[Editor's Note: This story was incorrectly edited to change couche couche, as Mary had it, to couscous. It has been corrected. My bad! - Leslie Turk]
Overwhelmed by New Orleans? Undone by Mardi Gras? A Cajun’s gotta have her couche couche to carry on. Fortunately, there’s cornmeal crisping in a black iron skillet, waiting for a slurry of cane syrup. This week only. By Fat Tuesday it will all be gone.
Two girls from down the bayou, Melissa Martin of Chauvin and Lafayette’s Effie Michot, have created a pop-up restaurant uptown dubbed the Mosquito Supper Club. It’s just two blocks from the parade route, offering Cajun breakfasts, lunches and a limited seating supper on the weekend.
“We wanted to do basic food,” says Martin. Basic being boudin and eggs, crisp biscuits, pancakes and that couche couche that calls to the small child in all of us.
Plate lunches are the rice and gravy kind, deeply flavorful smothered beef, red beans and rice, and a terrific chicken and okra gumbo. Martin and Michot are both bakers, piling high rich chocolate chip cookies, delicate pecan macaroons, and anything else that strikes their fancy.
Suppers, Feb. 14 and 15, are by reservation only. Shrimp boulettes, shrimp and okra gumbo, crab cakes and Tart a la Bouille are on the menu, and the house fills up at 35 seats, so a reservation is absolutely necessary. Right now!
Martin and Michot met a dozen years ago, working in restaurants in New Orleans, and the friends began to dream of something different. In April 2014 they threw a Cajun brunch, dancing included, and the Mosquito Supper Club was born. “Everybody has a different idea of what Cajun is,” says Martin, “but we all know about mosquitoes.”
They are deeply committed to local ingredients. Shrimp are likely to come from Martin’s shrimping family in Chauvin, the boudin travels to the Big Easy from Scott, and most everything else is farmer sourced. “We’re really connected to where our food comes from,” says Martin, who worked with the Crescent City Farmers Market. “We want people to have that connection to their food, and to each other.” Hence the communal tables to encourage conversation.
They’ve cooked all over town. Bi-monthly suppers at the Tigermen Den in the Bywater and zydeco dances at St. Maurice Church in the Lower Ninth Ward were huge hits. On March 23, they’ll open the Mosquito Supper Club on Rampart street above Mr. Gregory’s Deli.
Martin dreams of dinners on a house boat some day. For Michot, who comes from a long line of musicians (her father David plays guitar for Les Freres Michot), it’s the dances. “I want to open a dance hall,” Michot says.
At the moment, they’re cooking, dreaming and driving, “It’s a cross between a restaurant and a moving company,” says Martin.
The current iteration of the Mosquito Supper Club, open for breakfast at 9 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., can be found at Cleaver and Co., 3917 Baronne St. For reservations click here. For more information, contact Martin and Michot at [email protected].