Mopho, Good Eggs and Atomic Burgers
Mopho Chef Michael Gulotta
Happy March, kids! For those of you playing at home, this marks my 45th year on the planet. If you’re a scientist and working to perfect “putting one’s consciousness into a perfect, cloned body,” it’d be great if you could pull that off some time in the next few years. Not that I need a cloned body; it’s all fine! Happy birthday to me!
When I first wrote about Mopho in November of last year, the Mid-City restaurant had yet to open. I have been back multiple times since that first visit, and while not everything has been perfect every time, I’m a real fan of the place.
Chef Michael Gulotta has gone on record as saying that his food isn’t “traditional” Vietnamese, but that doesn’t mean it’s “fusion” either. It is an interpretation, and while that may be a fine distinction, it’s one worth making.Take the soup after which the restaurant is named: pho; in its most traditional form it’s a spiced beef broth with rice noodles and garnishes including various cuts of meat, herbs, bean sprouts and lime. The choices here include the non-traditional – tendon, flank, oxtail and tripe – and the traditional – beef cheek and rib-eye. Pork and poultry varieties of the dish are also on the menu, including choices such as duck confit and slow-cooked cockscomb.
Mopho also does vermicelli and rice bowls with interesting garnishes such as crispy pork belly with sausage and peanut, and fermented black bean-braised crab. The green curry with lamb neck and beets with a Creole cream cheese roti is one of the best things I’ve had in a very long time. It is comfort food for people with a taste for spice and an appreciation for things cooked slowly, and the combination of a traditional green curry – spicy, aromatic and rich – with beets is brilliant.
Mopho, located at 514 City Park Ave., is open every day but Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and you can call them at 482-6845 or visit MophoNola.com to find out more.
Good Eggs is part of what seems to be an ever-increasing movement to bring local producers together with local customers.
The basics are simple: it’s a website (GoodEggs.com/nola) that features six categories of food stuffs from local farmers, bakers, ranchers, cooks and probably some combination of those people I’ve yet to discover. You select from a changing list of vegetables, dairy products, meats and seafood, baked goods, prepared foods and other items, and then either pick up your purchases at one of a number of spots or pay a little more for home delivery. The list of vendors is way too long to provide here, but if you visit area farmers markets, bakeries or restaurants for that matter, you’ll recognize a lot of them.
My advice: Go check out the website and see if you don’t find something worth buying. There is no minimum order, and there’s probably a pickup location not too far away from you.
In yet another “these things seem to be popping up all over” entry, I offer Atomic Burger, the newest restaurant on the high-end hamburger craze located on a section of Veterans Boulevard that you’d rightly associate more with fast food than hand-packed and custom-ground burgers.
But, while Atomic has a drive-through window and is clearly designed to be a chain, the food is anything but mass-produced. They have the requisite hand-cut fries and the ice cream is made daily, but here the shakes are chilled with liquid nitrogen and you can order steamed edamame as a side. The edamame aren’t quite as incongruous as you’d think; there are also turkey and portobello mushroom options for burgers, though I have to confess I haven’t tried either.
Atomic Burger is located at 3934 Veterans Blvd. and open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and you can call them at 309-7474 or visit TheAtomicBurger.com to learn more.