Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Mire Diner (cont.)

The Mire Diner, Stop Five on the “Real People Making Real Food” Tour, is open Monday through Saturday for lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and then again for dinner from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. There is one menu for both meals with two exceptions. At lunch, there is a choice of three plate lunches. (On the day of our visit these were fried pork chops, pork loin, or shrimp enchiladas.) And on Tuesday through Saturday nights they offer boiled crawfish at dinner. But the standard menu includes salads, gumbos, poor boys, fried chicken, and what are called “Menu Dinners”—hamburger steak, pork platter, fried catfish or shrimp, crawfish etouffee, and a fried catfish fillet topped with crawfish etouffee.

Our ordering decisions were based on what could easily be shared—a crawfish poor boy, two-piece-white chicken, onion rings, and fries. Yes, this was the “all fried food all the time” lunch.

The poor boy came on a toasted bun that—alas—also suffered from soft bun syndrome. (It appears to be catching.) And Chef Roy himself admitted that he is having trouble locating a good source for his poor boy rolls. But the crawfish—oh my! They were perfect. The tails were some of the largest we have seen on a poor boy this season and were perfectly battered and fried with tiny bits of coating exploding from the surface. On the side came a small cup of house-made rich tartar sauce that, since neither the lemon nor the pickle predominated, enhanced rather than obscured the sweet crawfish tails.

The chicken came as a large breast and a wing section. Being a wing person, I took that piece which was good but, to me, not as good as Sunny’s in Church Point. But Chuck’s breast piece was wonderful. First, the coating has more flavor than Sunny’s (which is reminiscent of KFC’s Extra Crispy). But what really set this apart was the succulent juiciness. And, while we were raving about it, Chef Roy asked if we would like to try dipping it into his special chipotle/mango sauce that he uses to make his “bronzed chicken” for one of his salads. This spicy, sweet, and smoky sauce was so good that I bought a bottle for later use.

The fries were good, but the onion rings were extraordinary. Thin sliced, lightly battered, and grease-free. Again, I remarked on the absence of oil on the plate when we finished, and Chef Roy explained that his beer batter recipe expels the grease from the surface rather than soaking it in. And the chipotle/mango sauce made a great dip for the rings.

Just before the 2:00 p.m. closing, one of Chef Roy’s staff alerted him to the delivery of the crawfish for that evening’s dinner service. Talk about from farm to table. Or should I say pond to table?

The crawfish season is just really getting into gear. Sure, they have been available since we arrived in January, but they were small and the resultant tail meat was no larger than the nail on your small finger. But as the spring progresses, the crawfish get larger so it was an easy decision to again make the five mile drive to Mire so that I could eat crawfish.

Chuck’s meal consisted of the three-piece white chicken, fries, onion rings, and potato salad. When the server came to the table groaning under the weight of the tray, Chuck surmised that he would be taking some of his meal home. Did he? No way. All that was left was a pile of chicken bones.

Of course, I ordered the crawfish. Most restaurants offer crawfish as either three-pound of five-pound servings. At the Mire Diner you order by the pound so I opted for two pounds and an order of potato salad. (And my share of Chuck’s onion rings.)

You can order the crawfish as one of three levels of heat--mild, hot (here this means medium), and spicy. I chose the hot and believe me these were plenty spicy. And the size was amazing. I have eaten crawfish later in the season (late April and early May) that weren’t this large. Since these are a fresh-water crustacean you don’t get a briny taste--just the taste of fresh shellfish plus the boil seasoning. With the crawfish came a small cup of dipping sauce that was a mix of mayo plus seasonings. But the crawfish didn’t need additional augmentation.

Chef Roy’s potato salad was good, if a bit on the dry side. I remedied this by mixing in some of the crawfish dipping sauce. And don’t think that the bright yellow comes from mustard. This is the natural color of the yolks. Chef Roy gets his brown eggs from a local—what do you call a person that raises chickens—farmer?

We are still arguing about who’s chicken is better—Chef Roy’s or Sunny’s? I see a road trip to Church Point in our future. But despite the bad bun and dry potato salad, the Mire Diner is still a 5.0 Addie stop and, with almost two weeks of our stay remaining, worth a revisit.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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