Ye Olde College Inn
3000 South Carrollton Avenue
New Orleans, Louisiana 70118
After a very hectic evening culminating in a trip to the on-call pediatric dentist, we (Team Oster, my mom, my niece, and my nephew) were starving. Since Plan A was closed, we desperately needed a Plan B.
Enter my mom.
"How about the College Inn?" she said.
I had many fond memories of the College Inn. It was one of my grandparents' "usuals". Warren had his first oyster po-boy there on our last visit together about eight years ago.
"Yes!" we said in unison.
"Wait, will it be open at 9:30pm?" I asked, knowing that most places in Memphis close up shop around 9:30pm. I made a quick phone call and discovered that they were indeed open until 11pm. Sweet.
"Nancy says it's gotten a bit fancy since Katrina," my mom said. Our most-awesome cousin Nancy was a very reliable source. The College Inn had pretty much been completely destroyed, but the owners chose to rebuild...and gussy things up a bit. I was anxious to see the transformation.
"Do you think we should go with four monkeys (Satchel, 6, and Jiro, 4) this late?" I asked.
Collectively we were holding our breath.
As we pulled into the parking lot I gave all four monkeys a very stern talking to. (A variation on my usual pre-restaurant speech.) "Okay, kids. We're going into a restaurant NOT a playground. There will be NO running. NO screaming. NO touching. Everyone will sit in their own chair and eat their own food. Is that clear?"
Four very hungry and tired monkeys nodded their heads.
We entered the restaurant to find it 100% different than we remembered. Gone was the kitschy ambiance. Everything was sparkly and new and covered in white tablecloths. There was a bar in the front that never used to exist. All of this was good, as long as they didn't take one look at our ragged crew and show us the door.
Thankfully, the College Inn was not very busy, and we quickly got a table. It became clear fairly quickly that our waitress was hoping to get off work a tad early rather than wait on us, but she tried to keep her resentment to herself.
When we ordered a round of waters she asked if we would like styrofoam cups with lids for the four kids. I furiously shook my head yes, but pointing to Satch, Jiro, and my eight year-old niece, my mom said, "Lids for the three little ones."
I thought it was nice that she was treating my twelve-year-old nephew like a "Big Boy." Until he spilled his water, that is. (When the waitress came back over I asked her to bring him a styrofoam cup.)
The three "little ones" were actually cracking me up. They had all acquired new toys at the dentist. Satchel and Sutton each had a stuffed animal that they were treating as their babies. (I rarely see Satchel enjoy "girl" games.) Once Branch spilled the water, Satchel wrapped his stuffed monkey in his napkin and put him in a safe spot where he wouldn't get wet. (The monkey was also cold, I was told.)
Jiro had a hard little pterodactyl which wasn't as cuddly as Satchel's monkey or Sutton's tiger. To remedy this, he stole the tiger when Sutton wasn't looking. Before she could have a fit over the kidnapping, my mom offered to buy the tiger for a quarter, which Jiro swiftly accepted. Problem solved.
Time to peruse the menu.
I really couldn't remember what I used to eat at the College Inn when I was younger, so I decided to split an oyster loaf & fries with Warren. We also got a spinach salad to share. For the kids, I requested the grilled chicken breast with a side of cooked spinach and mashed potatoes. And an extra plate.
When the waitress got to my mom, she admitted that there was a kid's menu. "Kid shrimp, kid chicken tender, and kid veal cutlet," she said as fast as possible.
Determined to order the monkeys something other than fried chicken tenders or fried shrimp, this information did not change my order. (Nevermind the fact that Warren & I were eating FRIED oysters and french FRIES.)
Once all of the orders were in, Jiro unrolled his silverware and very politely handed me his knife. "Here, Mommy," he said. ("I'm going to be a good boy," is how I translated this gesture.)
Our spinach salad came out right away, and both Satchel and Sutton were eyeing it.
"Where's my snack?" asked Satchel.
I didn't answer because I was chewing.
"Where's my spinach?" he queried sadly.
I passed the salad over and let him and Sutton attack it.
I looked over at Jiro. He had straddled his pterodactyl on his fork.
When Satchel had enough salad, he passed it back to me. Then he asked, "Can we blow out the candle so my monkey can sleep?"
"Here, let's just cover his eyes a little," I said adjusting the napkin/blanket.
Now Jiro had the pterodactyl expertly balancing himself inside the tip of Jiro's straw with his tail.
Our food came not a minute too soon. I quickly divvied up Satchel & Jiro's chicken, spinach, and mashed potatoes. Satchel was worried he wasn't getting enough, but Jiro refused to have any spinach or mashed potatoes on his plate, so Satchel had plenty. Warren and I donated some french fries to Jiro to round out his meal.
Sutton looked at her kid shrimp and wondered what kind of shrimpy kid could get full on the tiny amount of food on her plate. (Which she ended up not being able to finish.)
Satchel ate all of the food on his plate and wanted more. He agreed to eat Sutton's mashed potatoes provided I did not give him the part that she had touched.
I never saw what my mom or nephew had because it was eaten at lightening speed. I think it involved the special of the night and a soft shell crab. I did notice when my nephew spilled his water for the second time. "What was that about not needing a lid?" I said.
When we were all done eating, Satchel and Sutton were cuddling their swaddled animals. "Can I keep this napkin so my monkey will stay warm?" Satchel asked.
"Ask the waitress," I said knowing he'd be too shy.
"Can we keep these napkins?" Sutton blurted out as the waitress came over.
"No, we need them," she said matter-of-factly.
When she was gone, Satchel turned to me and Warren and said, "Can I steal the napkin?"
"Well, Santa might see you," Warren said. "Look, there's frosty right there." He nodded toward a painting on the wall.
"There's the kitsch!" I said to myself.
The waitress came back with dessert in hand. I looked at my mom, who had taken the second half of her Xanax after Branch's first spill, and barked, "Are you crazy? We've had near perfect behavior and happy plates--why risk it by ordering dessert!!??"
We went ahead and settled our checks while Branch, Sutton, and Jiro quietly ate their ice cream.
Satchel was still trying to figure out a way to keep his monkey warm. "Do you have a bandana?" he asked Warren.
"I gave it to Sutton when she broke her tooth," he said.
"Here it is!" Sutton said, waving the bloody rag for us all to see.
Considering he didn't even want to eat the part of her mashed potatoes that had touched her fork, he wasn't about to wrap his precious monkey in her blood. I looked in my purse to see if I had anything suitable.
"How about this?" I asked un-stuffing the Acme bag I use for groceries and various other items in lieu of evil plastic bags. He agreed and soon the monkey was good to go.
On top of good behavior from the kids and good food, the price was right. All four of us ate for $37.00. Not bad. (I guess technically we only had two dinners, but we were all full.)