Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bicycle to Breakfast in Algiers (New Orleans, LA)

      A long bicycle ride, connecting all of the great bicycle paths in New Orleans was to be the last installment of the three things to do in the outdoors when not at Jazz Fest. (Hiking in City Park was Monday and paddling Bayou St. John was yesterday.)  But my first stop this morning,  tout de suite, a coffee shop and cafe in Algiers, put an end to any idea of a long day in the saddle.
    Like the surrounding Old Algiers Historic District the place was just so relaxing.  A  mile (as the crow flies) and a wide river away from the busy French Quarter, tout de suite is as local as they come-the kind of place where they really do know your name.
      It's homey inside and out.  Plenty of potted plants, some blooming, alternating with wrought iron tables on the outside and lots of wood, bare and otherwise and ceiling fans on the inside. On the walls local artists hang their works for sale.   Need something to read?  Take your pick from books in the large bookcase.  Free wifi too.  The ten or so tables are topped with preserved 80's editions of the Times-Picayune newspaper.
     Sundays has live music, beginning at 9 a.m.  The players draw big crowds so finish your ride before nine if you want breakfast right away and a place to sit down.  One bicycle rack on Alix has room for two bikes.  There is no room for bicycles on porches cramped with tables and plants. 
     The coffee was good-certified fair trade and organic-but it is the food that is worth the trip.  Especially breakfast.  Which is just the meal a hungry cyclist, who skipped breakfast to train, will be craving.  Choose among tout de suite's "Signature" breakfasts, using native foods such as crawfish ettouffe, boudin, sauce piquant, cheddar grits cakes, almond crusted brioche and Steen's Cane Syrup.  Try the light breakfasts, with fat-free Greek yogurt, avocado spread, crumbled feta, steel cut organic Irish oatmeal, bagels and lox and cream cheese.  Or, last but not least, the traditional breakfast, omelets, smoked bacon or center cut bone-in ham, pancakes (buttermilk and sweet potato), and biscuits, and fruit and a wide assortment of pastry may hit your spot. Breakfast entrees are $9-$13, and for lunch, salads are $8-$9 and panini sandwiches served with a side dish are $8 and $9.
     Here is the plan.  Wake up and get on your bike.  No breakfast, no reading the paper first, no big cups of coffee.  (Small cup OK)  Get started early, soon as it is light enough to ride to beat morning church traffic and take advantage of cooler temps.  Those on the east bank plan your route so you end up at the Canal St. ferry.  The river and the city are so beautiful in the very early morning.  After the ferry crossing, ride the half mile or so to tout de suite and celebrate.
     tout de suite, 347 Verret St., Algiers at the corner of Verret St. and Alix.  Phone 504.362.2264.  Open 7 a.m- 7 p.m. seven days a week.  Live music Sunday mornings beginning at 9 a.m.  About .4 of a mile from the ferry landing.

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