A Taste of Success in NYC Poboy Hunt

cheekypoboys

After making like a stunted tree and throwing a tiny bit of shade at the New York City poboy scene in the last post, I was told by Lisa “The Homesick Texan” Fain to get myself to Cheeky Sandwiches on the Lower East Side.

Ugh. Manhattan. Double Ugh. The Lower East Side. I spent enough time getting drunk off a shitty beer and watching hipsters do blow in skeevy bathrooms when I was younger. Also, it always strikes me as a pain in the ass to get to. And for what? To be disappointed? Again?

But Cara and I happened to be in Manhattan. And Lisa, though a Texan, knows enough about Louisiana food (and has had enough of mine) for me to trust her. (Later this year, she’s dropping an entire book of recipes for queso.)

Still, we kept our hopes extremely low. We’ve been burned before, yall.

Like many places on the LES, Cheeky is a hole in the wall — one table and the rest of the seating consists of stools along the counter with a direct view into the cooking operation.

We ordered a shrimp poboy and a fried-chicken-and-biscuit sandwich.

To be clear, the SEAFOOD Sandwich is the only pure poboy option on the limited menu. You have a choice between fried shrimp, fried oyster or a half-and-half, that last choice instantly recognizable to anyone who’s ever eaten in a legitimate Louisiana poboy shop.

Interestingly, Cheeky’s poboy is smaller than a traditional Louisiana poboy and even smaller than some New York versions we’ve had. The shrimp itself was also on the dry side.

BUT.

The bread was perfect, the shrimp’s batter was seasoned just right — use some salt and black pepper, people! — and the sandwich was completed with dressing, lettuce, tomato and just a tiny bit of pickle that brought it all home. This might sound crazy that I’m giving dry shrimp a pass, but believe me when I say that all of the other parts pulled together to compensate for a slightly subpar performance by the star.

Well, the star of that particular sandwich. Because while we went looking for a shrimp poboy, we both loved the fried chicken on a biscuit. The chicken was fried to perfection, crispy and juicy — which is hard to pull off with white meat. And the biscuit was a big crumbly delight. (I’m not going to get into biscuit debates, because I’m sure there are other Southerners who would take issue with this biscuit just based on its size). This sandwich was tied together with purple-cabbage slaw.

After we were done, the fellows behind the counter gave us an order of beignets. They were a little on the doughy side compared to a Cafe du Monde air pillow — the beignets, not the fellows behind the counter. The server was a skinny thing and the cook looked like he’d just finished working out for eight hours straight and could kill you by just flexing a bicep. At any rate, I’m not going to knock fried dough covered in sugar unless you turned it into a grease ball.

Anyhoo. I’d recommend the joint to New Yorkers AND to Louisiana folks. Louisiana folks just need to know you’re not going to get a footlong sandwich. But it’s a good sandwich. And it’s technically not a poboy shop since the SEAFOOD is the only poboy on the menu. Other sandwiches are served on other types of bread. (I’ve got my eye on the beef short rib sandwich for next time.)

You also won’t get beer or booze or french fries, which is fine. You don’t need the extra calories. There are Zapp’s potato chips, including the Crawtator and Voodoo varieties.

On top of all this, Cheeky Sandwiches is just a couple of blocks from the D Train, so it’s not even that hard for us to get to from Bay Ridge. (This is likely not relevant to you, but if you see us creeping around the LES, now you’ll know why.)

Advertisements

So David Carr and Emily Gould Walk Into a Genre

While in Louisiana, I actually managed to spend some time reading. Finished up the short stories of Flannery O’Connor on the way down and knocked out David Carr’s “Night of the Gun” and Emily Gould’s “And the Heart Says Whatever.”

I hadn’t really planned to write about either one of them. I’m a couple years late on Carr’s book and, frankly, I was worried I wouldn’t like Gould’s. (Despite my cranky image, when it comes to new writers if I don’t have anything nice to say, etc. I also didn’t feel like putting up with cat-calls from the peanut gallery.)

But! (As they say on Gawker and The Awl.)
Continue reading “So David Carr and Emily Gould Walk Into a Genre”

Book Review: Sorta Like a Rock Star

On Thursday, I started reading Matthew Quick’s Sorta Like a Rock Star. On Friday morning, I finished it. I managed this despite taking Ambien on Thursday night. Ended up staying up until 1 in the morning and then, when I woke up before the alarm, instead of going back to sleep or turning on the television, I finished reading the book.

I’ll say this much: I’m glad I finished the book in the privacy of my own home. While it may have helped his sales some, I don’t fancy the idea of sitting on the 4 Train and blubbering like an idiot as the story crosses the finish line. The short version of this review: Buy this book and read it. (Full disclosure: Matthew Quick blurbed my book and though I’ve still yet to meet him, I think he’s a cool cat.)
Continue reading “Book Review: Sorta Like a Rock Star”

Louisiana Book News says …

Chere Dastugue Coen, who runs Louisiana Book News, reviewed The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival yesterday. She liked it! The review ran in The Daily World (out of Opelousas) and The Daily Advertiser (out of Lafayette). That’s right, Acadiana has as many (or more) daily newspapers as the New York Metro area. At any rate, you can find her full review here.

The humor in Wheaton’s novel emerges from the cast of characters and their simple everyday occurrences, and when you live in the South you know how humor stares you in the face, just waiting to be written down. However, capturing that essence that is all Southern — or in this case Cajun — takes a special creative pen and Wheaton wields with aplomb. The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival is laugh-out-loud, recognize-your-mawmaw funny.

My Novel Reviewed by The Advocate

So Sunday morning, as I was trying to sleep in on my last day of freedom before returning to the grind of the day job, the phone rang. It was my mom. The Daily Advocate — out of Baton Rouge — had reviewed The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. A real book review, in print, where my mom could see it. Now THAT’S what I’m talking about. Even better, Advocate Books Editor Greg Langley liked it. He didn’t love it. But he liked it. Even better than that? Not that the book is exactly complex, but he got at what I was trying to do behind the story. Here’s a little taste:

There are large issues on display in this book which can’t be resolved. There are smaller issues which can be resolved. The key complication is, of course, Father Steve’s attraction to Vicky. In that sense, this book is a romantic comedy and a pretty good one. Wheaton keeps you hanging around to the end to find the answer. Along the way, he gives you some pretty good questions as well.

Read it all.

Nice Things Said About My Book

You never know what might happen when you send advance reader copies of a novel out into the world. Some might end up in the garbage. Some might end up being sold on eBay. Some might snag you some publicity.

In the case of one copy of The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival (B&N, Amazon), it resulted in a thoughtful and positive review from Josh Sternberg, a fellow Brooklynite, PR ninja, Twitterer and blogger. Go check it out. And I’m not just saying that because Josh really liked the book. Okay, so maybe that’s part of the reason I’m saying that. At some point, I’m sure I’ll get a bad review and only then will we know if I’ll actually link to such things. I’d LIKE to think I’d be man enough to do it.

Then again, if someone does write a bad review it will obviously be because he’s some dimwitted subliterate buffoon who doesn’t like me for political/personal/religious/hygiene-related issues, so you never know.

In other advance-copy news, a copy was requested by Sarah Wagley Branton down Opelousas-way to be auctioned off during the Rotary Club’s live TV auction to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club as well as the Opelousas-Eunice Public Library. While the book didn’t get as much as John Ed Bradley’s “It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium” did last year, it did go for over $50 to Charles Dore. Not like I expected it to do anything close to a book about LSU football (a book I highly recommend, by the way).

That’s all I have for now. I could go on an unhinged rant about Borders still insisting that the book was written by someone named Liz Wheaton, but I’ll save that for another day.

The First Review Is In

I’d planned to get in a few non-novel related posts, but Publishers Weekly went and reviewed The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. (Third review at the link.)

Sure, I don’t care about reviews. I don’t care what the critics think. I also don’t care much for oxygen or Jack Daniel’s! I saw the subject line from my editor this morning reading “FW: PW Review!!” my cheeks clenched a bit. (But the two exclamation points were enough to give me hope.) Here’s the verdict:

Wheaton writes with an infectious energy, and his affection for the characters and culture is authentic without being overbearing or cheesy. Do the bon temps rouler? In Wheaton’s hands, they sure do.”