A lot of Tulane students consider themselves to be in-the-know when it comes to the New Orleans food scene. They can give you a recommendation for any occasion, whether it be an Instagram-worthy Sunday brunch, a nice dinner for when your parents are in town, or a fun date night spot. However, something that I have noticed among these self-proclaimed foodies is that they are all frequenting the same spots and ordering the same things there. Think about it. How many times have you opened Snapchat to see Josephine Estelle’s cacio e pepe, or Toast’s pancake balls, or Willa Jean’s cookies and milk? Frankly, I am getting bored, which is why I recently ventured off the list of the twenty or so restaurants between which Tulane kids rotate. And let me tell you, it was so worth it.
Cochon Butcher is a sandwich shop that is not St. James, or Stein’s, or Good Bird. It is right next to its upscale Cajun sister restaurant, Cochon. But the name of Cochon Butcher’s game is casal, high quality sandwiches and other good stuff like soups, next-level mac and cheese, and charcuterie boards. But as their name suggests, they specialize in meat. Chefs Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewsk, (who, by the way, have both won James Beard awards) know their way around a sandwich.
Their shop is both an eatery and a butcher shop, with the meat selections right when you walk in. Walk past them to the register to order, where you will get a number for your table (like Satsuma) for your waiter to find you and bring you your food. The vibe of the place fits what my dad would call a “joint”: nothing fancy, just good food and happy people. The restaurant also includes a small bar for those looking for something strong to wash down their sandwiches with.
So let me fill you in on what I tried: I got the daily special of cauliflower soup and a pastrami sandwich. My dinner companion ordered the BBQ pork sandwich and the Mac and cheese. The cauliflower soup was creamy and smooth, exactly how cauliflower soup is meant to be, garnished with croutons and small bits of cauliflower. Even my accomplice, who I am not sure I’ve ever witnessed eat a vegetable (besides lettuce on a cheeseburger), and who criticized my choice in appetizer, thoroughly enjoyed the one bite I forced/allowed him to try. He then promised to never doubt me again. The pastrami sandwich was also superb, a hearty but not overstuffed compilation of melt in your mouth pastrami, tangy sauerkraut, and wonderfully melty swiss cheese on rye. It was truly a fantastic sandwich, the type of fantastic that actually shocked me and has been on my mind ever since.
Moving on to across the table, the BBQ pork sandwich: barbeque pulled pork and coleslaw on a bun. What could be bad? This sandwich, while nothing outrageous, was solid. The meat was ample and flavorful, the coleslaw provided texture, and I do not recall ever meeting a potato roll I didn’t like. It more than got the job done, but for sure was not the highlight of the meal. And now for what was the highlight: the mac and cheese. Cochon Butcher’s take is the stuff of dreams, or at least my dreams. I have tried Cowbell’s (with and without crawfish), I have tried St. James’, I have even gone highbrow and tried Emeril’s Demonico’s. None of them compare. None of them can even compete. This mac and cheese was so incredible, I may have even shed a tear. Fluffy is not generally a word you associate with good mac and cheese, but it is one I would use to describe Cochon Butcher’s. The shells were coated in a pillowy blanket of cheese and baked to perfection. They even sell it in to-go containers by the register. I seriously considered taking all of them, but for the sake of my health and avoiding embarrassment, I controlled myself. And I have regretted it everyday since.
Cochon Butcher is located in the Lower Garden District at 930 Tchoupitoulas Street. While it is a bit of a drive, at around twenty minutes away from campus, I guarantee you will be glad you made the trip. I look forward to the day when I can get one of my friends to step outside the box and return with me, but until then, I will desperately continue downloading food delivery apps in the hopes that one of them will bring me my newfound love.
COVER PHOTO: Eater New Orleans