Morning Call 1976 – The Doctors Collin reviewed the world-famous coffee stand.

morning call 1976

Interior of Morning Call’s Fat City location, 2010 (courtesy Jason Lam)

Morning Call 1976 in the New Orleans Restaurant Guide

We’re shifting from Dr. Richard Collin’s 1970 book, The New Orleans Underground Gourmet to The New Orleans Restaurant Guide. This was Collin’s second food-critic book, written with his wife, Dr. Rima Drell Reck. While the Underground Gourmet was a solid presentation of New Orleans restaurants, it followed a more-or-less standardized format for the series. The New Orleans Restaurant Guide was by a company owned by the Collins, Strether and Swann. So, they had much more control over format and content.

Best of the Best

morning call 1976

“Best of the Best” from The New Orleans Restaurant Guide

The book begins with a chapter of the “Best of the Best.” The list contains old favorites, which is no surprise. Not that all the places aren’t four-stars. After all, it’s hard to say a coffee stand with an incredible restaurant like Mosca’s.¬†We’ll start with an ATNM place, Morning Call Coffee Stand.

Morning Call Coffee Stand

morning call 1976

Morning Call Coffee Stand at the French Market, 1910. (State Library of Louisiana photo)

Originally located in the French Market, Morning Call moved to Metairie two years before this review. Here’s what the Collins have to say:

morning call 1976

Morning Call Platonic Meal
Cafe’ au Lait

The Inside Track

The line can be enormous. It’s worth the wait. Inconsistencies show up occasionally when the restaurant is very busy. Coffee is always good, but the beignets may be less crisp or not as fluffy as is optimal. Not a serious flaw. And from long experience, we can tell you there’s no easy or neat way to sprinkle powered sugar on the beignets without also covering yourself, your companion, and everything else.

[the review]

Once upon a time there were two coffee houses, one at each end of the French Market. When the renovation of the Market began, one of the two, dissatisfied with the plans for cleaning it and the Market up, and perhaps hearing the siren song of the prosperous suburbs, left for greener pastures in a place in the suburbs called Fat City. There were some who claimed that Fat City was simply a publicity man’s bad dream. There were others who said that no one could every go to the suburbs for coffee and beignets, even if Morning Call moved there.

They were wrong. Fat City does exist, and while for some it may be a poor man’s French Quarter, it has character, characters, and probably most significant of all, it has the Morning Call. All of it. Sign, mirrors, counters, ceiling fans, everything but the picturesque sugar containers which are not forbidden in Jefferson Parish as they are in Orleans Parish. And best of all, the Morning Call has the glorious authentic original French Market beignets, a best dish, and New Orleans legendary cafe au lait, a best dish*.

Beignets are rectangular fried doughnuts, eaten hot and sprinkled with powered sugar. They are delicious and irresistible. They go back to a cake made of fried dough made in Spain in the late Middle Ages. Cafe au lait is dark roast New Orleans coffee with chicory, served with hot milk; the proportion is about half and half. This is extraordinary coffee and even if you normally take your coffee black, try it this way with your beignets.

*Labeling something a “best dish” is a specific appelation in the book: “The Best dish of the particular restaurant and one of the best examples of that dish in the cuisine.”

Quarter to Metairie to City Park to Closed

morning call 1976

Morning Call in City Park, 2018 (Infrogmation photo)

I’ve experienced Morning Call in all of its incarnations. My dad took me to the Quarter as a kid. The move to #themetrys happened during my high school years. The high school students that are the characters in my Young Adult “Dragons” novels hang out at the City Park location. Well, now, they’ll have to hang out at the CDM. I don’t remember the old sugar dispensers Collin mentions. They were like a home sugar bowl, with a hinged metal top. Diners scooped the sugar onto their beignets with a spoon. One of the “sanitary” concerns at the time was that hippies would spike the sugar with LSD. The city banned them in the late 1960s. So, the coffee stand substituted metal shakers, which they used right up to the closure of the two stands last year.

The owners of Morning Call announced plans to re-open in Mid-City, at the corner of Canal Blvd. and City Park Avenue. As of now, no development has taken place on the property. We’ll see.

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