Capturing the heart and soul of New Orleans cuisine, Café Nola offers Cajun-style cooking for anyone adventurous enough.
The goal of Cajun-style cooking is to use herbs and spices to enhance the flavors of meat, seafood and vegetables. Nola dishes out a wide variety of critters, from chicken and pork, to shrimp, and crab even alligator. These meets come together in a plethora of combinations as Etouffee’s, Po-boy’s, Jambalayas, and more.
I had mixed feelings about Café Nola after having a full dining experience at the restaurant.
My party and I chose to sit outside and take advantage of the beautiful weather. The ambience outside was charming and homey, and the delectable smells of Cajun spices permeated the air. We were able to hear the band playing inside the restaurant.
The menu was rustic and playful, and there were a wealth of options to chose from.
After a classic garden salad appetizer, I had the Southern Honey Stung Fried Chicken the Crawfish Etouffee. At its core, the garden salad was disappointing. The salad was not tossed so all of the ingredients were plopped on instead of being integrated. A dollop of Blue Cheese dressing the size of a quarter was placed on top. The waitress described that this dressing was home-made and “very good,” so when I barely received any I was disappointed. The small bit that I did initially receive was thick, creamy, and pungent.
The Southern Honey Stung Fried Chicken is as much of a mouthful to say as it is to eat. Four pieces of lightly fried chicken came along with Cajun-style fries, coleslaw, and cornbread. The chicken itself was exceptional. Crunchy on the outside, juicy on the inside, the chicken was fried to perfection. Though, the honey was a little overpowering. The dish would have been more balanced if some other flavor, like spicy, helped counteract the honey’s sweetness.
The coleslaw lacked any direction, and it might as well been left off the plate.
On the other hand, the cornbread was one of the stars of the dish. It was sweet, fluffy, and had nice depth of flavor to it.
The Crawfish Etouffee did not parallel the delectability of the chicken. For starters the dish was cold. The crawfish tasted like it still needed a bit more time to thaw from the freezer. The etouffee was pretty bland. It was a serving of mush that had grittiness to it. There were about ten tiny crawfish pieces to an entire plate of Etouffee. The “dirty” seasoned rice was the only decent food in this dish.
The Cajun fries were delicious. They were well seasoned and had a deep potato-y flavor.
In terms of service, the waitress was very knowledgeable and genuine about the food. The appetizers and entrees were brought out in a very reasonable amount of time. However, there were several mishaps in serving of the food.
The most notable mistake was serving an order of regular fries instead of Cajun fries. In order to rectify this mistake, the waitress deemed it appropriate to sprinkle Cajun seasoning over the fries. This was by no means an appropriate remedy to the situation. Regular fries are standard french fries. Cajun fries involve actually cooking the potatoes with the seasoning in oil, not just sprinkling some seasoning after the fact.
At the end of the day, it isn’t a bad idea to go to Café Nola. Their fried chicken is top-notch, and their cornbread is addicting. However, other lapses in execution make Nola a hit-or-miss experience.