3100 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
Napoleon's Rating - **/*****
After leaving the catering business, Dave Gotter opened this lively Uptown café on one of the busiest stretches of Magazine Street. The menu is primarily a mix of sandwiches, burgers, wraps and salads, plus a few standout sides and other items. Though that might sound like the makings for a standard lunch/light-dinner joint, just about everything here has its own twists and bursts of creativity.
Gott Gourmet looks a bit like an upscale diner, housed in a colorful, window-lined room with a contemporary feel. The sidewalk seats are partially protected by a wide awning overhead, and always-bustling Magazine Street provides reliable people-watching opportunities.
When you enter the dining room, it feels as though you should order from the register prominently located by the open kitchen. But in fact there is table service here, and it is swift, as befits this sandwich-and-salad format.
The gumbo is served in a portion big enough to make a meal, though I still like to get it as a first course when I want a big lunch. It has a dark, country-style roux with chicken and smoky andouille sausage, and there's also pickled okra and stewed tomatoes, crabmeat and shrimp. As if all that wasn't enough, in goes a scoop of potato salad, which thickens the roux further but also makes it creamy. French fries are cut in-house and turn out great, with a dark color and crispy texture. Sides can be refreshingly differently, like orzo pasta salad with fresh herbs and olives, though the jicama and cucumber salad was overpowered by vinegar and far too sour.
The gumbo mentioned above is indicative of Gott Gourmet's penchant for letting a lot of different ingredients duke it out on the same plate or in the same bowl. This usually works out well but it does have its pitfalls. On the plus side, there's the Gott salad, made with big cubes of brie that are coated in panko crumbs and fried, then sliced open to let the hot cheese pour out over fresh greens, strawberries, blueberries and candied pecans. Another success is the "smothered pearl" sandwich, which is an oyster po-boy smothered with sweet, honeyed coleslaw and mild aioli and then put in the panino press. But then there is the sandwich called the "St. Patty's Day Massacre," a name that is indeed fair warning of the drippy onslaught of corned beef and potatoes to come. The same great fries are loaded into the sandwich, though they're made soggy from a mix of Thousand Island dressing, Creole mustard, that sweet coleslaw and cheddar and Swiss. At brunch, morning standards get more subtle twists than the sandwiches and salads. For instance, there's smoky gouda running through the yellow grits and the country biscuits are smothered with a gravy made with onions, mushrooms and sausage. Fans of the Chicago-style hot dog should be pleased to learn that Gotter, a native Chicagoan, does the city's distinctive dog justice. Here it is, the red beef frank, the salad bar of condiments, the unnaturally-green relish and the seeded bun that identify this edible icon of the Windy City.
Gott Gourmet is BYOB, and charges no corkage fee. Otherwise, you have the standard soft drinks.
Prices are moderate to high for sandwiches and salads, with more than a few of these breaking the $10 mark. However, you do get quite a bit of food for that money and it feels like a reasonable value. Most items at brunch are below $10.
Gott Gourmet is fresh, quick and smart. While some of the more rambunctious creations seem to go too far and get too messy, the impulse to add, tweak and reinvent familiar casual fare usually works out very well and puts an interesting new spin on affordable comfort food.