Remember a few months ago when Rock N Bowl and Ye Olde College Inn owner, John Blancher, purchased the million dollar stripmall adjacent to his Mid City compound? Well, feast your eyes on some seriously swanky improvements to Ye Olde compound Still Dere Square. Blancher’s son/family business man/chef Johnny Blancher has now added Ye Olde Bake Shoppe to the mix, certified open as of December 9. Fresh baked bread and cases of pastries abound (donuts, eclairs, cannoli) and grab-and-go breakfast/lunch fare (paninis, bagels, chicken salad, etc.) plus specialty coffee drinks are also available.
Given that the space used to house a tattoo parlor, the revamp to glitzy new bake shop is pretty incredible. Nextdoor, the former cabinet store is now home to Magazine Street transplant The Occasional Wife. Other than that, a check cashing place and nail salon still occupy the other units, but honestly, the property looks a lot less stripmall-icky. The bakery joins a surge of openings in the Mid City area— with Namese and Biscuits & Buns on Banks opening in the last month alone, and MOPHO and Treo on the horizon.
You could spend a whole day at the businesses owned by the Blancher family on the corner of Carrollton Avenue and Earhart Boulevard. Grab a burger for lunch at the Front Porch Grill. Stick around for dinner at Ye Olde College Inn. And dance until dawn at Rock ‘n’ Bowl.
Now you can pull up in the morning and start your day with a doughnut or a scone. On Monday (Dec. 10), Ye Olde Bake Shoppe opened.
The actual bakery, overseen by pastry chef Alex Heath, has been operating for a few months, providing bread and desserts to the other businesses.
“For 25 years of Rock ‘n’ Bowl,” said Johnny Blancher Jr., “we’ve never handled our own desserts and cakes. We knew we had the talent in house.”
The Blanchers, however, know their limits. They’ll continuing buying French bread from Leidenheimer.
Beyond pastries and chocolates, Ye Olde Bake Shoppe also will serve soups, salads and sandwiches. The lunch options include ham and cheese on rosemary olive oil bread, short rib on baguette and a farm salad sandwich with produce from Ye Olde College Inn’s next door urban farm.
“We really want to do it right,” Blancher said. “We felt like the neighborhood needed a first-rate coffee shop and bakery as well as soups, salads and sandwiches.”
Ye Olde Bake Shoppe is located at 3000 S. Carrollton Ave. A phone had not yet been installed. Open Monday to Friday 6 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m.–5 p.m and Sunday 7:30 a.m.–2 p.m.
Ye Olde College Inn’s Light & Healthy Fish is an Eat Fit NOLA-approved dish. Eat Fit NOLA uses the American Heart Association’s upper limits for sodium and saturated fat, and takes it two steps further with no white carbs, and less than one teaspoon of added sugar. Essentially, Eat Fit NOLA takes the guess-work out of dining out in New Orleans, and can fit into the diets of people with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, as well as those looking to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, or, simply eat cleaner. It is a completely free service offered to all local restaurants.
Some of the bakeries included in our 58 Days of King Cakes reporting project have been in business for decades. (As if you didn’t know, we are reporting on a different king cake each day, on the toppings, texture, fillings and more.) Today’s king cake comes from a brand-new bakery that’s been open since Dec. 10. For some months before, under the direction of pastry chef Alex Heath, the bakery started supplying bread and desserts to the other parts of the enterprise.
It’s the new Ye Olde Bake Shoppe, another enterprise from the Blancher family behind Ye Olde College Inn and Rock ‘n’ Bowl. In 2012, the Blanchers opened Straight Stick Ranch Burger Co.
The Bake Shoppe’s entrance is on the Earhart side of the parking lot, in a building that parallels the busy thoroughfare. And to give it props where due, the entire compound is as charming as any could be with a great big parking lot in the center.
Ye Olde sells only traditional king cakes in the bakery, but filled ones ($14) are available with 24-hour notice. Fillings are cream cheese, Bavarian, blueberry, strawberry, apple cinnamon, raspberry and chocolate. Specialty icing colors and fillings ($15.50) are maple pecan, candied bacon maple, lemon cream cheese and strawberries and cream. The best-selling filling: candied bacon maple.
Ye Olde Bake Shoppe’s original king cake
Ye Olde Bake Shoppe is just as cute inside.
Judy Walker/NOLA.com /The Times-Picayune
3000 S. Carrollton Ave., 504.418-6072
Layers of cinnamon-covered dough are rolled together and twisted, not braided. The twists create attractive striations in the icing, which has a lemony hint of flavor and vivid shades of crispy sugar on top. The not-too-sweet dough is dense but not heavy, and the icing does not overpower. The icing is just enough, and it allows one to see that the king cake itself is well-browned. It also comes in nice packaging, always a bonus.
I said it: “I want to try that candied bacon maple filled one.”
Open: M-F, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sa, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Sunday. Price: $12.50.
Lagniappe: Ye Olde Bake Shoppe had some other items draped in purple-green-and-gold icing, including muffins. They serve breakfast and lunch, including some items from the College Inn’s farm next door, and a bagel and lox sandwich.
Ye Olde College Inn: A Family Business
Ye Olde College Inn is a family business in the truest sense of the term. Not only is it run by a family, but many of the family members are frequently present… even the children and grandchildren. Of course, Ye Olde College Inn is also a favorite of families all across the city.
Family is a theme that shines through in our interview with John and Johnny Blancher.
Recycling cooking oil into biofuel, donating used equipment and growing some of their own food are a few of the ways three New Orleans restaurant and hospitality businesses are shrinking their carbon footprints.
Haley Bitterman, corporate executive chef and director of operations for the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group; Ann Tuennerman, founder of the Tales of the Cocktail festival; and Johnny Blancher, vice president and executive chef Ye Olde College Inn, made up the panel for a discussion on restaurant sustainability efforts at the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s August 2012 trade show in New Orleans.
Here’s how they put five eco-friendly solutions to work:
Plant a garden. The Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group (RBRG), which has experimented with rooftop gardens, is working on a plan to grow herbs in the sculpture garden next to the New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park. The produce will flavor dishes at the company’s Café Nola, located inside the museum, and Ralph’s on the Park, an upscale eatery nearby.
The proprietors of Ye Old College Inn purchased several lots across the street from the restaurant and turned them into The College Farm, where they grow a variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs, including sugarcane.
Recycle waste. Chickens at The College Farm don’t just produce fresh eggs for the menu. They feed on kitchen waste and convert it into compost material for the garden. RBRG provides compost for the urban gardens of the nonprofit New Orleans Green Roots, while Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC) donated nearly 16,000 pounds of compost to the Hollygrove Community Garden this year.
TOTC also recycled the cardboard packaging the 5,000 bottles of liquor and 48,000 swag items from the event. Both RBRG and Ye Olde College Inn recycle cooking oil into biofuel.
Conserve resources. RBRG restaurants are washing their dishes green. They installed water-saving spray nozzles that use only a third of the water that conventional models do.
TOTC organizers switched from printing their media kit to providing it on a USB drive before they finally posted it online. The previously printed, 650-page recipe book became a searchable e-book.
Reuse old materials. RBRG turns office paper into waiters’ pads and prints on both sides of memos. They also donate old equipment to local charities.
“For instance, when we closed down Bacco, we reached out to different charities to see who could use the chairs,” Bitterman says. “If we have plate ware that is left over, we try and donate it locally instead of throwing it away.”
Use eco-friendly supplies and equipment. Energy-efficient lighting and environmentally friendly chemicals are two more tools RBRG employs to make its operations more sustainable. But Bitterman admits it’s challenging to raise the green chemicals usage above the current 80 percent.
“We’re having a very hard time finding something eco-friendly that really deals with grease on the floors and in the kitchens,” she says. She also noted that while her company has been able to switch to biodegradable to-go containers, thanks to its volume buying power, for many smaller operations the move is not as affordable.
Tuennerman offered another reason many restaurants haven’t yet made the switch: “I think some of these places order in such bulk that, unfortunately, they have a lot of Styrofoam sitting in the back.”
Read the article here
“One of my favorites is Ye Old College Inn,” says Brees of this upscale American pub, a neighborhood staple since the end of Prohibition. “It has a ‘Cheers’ feel to it,” he says. “I’ve seen Harry Connick Sr. there a number of times.” Like many other Crescent City classics, Hurricane Katrina pummeled this city landmark on August 29, 2005. “It was completely destroyed,” says Brees, “but the owners tore it down, turned that space into a parking lot, and rebuilt it next door with a small bowling alley, Rock ‘n’ Bowl, behind it.” So what’s his perfect night on South Carrollton Avenue? “Rock ‘n’ Bowl has a little bar with a stage and live music every night,” says Brees. “So, I go bowl, listen to the music, have some drinks, and then go eat at Ye Old College Inn.”
Louisiana Cookin’ Aug/Sept 2012
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LOUISIANA COOKIN’ MAGAZINE
ANNOUNCES 11TH ANNUAL CHEFS TO WATCH AWARDS
Delicious Decisions: Five Louisiana Chefs Honored with Prestigious Title
New Orleans, LA —This year Louisiana Cookin’s statewide network of culinary enthusiasts
nominated a record number of chefs for consideration for the prestigious award. After
much eating and discussion, the list was narrowed to five talented young chefs who possess an
understanding and respect for Louisiana’s unique culinary heritage while exhibiting the
creativity and energy needed to engage today’s diners. The 2012 Chefs to Watch Awards go to:
• Ryan Andre, Executive Chef, Le Creole, Baton Rouge
• Manny Augello, Executive Chef, Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro, Lafayette
• Lindsay Mason, Executive Chef, Cristiano Ristorante, Houma
• Brad McGehee, Executive Chef, Ye Olde College Inn, New Orleans
• Zac Watters, Owner/Executive Chef, Zachary’s Restaurant, Mandeville
Over the past 11 years, the Chefs to Watch program has raised over $100,000 for Café
Reconcile, a nonprofit organization that trains at-risk youths to lead productive lives through
culinary education and job placement and various other charitable organizations around the state.
Congratulations to our 2012 Chefs to Watch award winners. They will be featured in the August
edition of Louisiana Cookin’ magazine. Call 888.884.4114 for more information on the awards
dinner, scheduled for August 20th at the Theatre at Harrah’s New Orleans, to honor these chefs,
showcase their talents, and help mentor new talent in the culinary industry.
Bradley McGehee is interviewed by Todd A. Price
Ye Olde College Inn now has two farms, a lot on Fig Street and several plots facing Carrollton Avenue. How involved are you in the operations of the farms?
I’ll go over there in the morning to pick herbs. We’re getting into fall, and we’re getting into the big bounty. When stuff is rolling over there, I’m there every morning picking cherry tomatoes and tomatillos and eggplants.
Are there certain dishes at Ye Olde College Inn that you can’t change?
You can’t touch the onion rings, not that I would want to. The hamburger steak is always going to be here. The veal cutlet is always going to be there. We use the same tenderizer that they’ve been using probably since 1933.
Have you been able to tweak some of those classics?
When I got here, right away we started marinating meats. We started using fresh vegetables. We used to just serve sauteed squash on the side. Now we have a mix of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, watermelon radish, turnips, baby carrots. It’s a huge variety. We cook it to order in a little bit of butter and salt and pepper. We’re grinding our own meat now using Louisiana grass-fed beef.
What are some of the new dishes that you’ve rolled out?
We’re adding a braised lamb shank that’s cooked sous vide, which we’re serving with a whole-grain mustard-lamb reduction. We’re doing a wild mushroom-red wine reduction on our steak, and before it was just a dry piece of steak with salt and pepper on spinach.
The College Inn Farm is a project that currently provides a variety of fresh produce. The focus of the farm changes seasonally. Herbs are a year round item of the farm and provide an ultra fresh compliment to our menu. The seasonality of the vegetables and fruits help enhance the creativity of our specials. Additionally, fresh farm eggs provide a great twist at times. Currently, nine Buff Orpington and four Rhode Island Reds reside at the farm providing us with a steady supply of rich, deep orange yolks. The flock, affectionately referred to as the Cock-a-doodle Convent, give some life to the grounds as they enjoy pecking about the farm searching for the goodies they enjoy. This traditional breakfast item is presented in unique ways for dinner, sometimes changing the common held perception of the egg.
David Grunfeld, The Times-Picayune
read the article here.
Best of Show: Ye Olde College Inn’s Bread Pudding Po-Boy
I made a beeline when we arrived to taste the bread pudding po-boy. It was a whole loaf of bread made into bread pudding, and somehow fried. It was pretty darned yummy.
Ye Olde College Inn also won last year’s Best of Show award, for their Fried Green Tomatoes and Shrimp Remoulade Po-boy.
The festival on Oak Street turnout was no doubt enhanced by the most spectacular weather imaginable. When I arrived at 11:45 a.m., there were already hundreds of people on the street in advance of the noon starting time, as some of the artists were still setting up, the beer trucks were still finding cups, and food booths were gearing up.
It looked like the crowds were just as plentiful as they were for the first festival, when 10,000 people packed Oak Street like sardines.This year, traffic flow was vastly improved, although still crowded in spots. My sometimes-cranky husband said the festival should ban bicycles, strollers and dogs, but for a free street festival, I can’t see it. In fact, there was a place for canine watering this year, so dogs were specifically welcome.
Several restaurants along the expanded five-block festival route were serving food other than po-boys, including the sushi restaurant Ninja and the new barbecue joint, Squeal, which even had a guy with a big sign standing out in the traffic touting their $8 ribs.
Another welcome innovation was the addition of two big dining tents, set off on side streets. The one history panel I managed to see, on the history of muffulettas, was excellent, but sparsely attended.
Judy Walker, Times Picayune
read the article
By Angus Lind / Times-Picyune
June 10, 2008, 5:00AM
When the John Blancher family bought Ye Olde College Inn five years ago, little did they know that the cast of characters they were inheriting at the Carrollton Avenue restaurant and bar would rival Norm’s gang from TV’s “Cheers.”
Cartwright Eustis IV is such a regular at Ye Olde College Inn that the menu features a steak named after him, the chefs wear coats with his face embroidered on them, and his picture is in numerous pictures and drawings on the wall.
Chief among those is a round-faced, rosy-cheeked, pudgy, always-smiling, fun-loving cutup named Cartwright Eustis IV — a creature of habit who probably has logged more hours at College Inn than anyone else, with the exception of former owner Emile Ruffin, whose family began the business in 1933.
By: Susan Langenhennig/Times-Picayune
May 16, 2008
A D.H. Holmes shopping bag is framed in a shadow box. A large painting pays tribute to Mr. Bingle. A quote from Ernie K. Doe — “I’m cocky but I’m good” — is scrawled across a wall plaque.
And general manager John Blancher II wears seersucker pants with his white chef’s coat as he greets guests on warm summer days in the dining room.
Fashion trends may come and go, but during sultry New Orleans summers, lightweight seersucker is always in style.
The striped cotton is so closely associated with the South in general, and the Crescent City in particular, that the Ogden Museum of Southern Art salutes the traditional summer suit during its annual Sippin’ in Seersucker fundraiser, held tonight at the Shops at Canal Place.
In this episode of New Orleans Chefs, sponsored by DCS by Fisher & Paykel, Johnny Blancher from Ye Olde College Inn prepares barbecue shrimp.