Sunday, May 20, 2012
Eat Well Market
1000 Riverside Drive
Cristy Powell takes food seriously. It’s in her blood, so to speak. Her family ran a restaurant in Louisiana. You might find Cajun and Creole on the Eat Well Market menu from time to time, as she stocks up on all sorts of goodies when she is back in Louisiana. The big question is whether gourmet food served from a roadside shack will work. Eat Well Market is a tiny DIY operation in the building where Dee’s Q used to be. It’s take-out only. On a sunny spring day one of the picnic tables works just fine. Otherwise it’s the car or home. Powell caters as well.
Peruse the menu board. It’s a short list of items that revolves according to what she has in stock and what’s in season. There are usually five or six options and sometimes more. That includes something for the Veggie Eater or at least items that can be made Veggie Friendly. My first visit comes after one of those Louisiana road trips. The Natchitoches meat pie is pastry stuffed with meat. It’s a Louisiana fixture and an excellent version here. The po-boy is a bit small for the money. The sausage is awesome though- a delightful combination of herby, spicy and savory. My only problem with the meal is a roll toasted way beyond crispy…more like crunchy. At first I thought this was an aberration of the day. I return with the Veggie Eater and order a roast beef, oyster mushroom and cheddar sandwich. This time the bread is perhaps even more toasted, to the point of it become a serious detriment to the sandwich. It’s a shame because the roast beef and mushrooms were perfectly cooked and the four year-old cheddar excellent. Veggies fair better and I would hazard to say they are a specialty. Stuffed Anaheim peppers are lightly grilled and filled with Mexican hominy, roasted veggies and cheese. They are a highlight of the second meal. Brown butter Brussels sprouts are standouts as well.
This isn’t fast food and it’s cooked to order. You will wait at least 15-20 minutes for a meal. That’s completely understandable given the quality. It does back things up even more when there are several folks waiting.
Veggie Eater: I asked for suggestions and was steered to a combo plate of fresh, seasonal veggies, in addition to the stuffed peppers and rice. The veggie combo I opted for was asparagus, oyster mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts. All were roasted until slightly tender. Beyond this, there was no discernible seasoning or flavor beyond the veggies themselves. Thankfully, the veggies were super fresh and are among my favorites. I would have appreciated a little salt and pepper on the picnic table to season just a wee bit. The hominy stuffed roasted peppers were heavenly. The peppers feature hominy mixed with herbs and cheese and are lightly roasted. We also opted for the rice, which is a buttery, herby, light affair. Everything is seasoned with a light hand to allow the ingredients to shine. They are more than happy here to accommodate whatever sort of dietary or veggie eating restrictions you may have. On a nice spring day, it’s a delightful way to hang out; just be prepared to hang out for some time.
Meat Eater: Eat Well sits at the corner of Rosebank and Riverside, which may be one of the scarier intersections in town for traffic, if perfectly pleasant for dining. Aside from the odd bread abuse, the real question is whether you will pay $40 for a meal at a roadside stand? There would be no question if it was a sit-down place. But I’m on the fence about take-out at this price. I certainly give Powell credit for shaking things up a bit and bringing quality food to the neighborhood. I suppose there are plenty of food trucks selling food at this price, so a take-out shack shouldn’t be treated any differently. As for the wait, it might be advisable to order ahead by giving her a call. She has a good Facebook page that can keep you up to date on her latest sourcing and a shot of the menu board.
I paid $12 with tax and tip on a solo visit and we paid $40 with tax and tip for dinner.