This is my last New Orleans food post. The only remaining NOLA post I have is one from a tourist’s point of view which includes a walking tour.
While our visit to Lüke is a perfect example of modern New Orleans cuisine, I am adamant about trying something old school before I leave. I am in search of etouffee before I leave because more than a decade ago, I make this for my (then) Creole spouse who did not have the heart to tell me how awful it is. The feedback I receive is interesting to say the least with lots of “hums” and “ohs”.
Since I don’t have much time left, I ask around and find that the general consensus for the best etouffee is at Bon Ton Cafe, but there is a challenge. The restaurant is not open on the weekends.
As luck has it, I do not leave until Monday night and am able to visit for lunch with, Chief Chowzter San Francisco, Sandy Wada and her husband Ken.
The restaurant is quaint and charming, with checkered tableclothes on every table. A basket of crackers are on every table including packets of Melba toast — something I haven’t seen since my childhood in Hong Kong. In fact, even some of the Chinese-style Western restaurants there don’t offer this anymore. I happily munch on these crisp bread slices with a generous slather of butter while we peruse the menu.
I notice another dish I have yet to eat in the four days here: jambalaya. So our meal after Cochon Butcher turns out to be more than just etouffee.
We order Bayou Jambalaya ($12). I am glad to see that it is an appetizer portion and tastes pretty much the way I imagine real jambalaya to. The rice is a tad wet for my liking, but flavor-wise, it is perfection! Dotted generously with andouille sausage, shrimp and crawfish, the rice is well infused with the umami of the seafood. I could have eaten the entire plate myself, but there is still etouffee to tackle.
I casually mention to our server we were are for the etouffee and she suggests we order the combination of Shrimp Etouffee and Crawfish Etouffee ($16.50) with buttered parsley rice. Each has its own unique flavors, but I definitely love the shrimp more even though I am very impressed by the texture of the crawfish. This is the difference with fresh crawfish as opposed to frozen, and I think the only type I’ve really eaten out here on the west coast has been frozen. I’m not a huge fan of the Boiling Crab craze — well, that’s not true, I eat the shrimp and crab, but not the crawfish when I go there.
I choose the collard greens as a side and it arrives filled with flavor from the bacon it is cooked with. The meal here is absolutely delightful and I am very happy to end my trip on such a positive note.
Next up, walking tour in the Garden District.
Bon Ton Cafe
401 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70130