I’ve dedicated tons of these CT Eats columns to the cause of exploring international cuisines — which has been great — but it’s time to come back home. The US has many killer regional cuisines, and the hot dishes from down by the bayou belong to one of its best. So, this week, my friend Kristian and I moseyed down to The French Quarter to savor some cajun and creole delicacies.
I kicked off by jumping into some jambalaya. The chicken and sausage jambalaya “appetizer” was sized as a suitable entree portion, even by U.S. standards. And it was only $4.95, which is a wild deal, good food or not. Thankfully, it actually was great. The flavor was rich and warm with tons of seasoning, good salt, and a light touch of spice.
The rice was rich and stew-y, making the dish homey. I’m not a huge rice person, but this was creamy and flavorful and I couldn’t hold myself back. The chicken was moist and tender — melt-in-your-mouth vibes. And the sausage brought the meaty heartiness to round out this cozy dish.
I was already feeling pretty stuffed after that, so I was unprepared for what came next. My red gumbo entree was enormous and had me #quaking, especially after I tasted it. It had the same tender pulled chicken as the jambalaya, but now it was stewed in red gumbo broth, making it more delectable.
The shrimp was perfectly cooked and flavorful from the way it was essentially marinating in the broth. I was also pleased with this beef sausage. Though it should technically have been the exact same beef sausage used in the jambalaya, the meaty flavor was stronger, balanced by the lighter, sweeter seafood. It was perfect for cutting through the acidity of the tomato-based broth.
The tomato-based red gumbo broth was undoubtedly a winning element. It had a bright tomato flavor without being too acidic, and the seasoning was complex with a pleasing layering of flavors. My only downside was that I was quite confused about the king crab that was meant to be somewhere inside of it. There was one skinny crab leg sticking out of the gumbo, but there didn’t seem to be any meat there I did find one tiny (very tiny) chunk of what appeared to maybe be crab at the bottom of the broth. Otherwise there was no evidence of the whereabouts of the king crab. But this dish — costing only $13.95 US money dollars — like the last, was fairly priced, especially for the portioning of it. So it’s safe to say that I still felt I got some big bayou bang for my humble buck.
I will also take a moment to honor Kristian’s meal. He had already eaten dinner at Douglass before I forced him to come with, so he wasn’t hungry and ended up just ordering dessert. The dessert options featured Southern staples, like peach cobbler, banana pudding, and Kristian’s pick: the beignets.
Being a Norwegian gent, Kristian had never before heard of or tasted a beignet, so he didn’t know what to expect. And I — being both lactose and wheat intolerant — could not taste the beignets to help him judge them. All I can offer was Kristian’s statement: “They’re good. I like them.” I hope that helps.
I was impressed by the food at The French Quarter, especially considering the pricing. You could honestly go there and just order the jambalaya appetizer for $4.95 and leave satisfied. Or do the Kristian thing and order a glass of wine and some beignets and pick food off of your friend’s plate. That’s valid, too.
The restaurant is located inside of a picturesque historic mansion, which enhances the experience. I will add that the service was quite slow, but if you don’t mind that, then you should have a wonderful time characterized by classic Louisiana flavors bold enough to impress any Southern belle.