Vietnamese Kitchen at Lost Love Lounge and Cranston Clements
The very name of this bar, located at 2529 Dauphine Street, can invoke feelings of melancholy and woe, but with good neighborhood company and amazing Vietnamese fare, it's hard to feel forlorn. Co-owner of Lost Love Lounge Geoff Douville understands the role that bars play in human interaction and the inevitable emotions that come of it. He explains, "It, of course, serves a function because people choose to gather there. There's just simply no question of the fact that when humans choose to congregate, ideas are exchanged, people fall in love, people fi nd ways to hate each other, people have fun; there's just a whole range of interaction that people have in a bar."
As a gathering place, it's only fi tting that a bar has a kitchen too. Douville says, "[Having food at a bar] is really a time-honored New Orleans tradition that doesn't get a lot of airplay. There are many examples of bars that have these service windows. They are indicative of that fact that bars for many years have been serving fare in New Orleans. It's a resurgence of something that has been a part of New Orleans culture for a long time."
Lost Love Lounge's Vietnamese Kitchen has been a part of the bar for three years, and has recently found a new chef to take the kitchen formerly known as Pho King to a new level of popularity. Douville says, "I think it's the best that it's been so far. Our principal cook is fantastic and has a real eye for quality and consistency." Douville is a musician himself, playing guitar in eclectic local band Egg Yolk Jubilee.
Douville explains, "We have the electrifi ed component, but we also have a marching component. I'm a regular live music guy, I love seeing music, and have since I was underage and could sneak into bars." Being a guitar man, Douville enjoys listening to others like him; they inspired him to start. He recounts seeing one of his favorite players in Fat City: "Who am I going to see every time they play? We would see the Clements Brothers. I see Cranston Clements on the guitar and he's just so awesome. I love this guy." Before Clements was on that stage, he learned about music through his home piano and school music teachers. Clements says, "I was drawn to music from the earliest conscious moments. I remember going to see Tammy And The Doctor with my grandmom Ruth. When the theme song came on they practically had to call the paramedics for me; I was almost destroyed by the pain and longing of that little ditty!" Clements and his brother Dave formed the Clements Brothers band. He explains, "We went through the whole '60s thing together. I would be a whole different person without having had him to share all the mind-blowing musical experiences with. We skipped out from school to delve into the new Cream album Wheels Of Fire, then we put on Live at the Fillmore and the explosion of awareness that these guys were MAKING THIS STUFF UP hit us. Dave and I were rolling around on the fl oor, leaping into the air, screaming. The whole purpose of music and life changed at that moment. I wouldn't trade anything for the musical experiences I had and was fortunate enough to have my brother to share them with."
Eventually Clements made it big with Wayne Cochran & the C.C. Riders. Clements explains, "I spent some years at universities. Never got a degree, but while at UNO playing in the jazz ensemble, a sax player named Dennis Wilson who had been with [the band] put my name in the hat to audition. That was the next huge transformation in my life. I was given the chance to work briefl y with Wayne's arranger Charles Brent, perhaps the greatest musical mind I've ever encountered. He had faith that I could eventually cut the gig and I was able to hang in long enough to get up to a level that proved to be the training I needed to become a 'pro'."
Now Cranston performs in Nola Country and other guitar-oriented bands in town. His children also went into the music business; his twin sons even formed Clements Brothers Part Deux. Clements elaborates, "Tyler is a brilliant drummer/pianist, Austin is a phenomenal bassist and can tear up guitar. They both are playing with Cyril Neville's son Omari in Rejected Youth Nation. My daughter Annie is in the big leagues: seven years with Sugarland."
Clements has the typical New Orleanian taste for seafood. He says, "My partner Coco Dupuy and I love Maple Street Café. The Oysters Almondine are to die for," but he also likes international fl avors, and anywhere open after midnight, such as Sushi Brothers, Camellia Grill, and Juan's Flying Burrito.