Chez Soul, Fairfield
I've now made about 5 trips to Chez Soul over the past 2 months and have really enjoyed it (via a Napa chef's high recommendation.) This is a family owned place in downtown Fairfield, off the beaten path I know. First off I've not had better gumbo in the Bay Area, which is hard to find. Dark roux, chicken, crab, shrimp and andouille. Just the right amount of rice. Was in New Orleans a month ago and it stacks up to some of the best I had there.
Jambalaya, traditional, also excellent. Crawfish Etouffee is perhaps the best prepared dish I've had. Thick, roux based gravy. Farmed crawfish I assume since the season is mainly spring, but still great. Shrimp Creole should be more tomato based, less roux based and thinner, but came off a lot like etouffee.
All sides I've had have been excellent (potato salad, greens, black eyed peas, corn bread.) Mac and cheese not quite equal. I've not tried anything fried or BBQ. Their friend chicken and catfish plates are impressive and I spotted an oxtail plate that looked great.
Family service, go out of their way. Decadent dessert case which I've not partaken. Again, a type and region of food which is difficult to find here and you truly taste the love.
Thanks for putting Fairfield back on the chow-dar, Dan. Sounds like a find, and particularly timely in the midst of discussions about palate ennui. We could all use an extra helping of this kind of soul.
Fortunately I have to drive to Sac. often so it's easy for me to make the stop, and this is in the heart of downtown Fairfield.
The Jambalaya and Etouffee are mostly always on the menu. The only reason the Etouffee may not be is whether crawfish were available. If you haven't had the gumbo I suggest you give it a try. They offer by the cup as well.
re: Dan Wodarcyk
Husband works in Fairfield, we live in Vacaville, and Wed is take out night. So far I've made my request, but last Wed husband was disturbed to find the waitress cooking in the kitchen and didn't think his fried chicken was as good. Still; the competition isn't fierce, so I'm hoping he will give it another go.
I SO want this for them!
And there seems to be a new BBQ in Vacaville. Don't think it's "Magnificent" on Peabody, which could be good, but I haven't tried it yet.
I heard the new place was in the strip mall with Kinkos.
I think it's Dickey's
"Hand Me a Rib", which I also wanted to survive, now seems to be only catering.
I want all of these places to make it. Sigh.
So we tried all three.
Plus cornbread, which husband likes, and hush puppies, which I like.
Jambalaya is our favorite.
Crab in the shell in the gumbo was too much work for husband; I thought it was alright.
I thought the roux in the etouffee was too thick and might have taken away from the flavor, but the flavor was good.
We had take out, and reheating might help.
Hope I got that right.
I'm not sure I understand, but I think Dungeness. It was a bit of the body, and a part of a leg. It didn't take ME long to get the meat out....and of course husband suddenly appeared at my elbow...but he doesn't like using his hands to eat.
BTW, I lived 7 years in DC and ate Blue Crab by the grocery sack.
glad to hear they're improved. tried them 4 years ago.
mac & cheese, potato salad just average
the meat on the ribs was tasteless, sauce was yummy.
No beer. Oh well. At least the place was air-conditioned.
Crawfish étouffée ($16 with a choice of hushpuppies or cornbread) was very good. Hushpuppies were great, very well seasoned, crunchy.
Tasted the gumbo ($16 with the same choice), it was as good as I've had in a restaurant, earthy, complex. Dungeness was pick-it-yourself.
Side of a fried chicken thigh ($2.75) was a great value. Very light breading, crunchy, good integrity, juicy. As good or better than pretty much any fried chicken I've had except Miss Ollie's.
Too full for dessert.