"Mardi Gras" in Queens Is No Party
- Alex Navarro
I went with a group of five to a cajun restaurant called Mardi Gras near Forest Hills (70-20 Austin St. (70th Rd.) Queens, NY, 11375 (718) 261-8555) last week. Why? (If one needs a reason) I've decided to sample every cajun or creole restaurant in the five boroughs to test the thesis that none are very good. (I'm interested in anyone's thoughts, by the way, as to why it is New York has such a hard time supporting a good Louisiana-style restaurant. If there isn't a good reason not to, my fantasy is to open one myself).
Everything started okay, with a decent bottled beer selection (Abita and Blackened Voodoo, among others), good enough Andouille sausage and great gumbo to start, offset somewhat by mediocre popcorn shrimp, tasteless veggie fritters/hushpuppies and just-awful fried calamari.
Things went a bit downhill at dinner. Crawfish etouffee had a slightly fishy (?!?!) taste. The Jamabalya and Fried Chicken were ordinary. A pasta with seafood was burdened by an overly-sweet tomato sauce. Creole Shrimp was the best of the lot.
With little excitement, we shared one dessert, a halfway decent Sweet Potato Pecan Pie, which to our amazement and consistent with our server's assurances, was not sickly Karo-sweet.
Cooking With Jazz in Whitestone is next. I have not given up hope.
i'm very interested in your little test...as a lover of true louisiana/new orleans food, i also could never understand why ny doesn't have at least one faithful cajun/creole restaurant...i have been too a few, k-paul when he was on broadway, cajun on 8th av, delta grill on 9th, texarkana and all the other permutations of louisiana/southern that i can't remember... i've read mixed reviews of cooking with jazz and have wanted to try it for years, but i think i'm afraid i'll be sorely dissapointed.... is it the lack of indiginous ingredients? certainly there is no match for gulf oysters up here and i've never seen anyone fly them in, although you can get oysters from the west coast at almost any decent seafood rest...rarely see fresh crawfish, although i did manage to find some about 7 yrs ago in chinatown(and cheap..like $2.00/lb)..but a really good jambalaya should be relatively easy to recreate, or an etoufee,a gumbo, maybe its the weather!!! i just came back from nola for the jazz fest, for the 9th or 10th year and i always eat well, many memorable lunches,dinners, etc., some of the food at the jazz fest is the best of its kind in the whole city!! i've eaten take out from 24hr delis in the quarter that have better food than some restaurants in ny...its a way of life down there, an important fundamental part of living, and they don't obsess like we do here in ny... well keep up the search and i look forward to reading your results..allen