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Jun 29, 2010 05:13 PM

The Big Easy

We've been a few times now as they've gradually put together a more complete menu. We've only been for Sunday brunch, but have had some enjoyable meals. On our last visit they had several po' boy options, and the two we had were tasty.

The po' boys come with two sides. The mac and cheese, cajun slaw, and fried green tomatoes were good. We tried crab cake and fried oyster po' boys. They were pretty substantial, and the oysters were beautifully fried. The cornmeal batter they use is quite good.

On previous visits we've had beignets (good), sweet crepes (good), bananas foster waffle (meh), and veggie scramble (surprisingly good). Chicory coffee is a nice touch, too.

Not sure if it's a destination spot, but if you're in Hillcrest I'd say it's worth trying. Haven't been for dinner yet, so can't speak to that.

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  1. I would like this place to succeed. How was the service?

    When I was there it was laughable.

    Which po boys did you have?

    2 Replies
    1. re: stevewag23

      Yeah, service is nothing special, but service doesn't bother me unless it's aggressively bad.

      We had the crab cake and the fried oyster. Both were good, but I think I preferred the oyster.

      1. re: Josh

        Yeah, it was pretty bad, like bringing out the wrong entrees, and a slew of other fumbles.

    2. Anyone have a menu? There is not one posted on the restaurant's website.

      1. There is a coupon on

        If you use the promo code summer you can get a 25 certificate for 2$ through today.

        They also list a menu on the site.

        2 Replies
        1. re: normalheightsfoodie

          I just jumped on that deal nhf, thanks for the tip. I think I am going to order the crawfish etouffee, and the shrimp creole. I did the math, and it should be quite the feast for 25 bucks :) Is that summer coupon code good for all restos or just The Big Easy?

        2. Now, I'll confess that my parents are from New Orleans and we'd visit my mom's family often when I was young. So I grew up eating quite a bit of cajun/creole home cooking and I like to make it myself.. It's possible I'm a bit biased when it comes to this style. That said, when my wife and I tried this place a few weeks after it first opened, we were pretty disappointed.

          The Red Beans and Rice was almost unrecognizable. It tasted like bad barbecue sauce, too sweet with some really off flavors. The Jambalaya was dry and quite bland. The shrimp on my Shrimp Creole were overcooked. My wife said her Crawfish Etoufee was okay, but I thought the seasonings really clashed. You could barely taste the crawfish.

          Sorry if it seems overly negative, but I really couldn't recommend it based on my experience. Maybe some of their other dishes are better.

          9 Replies
          1. re: Pentagarn

            Haven't had any of those dishes. Brunch has been pretty good, but breakfast isn't hard to screw up.

            1. re: Pentagarn

              Is anyone familiar with the chef's creole cooking credentials?

              I am pretty sure he is a san diego local.

              Did he ever work in any restaurants in New Orleans, or is he a san diego guy trying to do creole food?

              1. re: stevewag23

                He graduated from the Hyde Park CIA in 1989 so he has been a Chef for quite some time. Does anyone remember where he was working while he was on Top Chef?

                1. re: Captain Jack

                  He was at Delicias in Rancho Santa Fe while he was on Top Chef. It's my understanding that he has no formal background in Southern, Creole or Cajun cuisine but seems to have some personal affinity for it (despite his Italian background). As a biannual visitor to New Orleans I have been avoiding The Big Easy for that very reason (that, and the abomination that was Frankie The Bull's barbeque).

                  Delicias Restaurant
                  6106 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067

                  Santa Fe Cafe
                  445 Santa Fe Dr, Encinitas, CA 92024

                  1. re: foodiechick

                    How does it compare to Bud's, in your opinion? I have LA. friends who really like Bud's but were disappointed with The Big Easy.

                    1. re: phee

                      I went to Bud's when it was in little italy a bunch of times, and I thought it was far superior to The Big Easy.

                      1. re: phee

                        Bud's was better, no question.

                      2. re: foodiechick

                        "but seems to have some personal affinity for it (despite his Italian background)"

                        Italians have always helped make up the rich tapestry of New Orleans cuisine.

                        ex The Muffuletta.

                    2. re: stevewag23

                      Yeah, I think he's a local too. I know he's done a lot of French cuisine.

                  2. Went by the Big Easy for dinner last weekend. Got there right at 8:00pm and there was only one other table occupied. Only one other group of 2 came in the time we were dining. That's not a good sign.

                    The website and the Twitter account said they had gotten their beer/wine license back in July. Apparently they flat out lied or something went wrong because the server said they don't have it yet, they are hoping for another week. Oh well.

                    While we decided on dinners, the server brought our some cornbread. It was mediocre, and somewhat dry. They weren't served with any butter, which was sorely needed since they were dry.

                    We had some etouffee and the orange duck. The crawfish etouffee was fairly spicy but it didn't make me cry or anything. No cream like many bastardizations you see outside of La, but not really traditional either. Fairly tasty, plenty of shelled crawfish, a bit soupier than others I have had. Came served in a bowl over just a bit of so-called dirty rice with no sides. The rice seemed more like seasoned rice without the yummy flavors of traditional dirty rice.
                    The GF's duck l'orange was ok...very small portion of duck breast cooked medium (as recommended by the chef) with the skin left on. I don't think it was even an entire single duck breast, more like half of one. The orange sauce was quite impressive, sublime flavors under the strong orange zest flavor. It was served with some collard greens.

                    Service was fine, but the entrees were overpriced IMO, $20 for small portions and little-to-no sides. We looked at the lunch menu which was much more appealing, and far better priced. We won't go back for dinner but hope to try the po boys some time.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: MrKrispy

                      Yeah, I meant to post a followup here. Our last visit wasn't so good - about a month ago, maybe. Mac and cheese wasn't as good, bread wasn't as good. Wonder if the economy is killing them.

                      1. re: Josh

                        I bet having no liquor license is killing them. Not to mention the sub-par food reviews.

                        Unfortunately, good New Orleans food seems unattainable in san diego.

                        Maybe Frankie should go the route of his Top Chef peer Brian Malarkey and start wearing the hipster fedora. Couldn't hurt.

                        1. re: stevewag23

                          lol I like that idea. Perhaps Frankie should also wear skinny jeans and a bedazzled Ed Hardy shirt to pull in several groups at once?

                          They have been open for most of this year and still don't have a liquor license. That's a bummer. Perhaps if they had gotten around to putting up a menu online after all this time or even a "feel free to BYOB - no corkage" they could have avoided some of that mess.

                          I did like the decor, it was even a bit humorous - as larger sized staff members walked across the wooden floor we would bounce in our chairs haha.

                        2. re: Josh

                          The economy killing them?? Did you read Mr. Krispy's review?? Meh food, no over priced meh food. This is just overall poor, don't blame the economy for bad food, and we wonder why SD gets this rep.

                          1. re: cstr

                            Went for Brunch a few weeks back hit and miss on the fried items oysters were fried well, hush puppies were oil soaked, bread was so dry, no cocktails, rest of food was meh. Bud's is still the only game in town IMO. I have not tried the place in Old Town yet, Creole Cabin or something like that.

                            1. re: cstr

                              Maybe we read it differently - sounds to me like he liked the etouffee well enough, and the duck's orange sauce was impressive.

                              I've had good meals at Big Easy before, though not at dinner time. The first time we had po boys there they were really good. Though the last time we were there the bread was dry, like stevuchan pointed out.

                              We haven't been back, since the last visit was so poor.

                              1. re: cstr

                                Oh - on the economy front, what I meant to imply was that poor business could easily cause the food to suffer. When they first opened, we had some really impressive breakfast items there, with abundant fresh fruit and vegetables. The quality difference between those early visits and our last visit was so dramatic, that it makes me wonder if a lack of customers is forcing them to cut corners on the food, which creates a vicious death-spiral of ever-worsening food, and subsequently worsening word of mouth.

                                1. re: Josh

                                  This appears like another resto owner who didn't do a business model. If you can't price an entree correctly, make a reasonable profit and paid the rent, go find another 'hood with affordable rents or just don't do it. As for the orange sauce, Mr. Krispy mentioned, what good is the sauce if the duck breast is so miniscule it's just all sauce?

                                  1. re: cstr

                                    I think a well-executed dish that's too small for one's liking fails to qualify for "meh" as a descriptor.

                                    1. re: Josh

                                      You're right, it's just a rip-off. Typically, when ordering a duck breast you get a complete half of the breast.

                            2. re: MrKrispy

                              My husband visited last weekend for brunch. He was told by his server that though their liquor license has been approved, they have not physically received it - hence, no alcohol. Make of that what you will...

                              1. re: aloha925

                                Wouldn't be the first time the ABC and/or the city strangled a new business.

                                1. re: Fake Name

                                  I think the ABC & the City used to pull that type of crap a few years ago (i think Neighborhood was one of the places involved in a group of East Village eateries that waited something like 6-9 months for their licenses to be approved) but since revised their policy to expedite licenses for restaurant-based requests. Very strange that it would take that long considering there was a licensed restaurant there before.

                                  1. re: MrKrispy

                                    Picked up food at Sab E Lee in Santee and their ABC sign in the window said it had been placed there in Sept, 2009. It also said that there had been a licensed business there before.