My mother offered last week to watch all three of my children one night during this week when I was feeling better so that Jim could take me out to dinner to celebrate the birth of Granuaile. We talked about going to a movie and hitting a local restaurant, but timing didn’t work out so we could do that. At the last minute (in the car, on the Black Horse Pike, on our way we didn’t know where), Jim phoned the Creole Cafe to see if we could get in on a Wednesday night without a reservation. We were in luck!
We have only eaten at the Creole Cafe once, but we were so impressed with the meal there that we have used them a couple of times for catering events, including Eilis’ first birthday. We were lucky to get in the first time we went, as they usually require reservations on the weekend. On this night, we were the only ones at the restaurant when we arrived at 5:20.
The restaurant is in a converted house on the Black Horse Pike in Williamstown. It’s a bit out of the way, but when you realize the meal literally transfers you to the Bayou of Looozianna, the drive is well worth it!
Having been in the hospital for so long and eating a lot of fast food since I came home, I was determined to make this a multi-course meal. As we browsed the extensive menu, trying hard to keep the drool off the table, Jim and I both decided on a bowl of soup to start. I ordered the Crawfish Bisque and Jim had the soup of the day – a red beans and rice soup that was similar to a vegetarian chili.
The bowls were full to the rim. The crab bisque was thick and creamy, with generous lumps of crawfish throughout. There was a noticeable flavor of fresh cracked pepper, but the rest of the spices were a mysterious Cajun blend that was light enough that even the spice-phobic would have enjoyed them. There is a healthy sprinkle of additional spices around the rim of the bowl, so if you are feeling adventurous, you could add them in for a spicier flavor, but I completely enjoyed the soup the way it was. Jim’s bowl was a thick blend of red beans, spices, and white rice. Served steaming hot, it had more of a spicy kick to it than the crawfish, but again, the spice wasn’t so overwhelming that you couldn’t enjoy the light tomato flavor. I noticed Jim sopped up the last remnants with one of the delicious warm rolls served at the start of the meal.
We continued our feast with the house salad. I enjoyed a honey mustard dressing, but after tasting Jim’s raspberry viniagrette, I was jealous! My dressing was very good; Jim’s dressing was delicious! The salad was a nice variety of field greens with grape tomatoes, cucumbers, thinly sliced onion and carrot. It was a good sized bowl of salad and we were both glad we ordered them – although we were already getting full!
The extensive menu for dinner makes it virtually impossible to choose something. There are cajun specialities, pastas, steaks, chops, poultry – everything you could ask for and the unusual. You will find on this menu ostrich steaks, elk chops, lamb, crab, catfish and more. Jim settled on a Cajun classic of seafood jambalaya, and I chose something I had seen another diner order on our last visit. It was a filet mignon, butterflied, and stuffed with crawfish in a cream sauce. On the menu, it is called the French Quarter Filet Mignon.
Jim’s huge bowl of seafood jambalaya was a very ample portion of shrimp, scallops, andouille sausage, and crawfish in a light and tasty tomato sauce served over white rice. The bowl was full of the delicious and perfectly prepared seafood. The dish also contained tenderly cooked pieces of onion, celery and peppers in a perfect blend to compliment and not overpower the flavor of the seafood.
The first thing I thought when my plate arrived was that Dr. Atkins was rolling over in his low-carb grave. My delicious and perfectly medium filet was accompanied by three side dishes. The first side dish, as described on the menu, was a mashed potato with gorgonzola cheese. Completely decadent and delicious. The second side dish was a cajun flavored rice, a little tame compared to the potatoes. The third was a creamed corn known as Machoux. All I can say about the corn was that it was like heaven as a side dish. I don’t remember everything they told me was in the corn, but it had bits of onion and heavy cream, and was so flavorful and delicious, I could make it the only food I would ever eat again if I had to choose just one food. I am already delirious with excitement and have not even gotten to my steak yet!
I immediately cut the filet in half and scooped half of the crawfish and the delicious brandy cream sauce onto the half I was going to eat. Little by little, I added more of the delicious crawfish to the half I was allowing myself to eat and leaving less for the half I was going to take home. It was that delicious! I found out later that if you are low carbing, you can replace the side dishes with steamed vegetables, but even if you are low carbing, you might want to splurge just this once and enjoy the trio of carb laden side dishes.
We were completely full after this, but as I said, this was going to be a multi-course meal, and I was not skipping dessert! The dessert menu changes at Creole Cafe, but one of the things you will almost always find is the Bananas Foster. That’s what I chose. You get a very generous serving of vanilla ice cream, covered in a sweet and warm caramel sauce and sliced bananas. Jim enjoyed one of the day’s specials and not on the menu – a parfait of chocolate and white chocolate mousse. I wish we hadn’t been so full – next time we might have to scale back the starters so we can more thoroughly enjoy the delicious desserts.
The restaurant is open six nights a week, and by the time we finished our meal that Wednesday evening, our dining room was full (there are several small dining rooms). I would say even in the middle of the week, unless you plan to get there as they open, make a reservation. They also do not have a liquor license, but you are welcome to bring your own whatever you would like. We saw tables with bottles of wine and coolers of beer.
On the way out, we noticed a sign for an upcoming event that featured an all you could eat Cajun feast. It looked like a great thing to come back for – if only the baby was a little older! The diners around us were all very familiar with the restaurant, and all had favorite entrees. I would like to go back often enough to try each one to find my favorite!