Falls Church -- New Orleans Cajun Seafood -- just opened April 8
"New Orleans Cajun Seafood" -- just opened April 8
It is In the same shopping center area as Mark's Duck House, but over in the building perpendicular to Mark's.
We didn't get a chance to eat, because we had just had a late lunch, but when I see "New Orleans" and "Cajun" and "Seafood" ALL in one name, I have to go check it out ASAP.
While we were there chatting with the proprietor (very friendly), a man was picking up his order of fried catfish, wings and some other things. I asked if he'd eaten there before, and he happily told me that he was there today after eating there last night, this time getting takeout for his whole family. He was extremely enthusiastic about the fried flounder he'd had. He also had gotten the boiled shrimp (heads on) with a garlic sauce that he said his daughter "tore up -- after she got over the head thing." The man said he was going to be "coming here a LOT!" (I've never seen someone so enthusiastic -- and he was NOT a relative. LOL).
The owners have had another place of the same name in Orlando for six years. She said they make everything from scratch (nothing pre-prepared, which I took as "Sysco" kind of food. I did note they serve crinkle fries, FWIW). I asked if they used ONLY Gulf shrimp, and she said yes, but maybe hedged, saying she always tastes the shrimp before she buys from the supplier (and that sometimes the batch of Gulf shrimp may not be the one that is the best flavor). They use frozen shrimp, which I'd expect. (I don't want farmed shrimp from Thailand, so I am anxious to try the shrimp).
I cannot wait to go get a shrimp po'boy! And the shrimp platter was very reasonable, too. -- a dozen for $9! They have gumbo and jambalya, and beignets with Café du Monde coffee. Mr. Alka was hoping for some crawfish étoufée, but no luck there.
The place was very neat, clean and pleasantly decorated, and had maybe (?) eight tables that could seat four to six persons (at least).
I wish I could have eaten so I could give you a first report, but….now you know where to check out the new place.
I went in and gave it a try today and it was fairly good. The owners are very sweet and the place is very clean. I was looking for oysters and their specialty is crawfish so take my experience with a grain of salt. I wanted jambalaya and an oyster PoBoy, both of which have oysters, and their oysters got cleaned out last night by a large party so I switched up to gumbo and a softshell PoBoy. The gumbo is rich and soupy, good chunks of shrimp and sausage. The owner warned me that it was soupy not thick, but this is what I remember my gumbo being like in New Orleans so I was good with it.
The softshell crab PoBoy was fair, the crabs were kind of overpowered by the bread, lettuce and pickles (?) but the crabs themself were good. If I had it to do over, I would put both crabs in one half of the bread and enjoy a very meaty, crabby half sandwich.
I want to come back and try the oyster PoBoy, but I think I really need to come back and learn how to eat crawfish. Going to a crawfish shack and complaining that their softshell crabs aren't meaty enough is kind of silly on my part. Felix's crawfish etouffee is one of my alltime favorite dishes, so I know I love crawfish, but I need to learn how to eat them right.
Very blurry pictures of the menu and the softshell PoBoy below. Sorry, my picture of the menu is legible but in the size chowhound has it isn't.
ziv, if you ever do oysters at home, try making a "ponzu mignonette sauce" like we had at pappadeaux's in houston. it had a mysterious, delicious and really complex flavor!
i don't have a recipe, but you get the idea.
ziv, did your crab po'boy have remoulade sauce?
and…wassup wit da pickles?
finally, i am not a soft shell fan, but when mr. alka has gotten them around these parts, it has always seemed sort of scrawny to me. since i don't get them, i have no pre-mr. alka experience in florida or on trips along the gulf coast.
Alkapal, my PoBoy didn't have remoulade sauce, which is why I think they added the pickles since white remoulade is mayo, cabbage, creole seasoning and pickles (or pickle juice) usually. But isn't New Orleans remoulade usually the red vinegar and tomato puree type?
Anyway, the softshells were small but tasty and didn't have any 'off' parts to them like I have had at other seafood places nearby. (The cajun place at Eden Center comes to mind, theirs are cut up and served over rice and green peppers, good but inconsistent)
I seldom prepare or eat oysters at home, but the ponzu mignonette sounds good. But I just bought a nice bottle of white wine vinegar and the best recipe for ponzu I found calls for CHAMPAGNE vinegar. I think I am going to end up with a pantry full of 3/4 full bottles of specialty vinegars! ;-)
you can never have too many vinegars or mustards. LOL
here is chef john folse's south louisiana remoulade sauce:
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup Creole mustard*
1/4 cup parsley, minced
1 tsp hot sauce
1/2 cup green onions, minced
1/4 cup celery, minced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
*or substitute Dijon mustard
cf. the french version
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons French style mustard
1 tablespoon capers, drained, rinsed and chopped finely
1 tablespoon finely chopped pickles
2 anchovy filets, chopped finely
2 tablespoons chopped chervil
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
salt and pepper
here's another remoulade, the one with ketchup:
(from Irondale Cafe)
2 Quarts Mayonnaise
4 oz Ketchup
4 oz Creole Mustard
2 oz Chopped fresh Parsley
2 oz Cayenne pepper
2 oz Lemon juice
2 oz Horseradish
2 oz Fresh chopped garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp Worchestershire
1 1/2 Tbsp Celery salt
1 1/2 Tbsp Paprika
Actually, pickles are standard on a "dressed" po-boy in New Orleans. So they done good there.
Funny, I see "New Orleans" and "Cajun" in the same sentence and I wince! It's wrong. That's not to say there's not Cajun food in New Orleans, but you need to go to Cajun Country (S/SW of NOLA) for the good, authentic stuff. But OK, Cajun Country is close enough so if they want to do two types of food, I have no gripes. Offically off the soapbox.
But thanks for posting. Good to know. We'll work up some nerve (former New Orleans residents and hate being disappointed when we're craving something from "home") and check it out.
Like I said, Cajun is there but it's not FROM there. Creole was the original "cuisine" of New Orleans. You know, as original as you can get from a place so old (for this country, anyway.)
I'm editing to say Cajun for me = Lafayette, Houma, LaFourche Parish, Mamou, Eunice - those just can't compare to New Orleans.
VaPaula, what is the difference between Creole and Cajun foods? What dishes are specialties of the two? Is crawfish etouffee creole? Poboys? Do you have a favorite website that is useful for finding hole in the wall cafes that serve one or the other, or is the Chowhound for New Orleans probably the best place to look?
Sorry for all the questions but some of my all time favorite dishes have been served in New Orleans and if there are better places nearby I would definitely like to try them next time I am in the area. For an idea of what I consider to be excellent food, I really love the crawfish etouffee at Felix's.
See now I'll only eat raw oysters at Felix's since I found the cooked food meh. BUT, I haven't been there for years AND I doubt I had the etoufee there. Too many friends and husband's family have spoiled me for it.
For me (and if I were home, I'd have my husband weigh in since he was raised and spent 50+ years living in Southwest Louisiana; I only lived in LA for about 5 years) Cajun food is more country/peasant, Creole food is more refined. Cajun is spicier. Creole uses more tomatoes. These are all off the top of my head and how I learned the difference. Google Cajun vs. Creole and you'll get numerous hits, some of which say the opposite of what I just said!
I'm looking at your questions, and thinking "New Orleans" probably has to be put in a separate category, since I think of po'boys as strictly New Orleans. Etoufee, anything smothered, stews, etc., definitely Cajun, but plenty of people would argue with me. ;-)
Chowhound is probably a good source, and I'm sure this topic has come up on the New Orleans Board. I don't go there for food-related NOLA discussions, I go here (although my husband posts way more than I do these days):
But I have to mention that I'm biased because many of these posters (including Mr. Lake) are very good friends of mine, so I think it's a great forum! Mostly natives, btw. One of the things I thought was interesting is that friends who were born & raised in New Orleans didn't know from jambalaya growing up. They have very strong opinions about what's original, what's authentic, what has been brought about over time to please the masses (i.e. tourists).
Sorry for the long post, but I find food evolution fascinating + I have a passion for New Orleans and its people, food & culture. It's like no other place in this country.
As VaPaula once told me, it's important to realize that Cajun is the local pronunciation of Acadian: the French fishermen/loggers settlers from the Atlantic Provinces of Canada that sought a new life in Louisiana, perhaps after the British routed the French?
The Creoles are the French who settled New Orleans - some of whom had servants and lived a city lifetstyle.
That's the condensed second-hand comic book version. Like the intro to Argo.
Thanks for the reply VAPaula. I like the oysters at the Acme just as much as at Felix's, and I am not surprised that there are better places for Cajun and/or Creole food, but it was my first really delicious dish in NO and I will always love it.
I did google cajun vs. creole and it seems like the etouffee at Felix's has a substantial tomato base since it is a brownish red so maybe it leans toward Creole, but it is forehead sweat spicy, which is about my favorite level of spice. If my neck and scalp start to sweat too, that is one level too hot. ;-)
Their menu claims both types of food are served there, though that may just be the owner trying to cover all his bases.
New Orleans is my favorite city to visit, and I've been there enough times to know that trying restaurants around here with the words "Louisiana," "Cajun," "Creole," or "New Orleans" in the name is rarely worth the calories.
There are exceptions of course, and one of them, at least for a while, was Copeland's. (Just like the Carnegie Deli in the Embassy Suites at Tysons Corner, when it first opened, was really good too.)
I'm glad to hear that they opened. I saw a permit on the window maybe 6 weeks ago, with the name of the place, and then a few days later, the permit was gone and there was a hand written sign in, I think, Vietnamese, on the window. I've been away for the past two weeks so I haven't walked past there to see any signs of life. Because of the Vietnamese sign, I thought it might have been the crawfish place in the Eden Center relocating, but I think that has a slightly different name.
Mike, the crawfish place at Eden Center is a vietnamese family from Texas. The crawfish place oppo Mark's Duck House is a vietnamese family from Florida. I love this country. :-)
_Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
Your chefs, with dishes to please
Send these, the Chowhound worthy, to me!
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!_
I recommend the book Stir the Pot: The History of Cajun Cuisine by Marcelle Bienvenu to understand the differences between Cajun and Creole cuisine.
Can't win for losing. Growing up in the Cajun southwest part of the state in Vermilion parish, New Orleans natives were forever putting down the Cajun part of the state. Then when Paul Prudhomme came to New Orleans and infused Cajun cooking into Creole cuisine, they claimed it as their own, even to the point that nowadays there are actually many people so confused about Cajun and Creole that they ask if there is any Cajun food in Southwest Louisiana the way they do it in New Orleans! Sheesh!
Crawfish dishes were definitely Cajun before they may have entered the Creole cuisine. The crawfish was considered poor peoples food, and you were low class if you ate it. It's Cajun, from the southwest part of the state. And there weren't any restaurants that served it before the 1950s or so.
Poboys are a New Orleans, city original, but you can get poboys all over Cajun country today too, and sometimes just as good as in New Orleans, though they would dispute my claim!
Stir the Pot does a good job covering how the regional differences developed.
"Southwest" is a very old term in Louisiana. It covers the whole area west of the Mississippi River and south of say Alexandria, what geographically might look like South Central, but South Central is not a term that has historically been used. See the old University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette, what some people today want to call the South Central region of the state.
So the very name New Orleans Cajun Seafood definitely has a cringeworthiness to people of a certain age, but maybe not to younger people who have no sense of the history of how New Orleans was viewed by other areas of the state.
Sheesh, thanks for dating me.
Just kidding-great post! I'm familiar with Bienvenu, but never read that book. Thanks for the rec.
I gasped at the thought of anyone asking if there's Cajun food in SWLA! Aside from the food, some of the nicest, kindest people I've ever met.
My husband grew up in Calcasieu Parish & still has lots of friends in the area.
I had their oyster po boy. What a dreamy sandwich! It's amazing how a few simple ingredients can take on a synergy that make them sublime all together.
The bread is terrific. Makes you curse other places that just don't care. Overall, my ideal of a po boy.
With the oysters there was no question of the bread dominating, unlike Ziv's soft shell version upthread.
Finally, some place really worth going to in Willston Shopping Center!
Steve, I tried to order the Oyster poboy and they were out that day! Now I know I will have to go back and try not just the oyster poboy but some crawfish as well. The owners are very cool and I wish them well and hearing that you had a great poboy makes me completely positive that I will be back sooner rather than later.
I had a rather unexciting catfish po' boy there today. Nothing really bad about it except that it wasn't really good. Catfish is pretty mild, but so was the breading, and the only thing that really had any taste in the sandwich was the pickles.
When the cook asked me how I liked it, I told her that it needed more zip, and not with hot sauce. I asked about remoulade figuring that if two of us asked for it, they might get the idea. She said they had it on the side, but you have to ask for it. I'm not sure if this was good enough to try it again even with the remoulade.
Too bad I can't reliably eat shrimp without itching all over (me, not the shrimp). That might have more potential.
The catfish is well executed, but I agree that it doesn't make for a particularly interesting po boy. Oysters are the way to go!
i went back with my family to try a few more items. The gumbo (chicken, sausage, ham) is smokey and spicy and oily with a nice deep flavor. The jambalaya (a seafood version) is pretty much the same but sweet instead of smoky, so I didn't like it.
I'm too much of a Maryland steamed seafood fan to be interested in boiled seafood, so I'll leave that for others.
I had the oyster Po' boy today and made sure they did not put on their "normal" mayonnaise. I asked for remoulade and they had some confusion as to what I was asking for. Finally they opened a bottle of a remoulade dressing and let me use it. It was better than the alternatives. The oysters were very good - not much to interfere with the oysters which were fresh, fried nicely, and some crunch.
I also had the beignets - ok but nothing I would have again.
Very nice people.
I think Cajun Experience (I think that is the name) in Leesburg has a better oyster po' boy. They have a nicer sauce, excellent oysters (not as much crunch), but still nicely cooked. They use too much sauce (to me it was gushy) so get it on the side IMO.
I have only had each of these once so my experience is very limited, FWIW.
Glad you got to try the remoulade. I think that when I asked, at first she thought I was asking for lemonade.
I've been to Cajun Experience in Leesburg twice but that was only because I was working at the Potomac Celtic Festival which is no longer. We (nearly the whole sound and stage crew) had a room to ourselves, and when we told the owner where we were coming from, he sent one of the kitchen staff up with his bagpipes to serenade up. Just what we needed after a day of it, but it was a nice gesture.
They tried a Cajun Experience in DC, but apparently it didn't last long.
I went back yesterday and got an oyster po'boy and a Coca Cola in a glass bottle made with cane sugar. The lady was very sweet and we chatted about Coke and glass bottles until my po'boy was ready. They forgot the remoulade sauce but broke open a bottle for me to use.
That was a very, very good sandwich!
The oysters were very fresh, plump and fried just right. The bread is good, the condiments crisp.
Man, that is simply delicious! I had part of the po'boy with mayo and the rest with a tiny amount of mayo and the remoulade sauce and the remoulade really enhanced the flavor. I have only had 3 or 4 po'boys in New Orleans over the years, so I am no expert, but this compares pretty well to what I had in NO. It isn't quite as good, but it is very close. This place is well worth trying.