K-Paul's Report: Disappointed
My wife and I are New Orleans transplants-- we're not from here, but we lived here before Katrina's, which to most people seems like enough to say we're "from" here. In any case, we're on a similar eating quest as most friends we know-- looking to try the classics while trying to find new favorites all over the city.
K-Paul's has been on our list for awhile, and after an X-mas party in the CBD only blocks away, it seemed like a perfect trip. We arrived around 8:00 without reservations, and had about a 20 minute wait-- we wandered around the quarter and they were nice enough to call a cell-phone when the table was ready.
We were sat near the back, right by the kitchen-- normally this would be a bit of an insult but with the open kitchen it's a treat to watch the chefs cook and joke while working on everyone's meals. It also meant that the kitchen was very clean and organized, since they knew people were watching. In addition to the kitchen, K-Pauls had a nice ambiance; comfortable with brick walls and foodie paintings; some formal touches but definitely casual.
We're not big into wine, but the cocktails seemed fine, albeit a little on the expensive side. While we were drinking they served us 4 kinds of bread-- a molasses muffin with a good strong flavor but a little too chewy, a passable corn-muffin, standard yeast roll and a jalepeno roll with a nice spice.
For starters, my wife ordered the Gumbo and I had a cup of Turtle Soup (on the menu as part of a special, but they were happy to serve it). She really liked the Gumbo; a very dark roux; better than we can do at home. The turtle soup was actually my first (as I said, we're not from here), and it surprised me-- tasted more like a cowboy chili: thick and heavy, with small and chewy chunks of meat. I was intrigued enough to try turtle again, but probably not at Kpaul's.
For entrees, I had the stuffed pork-chop-- the best description is "massive". The large plate was literally filled with food; the pork-chop stuffed with an overload of melted cheese and smothered in a dark wine & mushroom sauce. The pork was cooked well and I do like cheese, but as I said, this dish seemed more about the volume than flavors. The sides were an interesting roast-potatoes served on top of a potato puree (like a little present on the bottom) and a lot of broccoli, some of which was undercooked. I consider myself a serious eater, but finished less than 1/2 of the dish.
My wife ordered a paneed chicken breast with jambalaya on the side. The chicken had a decent blackened spice, and the jambalaya a good amount of andouille; though it was a red-jambalaya and we're more partial to a brown. Also had a side of grilled vegetables (mostly squash) that wasn't memorable.
Her dish came with a bread-pudding dessert which we could barely nibble-- it came with a large lump of what we thought was ice cream but turned out to be butter with sugar and a cinnamon/bourbon flavor. It was tasty but by that point we were stuffed to the point of it being more 'gross' than 'good'.
All in all we came away disappointed, and likely won't return. We were served plenty of food, but didn't feel like we encountered anything exciting or innovative. The only thing all night with enough spice (and I like spicy food) was the jalapeno roll. Could we have ordered wrong? I know Paul made blackened redfish famous, but I'd much rather burn redfish that I caught myself-- though without a boat this doesn't happen often enough.
Can anyone recommend somewhere with newer interesting twists on the classics?
Your mildly spiced meal is typical these days. Years ago when Paul was at the helm the food had considerably more kick. IMO many dishes no longer resemble the originals. Desserts have always been disappointing. I don't care for their chili tasting tutle soup either. You'll find the best is at Commander's.