Monday, August 11, 2008

Heaven on Seven

Last Friday, I had lunch downtown at Heaven on Seven with a couple of old friends. Rather, a couple of middle-aged people of long-standing friendship -- so long that there are job-holding, voting-aged married men, my oldest nephew for example, who did not exist when I first met at least one of these people. What did we discuss over lunch? Old times? Not so much: one of my friends was eager to share her recent experience with Facebook.

Heaven on Seven specializes in New Orleans cooking, and does a fine job of it too. It also looks the part, with green and purple tinsel and balloons, and bottles all around the place representing every conceivable hot sauce, many of which are at your table. But the really remarkable thing is its location on the seventh floor of the old Garland Building, at Wabash and Washington. A doyen among Loop office buildings, it dates from 1914 and currently has a tenant base mostly of doctors and dentists. In fact, if I remember right (I've written about the building professionally, but not the restaurant), the Garland has always had such a tenant base.

Heaven on Seven as a New Orleans-style eatery apparently evolved in the 1980s from a coffee shop that had occupied the room for many years. There's a sign on street level that indicates the presence of the restaurant, but it isn't much of a sign, so you have to know about Heaven on Seven. And people do. I've never been there when I didn't have to wait a few minutes to get a table.

Interestingly, the web site of the Garland Building has a good pic of the restaurant, but without the tinsel and balloons. I considered ordering the jambalaya, thinking of the recent passing of Jo Stafford, but ultimately went with the crawfish etouffee, with a jalapeƱo corn muffin on the side, and did not regret it.

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