ARCHIVE LIBRARY

OFF THE BEATEN PATH …

by Christine Baker

I found myself off the beaten path the other day. I say “off the beaten path” very lightly, as it was only two blocks off the well-worn Jackson Street Extension here in Alexandria, Louisiana. I was summoned to a lunch meeting at a quaint, cozy little restaurant called Critics Choice on Rue Verdun off Versailles Blvd.

I arrived early and entered only to have to stand in line before being seated (thanks to Covid and social distancing of course). There were two women ahead of me and, as it goes with women, it wasn’t long before we were chatting about nothing in particular.

The longer we stood in line, the more the aroma grew and began to permeate throughout the restaurant. My tongue began to stick to the roof of my mouth.

“What smells so good?” I asked the two ladies, as this was my first time to the restaurant. “I bet it’s the Philadelphia Steak Sandwich” one of them said. “I ordered it to go. It’s their best seller and it’s to die for.”

I thought about her comment and how my foreign students I used to teach struggled to understand America’s use of idioms. When we say something is “to die for” we normally mean that it’s so good, we’ll do anything to have it. As luck would have it, they did not have any gluten free bread so I would not be able to
personally vouch for the “it’s to die for” sandwich. But one of the ladies at my table ordered the renowned sandwich and if sights, moans and groans are enough for confirmation, I have second-hand knowledge it lived up to “it’s to die for” recommendation.

As I sat and enjoyed a freshly prepared turkey salad, by the way, it was delicious, too, and looked around at the restaurant, the decor and ambiance took me back to my younger days to a time and place where my Dad used to take me to eat with him. My Dad nor the locally owned restaurant is around any more, yet they both live on in my memories. The sights, sounds and smells brought back to life the remembrance and importance of good food and supporting local businesses where local families spend themselves in service, gratitude and love to their community. Critics Choice, run by the Carrozza Family, is such a place here in Cenla. Start 2021 off right by getting off the beaten path and give Critics Choice a try. You can find them at one of their two locations in Alexandria, Louisiana, on Murray Street and on Rue Verdun off Versailles Blvd.

Happy New Year, Cenla!

View Critics Choice’s Menu: https://criticschoicecenla.com/menu

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