Evangeline's Cafe - not what I was hoping for
Ever since moving here from Louisiana a year ago, I have been homesick for food. I was told to head south to Evangeline's for a taste of home in the form of good gumbo, red beans, and poboys.
I went there tonight and I was completely disappointed. My girlfriend got a cup of the red beans and rice with sausage and made a face when she tasted it. I tried it and we agreed that it tasted as thought it was made with a Zataran's mix out of a box. The sausage tasted like turkey sausage (not good in this context) and hadn't been grilled or sauteed before it was added to the beans. This is pretty important, as that completely changes the taste.
Next up was a cup of the chicken and sausage gumbo. Again, with the turkey sausage. The gumbo was overly thick and gummy and had a taste a little like vinegar in the background. Too many bay leaves had been added to the pot and that flavor was really overpowering. The roux was dark, yes, but tasted as if it were on the wrong side of burnt. Another disappointment.
My girlfriend got a fried shrimp poboy and didn't like it at all. For starters, the bread is all wrong. It's great bread and very tasty, to be sure. But it is completely wrong for using in a poboy. The bread here was super thick and dense with a heavy crust. The poboy ingredients get completely lost in it. There is a reason that poboys are served on light, flaky bread---the ingredients (which are the point) are allowed to shine. The bread at Evangeline's would have been great for a big Italian sandwich but made a lousy poboy. Furthermore, the shrimp were overly breaded. Once the breading was removed, the shrimp were great--tender and mildly buttery. I think we're both firm believers in not over-breading fried seafood. Just toss it in some seasoned cornmeal and have at it. I shudder to think of what they do to friend oysters there.
Next up, the fried pickles. I've had a hard time finding fried pickles in Austin that aren't the entire spears. They were pretty good but, like the shrimp, overly breaded. Again, just toss the things in a little cornmeal. They're pickles, they don't need a lot of decoration.
Last, I got an order of the boudin. This was my favorite part of the meal, probably because it wasn't made in-house. Granted, it wasn't perfect. They could have served a slightly spicier version and grilled it so the outside casing was crispy, but it was still tasty.
Overall, I was disappointed. It's not a horrible restaurant, but it is by no means an authentic Louisiana/Cajun/Creole restaurant. I'm about to just stop looking. It's not like I expected to move here and eat the same things I did back home, but I kept seeing all these places advertising Louisiana food.
My next try is the Real New Orleans Restaurant in Round Mountain (about an hour west). An entire congregation from New Orleans East moved out here following Katrina and opened a restaurant. I remember seeing their signs (Smokin' for Jesus!) when I would drive out on Chef Menteur. I have admittedly much higher hopes for them.
Do not, let me repeat, do not go to Louisiana Longhorn Cafe in Round Rock. Save your money. You can cook better etouffee & gumbo at home on a bad day. And LLC uses regular old link sausage in their red beans. WTH? It was so odd to me that with andouille available in HEB, Central Market & Whole Foods that they didn't go for authentic taste. I will say the fried oyster poboy's at Gene's New Orleans Style Poboy are the closest I've found to the real deal. Nubian Queen Lola makes decent red beans & rice but she doesn't use much salt in them so they'll be bland at first bite. I can't remember if she used andouille or not. I am totally going to try out the Real New Orleans Restaurant as soon as I can.
I've been living here for over two years, post-K. Still have yet to find anything like New Orleans cooking other than what I cook in my kitchen. I have gone over to Gene's Po-boys in East Austin for something that is as close to a roast beef poboy as you can get outside the city. The funny thing is there is no Domelisi's, no Bozos and defintely no Radostas, but there is a ton of tex-mex and bbq. I like to think that the only place in the world to get New Orleans food is in NOLA. I miss going to Luizza's for a scooner and some pasta with red sauce, and I would die for Drago's chargrilled oysters. There are many places around Austin that desire to be New Orleans food, but none that can come close. If you find any, please let me know. I'm always will to try, but as my wife says, "If you want New Orleans food in Austin, you better off cooking it yourself."
Check out my review of The Real New Orleans Style Restaurant (link above). That is one serious taste of home. Rudeboy has a good idea about starting a carpool--it's far enough away to warrant one. I hope that more people will check that place out. I want them to get tons of business so they never close! :)
Where are you from in LA? My family used to run a cajun restaurant in Orange in the mid 80s.
I'll have to start this discussion by saying that I haven't been to Evangeline's (I've tried twice, but they are closed on some day of the week).
I feel your pain. It seems that I'll get a good cajun dish every now and then, but as a cuisine, it is horribly inconsistent in a restaurant. First - everyone wants their momma's gumbo, and no one else can make it like that. But I'm not sure what people are thinking when they serve overly starched pools of black goo. I'm sure that the former Jazz used cornstarch, as I could stand my spoon up in it. Sambet's chicken and sausage version is salty, virtually inedible, and they use the same roux and stock for their seafood gumbo and so called etouffee (you might like their poboy's, though). I could go on....I've had a wonderful gumbo at Louisiana Longhorn Cafe, but when I brought my friends back to taste it, it was not up to par (and I was embarrassed).
Maybe we can carpool out to Real NO? Let me know how that works out!
I'm from Slidell, worked and went to college in New Orleans before moving out here a year ago for more school.
God, wasn't Sambet's terrible? I swear I tasted oregano in the gumbo and they put CHEESE on their roast beef poboy. That is just so messed up. I didn't know not to ask for it because WHO DOES THAT?
But tonight, oh tonight I found the place. Oh honey, let me tell you it was awesome. The Real New Orleans Style Restaurant. I'm about to go review them in their own thread, so head on over to: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/546960