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Oct 5, 2009 05:27 AM

Clarence's Taste of New Orleans

Any recent updates or opinions of this place in Edgewood, MD? I'll be driving back from New York next Monday evening, a trip that I usually make non-stop, but since I probably won't get on the road before about 5 PM this time, I'll probably want to make a stop for food and rest before I get home. I've had Clarence's in the back of my mind since I first read about it here a while back and thought that might be a reasonable stopping place.

The web site seems to still be alive, so I guess it's still there. Is it still a good bet for a stop on this route that's not just another chain or rest stop, and not too far off the highway so as to be a significant delay?

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  1. As sort of planned, I took a little detour off I-95 on my way home from New York on Monday night. Followed my GPS (it knew the restaurant by name) and found myself in this large lot next to a MARC station, with a building that looked like it could be a restaurant but looked pretty dark inside, and not a single car in the parking lot. This was about 7:45 PM. But there was a cloth banner over the end with the door that say "Clarence's Open" and from that side, I could see some lights on inside. Faced with the possibility of an alternate dinner at a Denny's that I passed on the way there, I went in, and sure enough, there were no other customers, not even at the bar.

    I asked the bartender/waitress if they still had food, she said they did, handed me a menu, and I sat down. I had pretty much decided that the jambalaya would be my test dish, so that's what I ordered. It tasted great, more cayenne than what I usually put in when I make it myself, but all the essential ingredients were there. This was just chicken and andouille sausage. The deluxe version includes shrimp, but since I'm sometimes allergic, I avoided it. I was pleased that they made it with and without.

    I wish I had three or four people along to get a better sampling of the menu, but it was just me, and I don't like to eat too heavily when I'm driving. I'd definitely consider it worth a return visit if I'm passing by at meal time. This was Plan B before the weekend was over - Plan A had become to leave NY about 10 AM and stop at Clarence's for lunch, but the day got too short too quickly. Maybe they do a better lunch business, or an earlier dinner business, or everyone stayed home because of the Columbus Day holiday. It's loney dining alone, when you're really alone.

    The place looks pretty small, about half bar area with a couple of booths (that's where I sat) and tables on the other side of an open divider. Decor is wood, red leatherette, New Orleans photos, and Mardi Gras beads.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MikeR

      Sorry i didn't see your post earlier but i am so glad you made the trip. This spot is near work for me & I have been a few times. We did our holiday luncheon there last year & they treated us wonderfully.. . I am sure the (Columbus day) holiday had a lot to do with it, but not surprised they weren't too busy - this is in an out of the way spot, albeit right outside the base & train station... Definitely a spot that needs support from hounds!

      Next time you go, check out the website for their monthly coupon. Right now i think it is a reduced price for shrimp. I have had a few of their soups, the jambalaya, a salad, a sandwich & everything has been tasty. Besides the regular menu of pub fare as well as the spread o New Orleans specialities, there is always a full page of weekly specials - some very interesting choices, often better bargains than the regular menu. I would love to know what others think of them - I can't wait to try more of their fare!

      1. re: foster

        Thanks for the input. Since it was dark and there was some construction along the road and I have never been in the area, it probably seemed more out-of-the-way than it really is. Still, it's only about 10 minutes off I-95. I first read about the place here in a discussion about good eats along the I-95 strip.

        Since I'm sometimes allergic to shrimp, I didn't take advantage of the coupon, though a couple of the specials did look good. Since I live in Falls Church, it's really only sensible for me to eat there when I'm on the road. I'm not likely to become a regular, but I probably would become one if I was in the neighborhood.

    2. We often visit family in Harford County over the holidays. We went to Clarence's on Saturday night and found it to be a very nice New Orleans-style restaurant, one of the best restaurants we've been to in the local area. My jambalaya deluxe, gumbo, and bread pudding with whisky sauce were all delicious, and my wife's red beans and rice was fine as well. Thanks for the Chowhound guidance on this one!


      2 Replies
      1. re: mdg

        Glad you enjoyed it. Was it busy on a Saturday night? I always worry about a restaurant when I'm the only customer.

        1. re: MikeR

          It wasn't too busy, but the weekend after Christmas tends to be a down time for restaurants.

          I've been to New Orelans a few times, and Clarence's gumbo and jambalaya was very much in line with what I've had there at mid-priced restaurants. The bread pudding came pretty close too. And regardless of authenticity concerns, the food was very tasty, well-prepared, and with plenty of personality. The personality part can be a bit tricky to find in Harford County.


      2. I personally find nothing there remotely cajun-esk in flavor. Having lived many years in E Texas (where all the Iberians come to find jobs) I ate a lot of cajun and creole cooking. While Clarence's is the only thing around like it, it falls short; IMHO.

        2 Replies
        1. re: drlee_susquespine

          In Texas, you'll find more creole than cajun, and probably more of the creole influence at restaurants that call themselves one or the other. Clarence's is more New Orleans than cajun, but more cajun than creole. At least that's what I get from the menu and one bowl of jambalaya.

          So I'm not surprised that it's not like home in Texas. I have a friend who grew up in south Texas and grew up on what they called Mexican food. He criticizes every Mexican restaurant around here as not being "like home."

          There's no place like . . .

          1. re: MikeR

            Depending on where in Texas actually. Creole is city and cajun is country or swamp. Creole has more African influence and is more in the African American population. The majority of the people I knew were "coon-ass," a loving Texan term for rednecks from S. Louisiana. Gumbo is to Louisiana what chili is to Texas. Everyone has there own way and they're all the only way.

            I'm just saying Clarence's was nothing like I ever had/make and I didn't really enjoy it.