Another Favorite Meal: Cafe Nola, Philadelphia, October, 1983

I’m not sure I could ever write the detailed food memoirs that our best food writers entertain us with, but I do recall some personal favorite meals. As with most food memoirs, the food itself is important, but the people and the circumstances are what make the meal especially memorable.

On a Saturday night in October of 1983, my wife and I and three other folks descended on Café Nola in Philadelphia for drinks and dinner.

Nola refers to New Orleans, Louisiana. Café Nola was on South Street in the 80’s. The place was dark. The margaritas were strong. And the food was excellent.

Liberty Bell

Joining my wife and me were my friend Greg Bass (who had flown up from Birmingham to catch the World Series), Charlie Steiner (who was in Philly covering the series for WOR radio and RKO network) and Bobby Rich (who was my new boss as program director of WWSH radio). Greg is a University of Alabama and WTBC/Tuscaloosa radio chum. I had worked with Charlie and Rich at KSTT in Davenport in the 70’s. They had each worked together later in Hartford and NYC.

When I think of Café Nola, I think of my wife’s favorite appetizer: Angels on Horseback. They were oysters wrapped with bacon and served with an amazing sauce. I generally ordered a seafood entrée, usually a shrimp dish, but I also recall getting their jambalaya. (This was before blackened redfish became a national rage, thanks to New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme.) On occasions when I wasn’t stuffed, I remember enjoying their pecan pie.

Cafe Nola

Our evening was filled with baseball talk and radio stories. The Phillies had lost that afternoon and were down 3 games to 1 to the Orioles. Our radio station was fighting a tough uphill battle after transitioning into what would now be called Hot AC station, but Bobby Rich was (and still is) a master at generating buzz. (At one point during my tenure at WWSH with Bobby, we had a “No Michael Jackson” weekend, just to be contrarians at the height of the Thriller album’s popularity.)

Greg is still working in Birmingham making radio spots, Charlie is now doing play-by-play for the Dodgers and Rich has become a radio legend in Tucson. Café Nola has moved a few times and is now on 2nd Street in Philly.


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