Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, February 15, 2006
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Though he may not look like it, N’Awlins native Tony Landry is angry at the lack of ‘real’ Cajun/Creole/soul food here.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Turned Up a Notch

Displaced by Katrina, a local restaurateur hopes to introduce the Metroplex to real Looziana fare.

By DAN MCGRAW

Sensational Tony’s

7373-A Ederville Rd, FW. For more information, contact acltony@sbcglobal.net.

When certain regions have distinctive cuisines, what is trotted out for the rich folks and tourists by celebrity chefs is often quite different from what the natives normally eat.

Tony Landry was a chef down in New Orleans before the hurricane blew him out of town, but no one would confuse him with Paul Prudhomme or Emeril Lagasse. Landry ran a little hut called Sensational Tony’s Snowballs that began by offering merely flavored ice but over the years moved on to plates of basic home-cooking: red beans and rice, gumbo, po’ boy sandwiches, boiled turkey necks, and stuffed bell peppers.

“What we would eat in New Orleans was just always very different from what people around the country thought our food was,” Landry said. “Red beans and rice isn’t just some beans with a little sausage on the side. It’s pickled pork tips and sausage and more meat than beans. Slow-cooked for hours. It’s what we would eat every Monday night.”

After Landry landed in the Metroplex (his fiancée has family here), he looked around and found no place with the mix of Creole, Cajun, and soul food he was used to back home. So he’s opening a new version of Sensational Tony’s (minus the snowballs) in Fort Worth’s Meadowbrook neighborhood. If city inspections come in a timely manner, he may be open by the end of this month.

Landry says the idea hit him when he had what was called a “shrimp po’ boy” at a Fort Worth restaurant. “They brought it out, and it was six pieces of shrimp on Texas toast,” Landry said with a laugh. “And it was seven bucks. For that kind of money, you should have a sandwich on French bread where the shrimp are falling out when you pick it up. And real hush puppies — not French fries.”

Landry hopes Sensational Tony’s will help introduce Cowtown to the real deal at decent prices. The restaurant will be fairly small, in a strip shopping center at Ederville Road and Sandy Lane. Not many tables — maybe 10 or so — but lots of take-out service. “That’s how we do it back home,” Landry said. “Go up to a trailer or little shop in the neighborhood and get a hot sausage on French [bread]. Or a big bag full of crawfish boil. Nothing fancy, but some of the best food you’ll ever try.”

Getting the money to start the restaurant has been tough. In November, Landry went back to New Orleans to see if he might re-start the business after the flooding. “It just got so depressing,” he said. “There was nothing there anymore. Couldn’t stay and see that stuff. Preparing food under those conditions was just something I couldn’t get my mind into.”

He returned and worked in an auto parts factory in Arlington while taking businesses classes offered by the Fort Worth Women’s Business Center in his free time. To raise money, he sold pre-paid gift coupons for his new place. Some folks were wary, thinking he might collect the money and then run, but Landry says it was just a marketing strategy. “We raised a few thousand,” he said. “But more than anything, we raised the knowledge with many people that we are starting this place up.”

The menu hasn’t been finalized, but Landry says it will be very basic and true to New Orleans — Cajun/Creole/soul. Lots of real po’ boys, plate specials for about eight dollars, jambalaya and gumbo, and real red beans and rice. Landry also wants to concentrate on catering, something he’s already doing for area church and business groups.

And then there is something called “yakamein.” A favorite in some New Orleans neighborhoods, this oriental noodle soup has been adopted by Cajun cuisine as a delicacy — just add a little roast pork and traditional spices. “New Orleans folks will drive a long way for some good yakamein,” Landry said. “It’s just one of those dishes the rest of the world hasn’t heard of, but everyone living in New Orleans knows exactly what it is and who has the best.”

Landry hopes downtown Fort Worth dwellers will want to make the drive. “Fort Worth has opened up their arms, and it’s been all love,” Landry said. “I want to give some back, and the best way to do that is to show them what New Orleans food really is. All I want is a chance to show everyone what it’s all about. I know they’ll be back after they try it.”


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