As you know, I am an avid fan of Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network. So one afternoon I am playing FreeCell on the computer with half an ear tuned to the TV and an episode comes on that I have seen numerous times. The first segment was about Harry’s Roadhouse in Santa Fe, a place we have visited twice. And then Guy starts talking about Surrey’s Café & Juice Bar in New Orleans. I don’t remember having seen this. What’s the scoop? How could I have missed a local café that makes their own bagels and has a bagel, lox, and cream cheese plate?
A quick “Google” showed that Surrey’s gets 4.5 stars (out of 5.0) on yelp.com, urbanspoon.com, and tripadvisor.com, plus was the recipient of a glowing review in Gambit (a local free independent newspaper).
The original episode was shot at the Surrey’s on Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District. Since then the owner has opened a second, which is also on Magazine, but in what is called Uptown. “When independent restauranteurs want to expand in the same market, they tend to diversify. Yet when Greg Surrey decided it was time to grow, he essentially duplicated his casual breakfast and lunch joint, Surrey's Cafe & Juice Bar, in a new location just 3 miles up the road. He wasn't worried it might siphon his own customers from the original—in fact, that was the point” (Ian McNulty at bestofneworleans.com).
We surmised that the Uptown location would have more convenient parking (which it did), so proceeded out one day for a mid-morning breakfast.
In addition to the great reviews and Guy Fieri’s imprimatur, I was attracted to the interesting breakfast menu. Just a few of the
And that’s where breakfast should have ended. We have often had good sausage gravy served over so-so biscuits. We have often had so-so sausage gravy served over good biscuits. Here we hit a two-fer. Bad biscuits and bad gravy.
Surrey’s menu proclaims that they make their own bagels, biscuits, and focaccia. I wouldn’t be so quick to claim responsibility for these biscuits. Heavy doesn’t begin to describe them. Doughy might be a more appropriate term.
And the “hash browns” were really home fries. That would have made Chuck happy had they not been over-seasoned with some form of Creole-like blend.
In addition to making their own bagels, Surrey’s also cures their salmon in-house (shown on Triple D), so I was prepared to make the bagel/salmon/cream cheese plate my choice. Only one problem. I failed to notice that this appears on the lunch menu and not the
The first thing I noticed was that the hash was sitting in a pool of grease. Lots of grease. Some of this probably came from the corned beef which contained an abundance of fat. And some probably came from the andouille. Since the pork in boudin is cooked before being mixed with rice and being stuffed into casings, it should be held harmless. And mixed with the meats were the same over-seasoned potatoes.
The food—or at least the food we ate—exemplifies one of my pet gripes about a lot of contemporary restaurants. They don’t know when to stop adding ingredients. My description of this food is
Well, Surrey’s may get raves from other diners. It may have been featured on TV. We didn’t like it and have no plans to give the place a second chance. Professional food reviewers may be required to make multiple visits before writing their reviews. Not so me. So I’ll give Surrey’s 1.5 Addies based on the good bagel, but man can’t live on bagels alone.