Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fausto's in Iowa (Plate Lunch)

105 East Miller
Iowa, LA
Monday - Saturday 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM $1-20
This fried chicken place is part of a small family owned chain based in Southwest LA. It has always put out good fried chicken, burgers, and etcetera. My interest in the one in Iowa is the Bryan Vandicor of Big Daddy's fame operates it. Fortunately the owner of this chain allows individual stores with the proper permission to seek their own identity. With Bryan that means plate lunches on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Monday is cook’s choice with Wednesday being Fried Pork Chop and Friday usually Catfish Courtbouillon.
First time in I happened on Chicken, Sausage and Okra Gumbo. It held a light roux and was perhaps a bit thicker than most but the flavor was there. It very much reminded me of the gumbo my mother would fix me when I come home from college for the holidays or summer. I have always loved it that profile and will to the day I die. I was not expecting such a large bowl so I also ordered a Cajun Burger. It is one of their “Gourmet Burgers” This one started with Sheila Patron's sweet Sourdough bun topped with lettuce, tomato, 8 oz meaty patty, sauteed onions, onion rings then finished off with pickled Jalapenos and mustard. It stood tall but I squeezed it down so I could get a bite of everything. It proved delicious in both taste and texture. There were a lot of things working (sweet, spicy, tart, meaty, etc) but they all worked together to get you there. A good concept especially the onion parts of it. I still do not get why adding Jalapenos to a burger make it “Cajun”
Let me be upfront with you. Bryan knows who I am and would not let me pay for anything. He would bring out my food himself and I could see that by looking around me I was getting some lagniappe. In those cases you take it for what it is worth. In general my food was not any better or worse looking than the plates around me. I know him well enough that he takes pride in his food and would not shortchange anyone. This time in I was forewarned about the plate lunch. He was making a dish not seen too often at restaurants in the area these days. It was a Crab and Shrimp Stew with Boiled Eggs. It consisted of a thick dark gravy loaded with crab bodies and medium peeled shrimp. The crabs were full and I sucked on them with enthusiasm. Overall flavorful especially the eggs which had soaked up the flavor and spices. As lagniappe I got some grilled shrimp (succulent and not overcooked), slaw (fresh crisp and a little sweet) and macque choux (sweet, savory and corny).
Last time in was Fried Pork Chop Day. I do like pork. I received a thin pork chop fried to perfection and steaming hot, a roll, and dirty rice. The chop was everything I hoped for (plastic fork tender, flavorful and crispy). Except for being made with “cardboard rice” the dressing profile was spot on. As lagniappe the plate contained fried okra (crispy), fried red tomatoes (a different taste but good), and smothered potatoes. The flavor profile was wonderful but the potatoes were undercooked for my taste.
So, if you find yourself with extra time at lunch, drive to Iowa to get some good home cooking. You order at the counter but they bring it to you or just do the drive thru.


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