Angelette's Cajun Kitchen in the Southwood Area of Tallahassee--A Review (Don't Miss It)
Every once in a while you find a restaurant that is not much on decor, but has such mind-blowing food, you hold your breath, wondering if it will succeed. Angelette's Cajun Kitchen, located in the Southwood Publix Plaza at the corner of Capital Circle Southeast and Blairstone Road (officially 3551 Blairstone Road, Suite 124) seems to have passed that challenge, despite the horrendous economy. The rock bottom prices probably have helped a lot. Everything on the menu is under $10. On to the food . . .
You must try the biscuits and sausage gravy, the best this admittedly non-Southern Chicago-area transplant has ever had. What I love about this biscuits and gravy is that it has FLAVOR. Most biscuits and gravy are all creaminess and starch but have very little flavor. The flavor comes from Andouille sausage, crumbled into the gravy (what this northerner would call a "bechamel sauce.") The biscuits are equally good.
You also should try the "Eggs a la Duane," described on the menu as "Crawfish Cream Sauce over two pan fried grit cakes, served with two eggs over easy and Andouille sausage. I've never had the Bananas Foster French Toast, but other customers rave about them. The beignets are as good as any I have had at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans--light, fluffy and sweet. (The powdered sugar gets all over your dark pants. So be careful. But it is well worth it.)
The lunch/dinner menu gets even better. Try the chicken and sausage file gumbo or the crawfish etouffee, both with that dark, spicy taste characteristic of top notch versions these dishes. The shrimp creole is delicious, but the chef has dialed the spiciness way back on this dish--why on this dish alone, I do not know. Based on the popularity of the spot, he/she must know his/her Tallahassee audience. However, Angelette's also will supply on request its homemade hot sauce, which takes care of the need for more spiciness. (If they have run out of the homemade hot sauce, they will supply you with Tabasco sauce.)
The red beans and rice with Andouille sausage or a milder smoked sausage is another winner. The crawfish pie is the crawfish etoufee served over some sort of popover pastry--extremely popular with patrons. The pastry adds an extra textural dimension to the dish.
One way or another, either alone or with another component of one of these dishes, don't miss the regular grits and the cheese grits--smooth and tasty.
Having grown up on broccoli that had had the living daylights boiled out of it, I have never been a fan of broccoli, but must admit that the shrimp and broccoli salad has made this broccoli-hating diner a convert, at least if I can get the broccoli cooked and dressed the way Angelette's does it. This salad consists of soft lettuces, with broccoli, apples, red onions, pecans, sauteed shrimp, bacon, croutons and a sweet dressing. The broccoli is still crunchy! The combination is something I have never had before.
Much of the rest of the menu consists of workman-like dishes, such as po-boy sandwiches, coming in the following versions: roast beef; Andouille sausage, onions and peppers with provolone cheese (the best of the bunch), chicken salad, or crab cakes. There are also soups, salads, dirty rice, potato salad, and standard breakfast fare, including omelettes with the shrimp creole, etc. as fillings.
The desserts are extraordinary, when you can get them. A lot of my friends go out of their way to avoid bread pudding, but, believe me, you have to try this one. It comes with a wonderful, slightly alcoholic (I think) carmel sauce, called Foster's Sauce, and the breading pudding itself comes loaded with what I can only describe as "Christmas-spice" flavors. The pecan pie is moist, dark and flavorful. My only criticism is that I wish the moist, dark and flavorful layer of filling were thicker. A large quantity of toasted pecans predominates, giving the dish a more tarte-like quality than a pie quality. The tarte a la bouille is rarely available, a vanilla custard tarte with a pureed berry sauce. It was delicious, but the blackberry puree was loaded with blackberry seeds. I am sure that this dish would be superb with a different fruit sauce, which the chef apparently uses, depending on the availability of fresh ingredients.
Service is cheerful and friendly. If you arrive before noon, seating is rarely a problem. After noon, there is often a wait, but despite the "bursting at the seams" appearance of this small restaurant at noon, I have never had to wait more than 15 minutes for an inside table.
Beer and mimosas are available.
Angelette's appears to be moving toward evening full service business. But check before you come. They keep changing the hours and days that they do evening service. The phone number is (850) 656-1772.
I would have given this place five stars for the food alone, the only factor that I think should ever influence one's opinion of the place, but I eliminated one star because other Chowhounds disagree and the decor is, admittedly, bare bones. But just go for the food and you won't regret it. This is certainly the best price-to-quality-of food ratio that you will find in Tallahassee and maybe the best food in Tallahassee.
Cafe Du Monde
5119 N Tamiami Trl, Sarasota, FL 34234
The Cajun Kitchen
2139 W Main St, Tampa, FL 33607
Angelette's is wonderful! I had the Eggs a la Duane and wanted to lick my plate!
I will say, though that I shared the bread pudding with a friend and didn't care for it because it was ice cold. If you are serving me bread pudding with a sauce, I like it warm.
One of the other diners in my group got the etouffee and was not impressed.
I can't wait to go back and try more things, though!
Thanks, Steakman. I had nothing to do with the links to the Tampa and Sarasota spots. Chowhound has some sort of automatic program that does this. The program is not too smart, though. It picked up "Cafe du Monde" when I referred to the famous New Orleans beignet and coffee cafe. It appears to have picked up "The Cajun Kitchen" because it is contained in the name of the place I was reviewing (i.e., "Angelette's Cajun Kitchen").
The Cajun Kitchen
2139 W Main St, Tampa, FL 33607