Eric Cormier keeps such close track of what he’s making and selling that at any given time he can reel off how many New Orleans po’ boy sandwiches he’s produced that day. It seems to be his way of marketing himself.
The sales pitch is unnecessary. His seafood po’ boys are outstanding, as are the French fries and onion rings here. There’s not much more than that on the menu.
After 2½ years at his Newtonville Po-Boys, where the snow made it nearly impossible to park and winter traffic was dreadful, Cormier has bought a 1951 food truck. In June, after he paints it, he will drive it into Boston to offer his specialty sandwiches, keeping the tiny 4-booth Newtonville spot open as well.
He’s a talker, going on about where his supplies come from — Captain Marden’s Seafoods, Ipswich Shellfish Fish Market, Restaurant Depot, Russo’s — which sandwich is selling best that day, and other details he might be telling a co-worker, rather than a customer. While he talks, he works quickly, slicing onions, dropping them into egg, then flour, then into the fat bath. And while you wait for your order, he hands you a plate heaped with these amazingly crisp strings. “I say, ‘Is this your first time in? You have onion rings coming.’ Kinda sets a nice tone,” he says. He also makes his own fries.
The seafood sandwiches, made with oysters, shrimp, or catfish ($8.79 to $10.79) begin with crusty bread that Cormier is baking off, then toasting. Onto that goes a pleasingly spicy remoulade sauce — this is also a dipping sauce for fries and rings — made with mayonnaise, spicy mustard, ketchup, and crushed red pepper that he grinds to a powder. Then lettuce, tomotoes, and crisp oysters, catfish fillet, or plump shrimp, all golden, incredibly generous, and nicely seasoned. A fourth sandwich is made with chicken. Platters ($9.79 to $12.79) include fries or rings. And though his menu says otherwise, the only subs he offers are filled with steak ($6.99 to 7.99).
Po-Boys is largely takeout. Cormier, who lives nearby, found the spot while driving by one day. He built the kitchen and brought it up to code, but don’t think spiffy new. The place feels like it’s been here forever. He owns property in New Orleans, which is why he decided to reproduce the crusty, creamy, crisp traditional sandwiches of the region. He had owned another sandwich spot in Everett, which is closed now, and worked in many other fields. “This is one of my toughest endeavors,” he says. The winter was hard on business. When the days turn warmer, he will set a few more tables outside.
The idea that you can run a place that centers on so few things is admirable. Make what you know best and don’t try to offer something for everyone. “What I try to do,” says Cormier, “for everyone who comes into Po-Boys, is treat your customers wonderful.”
He does, talking all the while.