Monday, June 15, 2009
Restaurant Review: Lusco's
Went up to visit my dad in the Delta and went to Lusco's for the first time (at least since I was a kid).
Lusco's has been the restaurant of the planter gentry for generations. It started out as a dry goods store with a small restaurant attached, bloomed in size in WWII and became a North Mississippi institution. Everyone up there just can't say enough about it (to the point of being mildly annoying*). It's got the reputation of being the "Galatoire's of the Delta."
One of the things I liked about the place was how creeky and old it was. The furniture in the waiting area has holes in it and depressions where many a derriere has taken a load off. The primary seating areas are wooden cubicles open at the top and curtained off with flowery cotton sheets. The measure of a man in North Mississippi is being able to land a booth on a busy Saturday on short notice. I put on my seersucker and, of course, we got in.
They're famous for 2 things: steak and seafood. I was reluctant to try the seafood, given that I'd just driven from New Orleans, but I decided to try the Pompano, one of their signature dishes:
Allegedly, one of the Galatoire family members used to trek up to Lusco's to sample the whole fish Pompano. It's cooked whole, skin, eyeballs, and all. I loved it. Part of the appeal is no place in New Orleans serves whole fish. I've heard that since so many New Orleans patrons get stupid drunk when they go out to dinner, they can't handle deboning their fish and the chefs don't want to get sued by some New Orleans lawyer that bites down on a bone. Evil lawyers ruining things for everyone else. Took me a second to figure it out how to eat it, but once I did, it was delicate, with a careful balance of lemon-citrus sauce. I also enjoyed the onion rings, gumbo, and a spinach souffle.
The other thing about the restaurant is it doesn't serve alcohol (although back during Prohibition, people came for the moonshine and homebrew beer). That doesn't discourage the patrons, though. Regulars bring fancy leather bags filled with booze and the restaurant helpfully provides "setups" (seltzer, ice, glasses, etc.). One great thing about the BYOB policy: eating there is astonishingly cheap. For fine dining, I was shocked at how low the bill was.
All in all, it's an excellent restaurant in its own right (although I'm still not sure about that whole "Galatoire's of the Delta"-thing). Just go there and enjoy it.
722 Carrollton Ave., Greenwood, MS
*I wonder if it's like that when New Orleanians describe our treasured institutions...