Saturday, July 23, 2011

Donewar's Superette & Diner


Here's my article on Donewar's Superette & Diner that ran in the July issue of The West Bank Beacon: 

 Frank Fradella opened Fradella’s Grocery store on the southwest corner of Hancock and Burmaster Streets in 1927. During World War II, he opened a slaughterhouse in the building next to the grocery. 
   In 1948, Frank’s daughter Josephine “Josie” married Charles Donewar, and the Donewars worked in the business with Frank. Charles and Frank slaughtered live cattle on premises, and sold freshly butchered steaks, roasts, and ground meat in the grocery store.
When Burmaster Street was expanded to four lanes in 1959, the Donewars had to relocate the store. They hired local McDonoughville contractor, James “Chick” Bush of J.B. Bush, Inc. to build a new store across the street, on the northeast corner of the intersection. Donewar’s Superette & Diner has been there ever since. 
Charles and Josie’s son, Jody, worked in the new store as a young boy. Charles taught Jody how to cut meat and how to make the homemade sausage from a recipe passed down by Frank. Additionally, Jody stocked the store shelves, racked the deposit soft drink bottles, and cleaned up. 
In 1977, Jody took over the family business full time. In 1980, Jody’s fiancée, Sandy Miller, began working with Jody in the store, and they married in 1981. Donewar’s operated primarily as a grocery store and meat market that served take-out sandwiches and plate lunches until 1992. At that time, Jody and Sandy took the bulk of the groceries out and converted the space to a diner. 
Donewar’s serves breakfast from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. The “Breakfast Special” is 3 eggs any style with your choice of ham, bacon or sausage, grits and toast ($4.50). Other breakfast items include egg sandwiches – eggs & bacon, eggs & ham, eggs & sausage - on toast, bun or french ranging in price from $2.50 to $4.25. Biscuits are $.75 each or 3 for $1.75. 
Hot plate lunches are served Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. till 1 p.m. Daily lunch specials cost $7.75 and include red beans & rice, fried pork chop or smoked sausage, salad and bread on Mondays; ½ fried chicken or ½ baked chicken, lima beans or french fries, dessert and bread on Tuesdays; spaghetti & meatballs or homemade Italian sausage, vegetable and bread on Wednesdays; white beans or jambalaya, pork chop or smoked sausage or country fried steak, dessert and bread on Thursdays; and on Fridays it’s fried seafood day and you can choose from fried fish or shrimp, french fries or baked macaroni, dessert and bread for between $9.00 - $12.00. 
Donewar’s also offers a selection of sandwiches on slice, bun or french ranging in price from $3.30 to $7.00. Fried fish and shrimp sandwiches are available only on Fridays. Jody told me the crowd pleasers are their roast beef, homemade hot sausage, and their “awesome” muffalettas (half $7.50, whole $15). Some of the offerings remind me of the sandwiches available at corner groceries I went to as a kid, like luncheon meat and livercheese. Who doesn’t get a childhood flashback from that? Other sandwiches on the menu include meatball, hamburger, country fried steak, ham, turkey breast, smoked sausage, and a club sandwich. Sandwiches are served all day long.
The Donewars pride themselves on making as much from scratch as possible, including the sausage, gravies, meatballs, and cooking roasts for roast beef sandwiches. Sandy does almost all of the cooking. On Tuesdays, Sandy’s dad Elmo Miller fries the chicken and on Friday’s, her mom Gwen Miller fries the seafood. Ms. Josie still lives above the store. Jody still makes the link sausage from his grandfather’s recipes. Donewar’s homemade sausage is available for sale along with their hogshead cheese.
In addition to owning the diner, Jody has been a licensed salt water fishing guide since 1998. He told me that as a boy, he fished and hunted with his dad every chance he got, and became a very good angler. In 1998 he decided to become a professional. The web address for Captain Jody’s charter service is

Years ago the West Bank headquarters of LP&L (now Entergy), South Central Bell (now BellSouth/AT&T), and Coca-Cola were within a stone’s throw of Donewar’s, providing a built-in lunch clientele.  Even though the staffing at those offices is either non-existent or not what it was back in the day, workers from AT&T, Entergy, the City of Gretna, the Jefferson Parish Courthouse, the Gretna Police Department, and other local businesses still flock to Donewar’s for a good, home-cooked meal.

 Walking into Donewar’s is like walking back in time – when times were simpler and less hectic. Here, you will be greeted by friendly owners and staff who serve quality food at low prices. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Donewar’s Superette & Diner is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. The address is 938 Hancock Street (at the corner of Burmaster), Gretna. The phone number is 366-3353. Take-out orders are accepted. Donewar’s accepts cash only. Make sure to “Like” Donewar’s on their Facebook page.

 Reprinted with permission of The West Bank Beacon. 
Donewar's Superette on Urbanspoon 

Saturday, July 16, 2011


It’s my sister Kathy’s birthday weekend. We started off the celebration with dinner at Iris last night. It was our first time there.

I started off with the veal sweetbreads – 3 small sweetbread “medallions” perfectly fried served with baby shitake mushrooms and risotto in a sage-infused broth. Delicious! Kathy ordered the smoked duck confit served on a bed of baby greens with sugar snap peas and baby beets topped with a sherry vinaigrette. The duck was tender and the smoke flavor didn’t overwhelm the flavor of the duck itself. Very good appetizer – actually, it’s large enough to be served as an entrée.
For my entrée, I ordered the veal chop served with roasted squash and zucchini. The huge chop was really tender.  Kathy got the black bass served with fairy tale eggplant, edamane, cherry tomatoes, and a delicate silver queen corn broth.

Veal chop
Black bass
Finally, for dessert I ordered the poached pear with salted caramel ice cream and Kathy got the ginger crème brulee.

Ginger creme brulee
Poached pear w/salted caramel ice cream

The meal was delicious! The service, however, was spotty and a bit impersonal. We had to wait a LONG time to get our check – one of my pet peeves. And while the dining room is lovely, it is way too noisy. Kathy & I could barely hear each other at our table.
Iris is located in The Bienville House Hotel in the French Quarter at 321 N. Peters St. Phone number is 504.299.3944. Dinner hours are Monday, Wednesday – Saturday, 6 p.m. ; bar opens at 5 p.m. Lunch hours are Thursday & Friday, 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Iris on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Rib Room | Chef Rene Bajeux's New Lunch Prix Fixe Menu

Here's the press release announcing Chef Rene's exciting new prix fixe menu - 3 courses for $25 - at the historic Rib Room:

NEW ORLEANS, LA — Got the summertime blues? Well, we’ve got the cure! Let Chef Rene Bajeux tempt you with his sizzling daily prix fixe lunch and dinner specials that are big on flavor, but small on the wallet. Enjoy a three-course lunch for just $25 (plus tax and gratuity) or indulge in a three-course dinner for $35 (plus tax and gratuity). Reservations are not required, but are recommended by calling 504.529.7045. The Zagat-rated Rib Room is located in the historic Omni Royal Orleans Hotel at 621 Saint Louis Street in the heart of the French Quarter.

Chef specials change daily, but recent examples included:
Petite lump crabmeat salad with a creamy remoulade; Chicken "Grand Mere" with onions, mushrooms, bacon and au jus; and white chocolate bread pudding

Organic tomato gazpacho with gulf shrimp; Sautéed black drum with roasted potato and asparagus salad in a lime emulsion; and creamy cheesecake with a caramel sauce drizzle

Chilled cucumber soup with crabmeat and sun-dried tomatoes; Sautéed redfish with lobster sauce; and fresh strawberries with Champagne sabayon

Smoked salmon galette; Tuna medallions with pasta, summer veggies and saffron oil; and Petite bananas foster cream pie

Located on the most fashionable corner of the French Quarter in New Orleans, St. Louis at Royal Street, the Rib Room has been the haunt of literary greats and the politically infamous for 50 years. Specializing in 100% prime beef and classic New Orleans cuisine, the Rib Room boasts an exceptional wine list, premium cocktails, outstanding service and rich, opulent décor. For more information on the Rib Room, visit