The Hungry Dutchman: Café NOLA

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By Guss Firestein

It’s a well known fact that college students are constantly hungry. Lucky for us, Schenectady offers a lot of places to grab some grub. Even with many options, it’s difficult to decide where to go. Using my experience from GrubLink and my sympathy for those facing this dilemma, The Hungry Dutchman column was born. Hopefully this column will give you the necessary knowledge to pick where you will go to get your next meal.

If you have been strolling down Union Street recently, you probably have noticed a new establishment named Café NOLA, a Union-friendly establishment whose name is from the origin of the food it serves: New Orleans, Louisiana. Kevin Brown, owner and chef, opened this Cajun restaurant this past summer.

Being only walking distance from Union College makes Café NOLA perfectly situated to become a staple food source for Union students’ lunch or dinner stop.

Café NOLA also has outdoor seating and a very interesting Cajun menu which serves everything from Hush Puppies to Alligator Bites. I did a double take when I saw alligator being served in Schenectady, but Kevin Brown assured me that he gets all of his food from a reliable and good source.

Kevin first came into contact with Cajun food in the 80’s while working for the Albany Marriot. With Kevin’s Portuguese background, it was an easy transition into Cajun cooking. Cajun food is known for being spicy; however, Kevin makes a point of emphasizing that Cajun food does not have to be spicy to be good. While I like spicy food just as much as the next guy, sometimes it is nice to have the choice to decide how spicy you want it.

Because I am not completely familiar with Cajun food, I made sure to find out Kevin’s favorite dish. He decided that the Etouffee was his dish of choice, saying he enjoys its “nutty flavor.” Etouffee is a dish usually with either chicken or shellfish and served over rice (it is similar to gumbo). For those who are new to Cajun food, Kevin suggests trying something with alligator, such as the alligator bites.

I trusted Kevin and ordered the “Blackened Alligator Sandwich,” and I must say it was pretty dandy. The sandwich was served on a burger bun type of roll and filled with mozzarella cheese and some roasted peppers (plus the alligator of course).

All in all, I think Café NOLA is definitely a place everyone should check out. The prices are definitely affordable (my sandwich was $7.50 and completely worth it for some alligator, which tastes almost like chicken, if you were wondering).

For those of us that are of legal drinking age, they do have beer and wine, which is key. While many of us can be lazy and just want to have food delivered to us, this is one of those places that is just worth the short walk down the block.

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