Eating Out, On the Road

The Morning Call Coffee Stand

Recently, I joined my friend on a trip to New Orleans City Park’s Morning Call Coffee Stand, where he had to observe the patrons for a school project, regarding something about people interacting with space. (I should probably know exactly what he was doing, but I don’t.)

The Morning Call has a very basic menu. They are known for their coffee and beignets, but the menu is augmented by a few other drinks and some local fare (read: alligator sausage and jambalaya).

Because of it’s location in City Park, and the fact that we went on a gorgeous, clear 80 degree day, it was busy. It wasn’t packed, but with people constantly coming in to order to-go orders, and almost as many waiters and there were patrons, it was a little hectic.

There were a few other things that made it feel hectic, and a bit of a haphazard operation—though clearly the tactics work, as it’s been in business since 1870! Waitstaff did not seem to have assigned table, like most cafes, you just took a seat and whoever noticed you first took your order. Also, because it’s cash only, there seemed to be cash flying around all over the place. The line for take out snaked through the main café, and it was more of a clump than a line. The menu at the tables is a plain print-out, stuck inside the napkin box. You sprinkle your own powdered sugar on the beignets, which causes a mess, for sure.

If the pace were slower, if people stood in straight lines, if the waitstaff was assigned to specific areas, it would feel just like a café in Vienna. The dark furniture, tiled floor, large windows, high ceilings, classical interior, and extensive outdoor seating all feel “Old World.” The water, too, is served in half-size glasses as the Viennese are wont to do.

I had Café au Lait and beignets, BF had an iced coffee and beignets. A serving of beignets is three pillow-y squares, slightly warm, heaped on a saucer. The Café au Lait was fine—I’m not coffee connoisseur, so my only comment on it is that it was definitely cream and not the skim milk I’m used to.

We went back for a second observation, this time at 10:30 at night. It was much quieter, just a few other patrons, most sitting outside. A few were inside watching the football game on TV.

Overall, I think we had a good experience and because we went twice, we got a good feel for how different the atmosphere can be. I don’t expect to go back often, but it’s good to know there are beignets and coffee available at all hours if you’re at City Park!

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