Last Sunday evening, a friend and I were looking for a place to have a nice, but quick dinner. It had been a long (& ½) day traipsing around Brooklyn. I was hungry, was getting a bit cranky, I still had a few things to do, and I had to get up for work, somewhat early, the following day.
In Williamsburg, I couldn’t figure out where to go (yeah, I know there are a lot of places, but I just couldn’t decide, ok?). The one place I was looking at stopped serving dinner several months before, and I didn’t really want to walk all the way back to Bedford in the wind and sprinkles.
After going to a completely different area further south in Brooklyn, we decided on a small place I had wanted to try out for a few months called Restaurant New Orleans. Now, you do understand that what I was looking for was a quick, but deliciously comforting, bite to eat. Quick. Did I say quick? I apparently didn’t seem to make that clear enough. Remember, I was cranky, had stuff to do, and blah blah blah. Yeah, well somehow the universe was telling me to slow my cushion down, as I would come to realize yet three hours still into the dinner.
I am from Louisiana, and I am always leery about so-called “Louisiana” restaurants. I remember walking into a La. restaurant in Seattle several years ago, and imploring the waitress to tell me where the chef was from. After about ten minutes, she finally confessed that he was from Sweden. Yeah, I’ll pass. Not that he wouldn’t be a good chef. I just tend to be a bit biased when I could just as well cook it at home. “Why don’t I”, you ask? I occasionally do. I just like to get pampered with home cookin’ just like the next guy, okey dokey?
OK, Restaurant New Orleans is a fairly small space. It actually looks as if you just stepped into the salon of a New Orleans home (with scattered tables around, bien sûr). The seats have that tea-time feeling, and the waitress could be a friend’s Auntie. But, at that point, if she had said “one minute, I’ll bring you some water” one more time, I would have said adieu to my roots and gone across the street to grab a slice.
We finally had a chance to order, after we were only one of two tables left seated. Appetizers: Cup of Gumbo and Barbequed Chicken Skewers. Main Courses: Shrimp Etouffée (no crawfish available), Fried Catfish with Mac ‘n Cheese, and a side of Jambalaya (no greens available). Beverages: New Orleans Hurricanes. Did I mention that they don’t serve alcohol? Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never actually had a Hurricane with a good splash of rum thrown in there. Otherwise, it’s called Kool-Aid. Good and refreshing, just…well…you know…it was just a long day…
About 30 minutes later, the side dish of Jambalaya arrived. Hmmm…Yeah, that’s pretty authentic. Not exactly the order I would have brought it out in, but whatever, I’m hungry.
About 20 minutes later, “Did you want that gumbo as an appetizer?” “Yes, please.”
Another 20 minutes later, the gumbo arrives. “Um…and I was just wondering about the chicken.” “It’s coming right out.” Did it ever! A huge plate of sliced chicken breast smothered in barbeque sauce with an absolutely gorgeous swan-carved apple. Good, too much sauce for my taste, but good. The gumbo? Perfect gumbo flavor (this is not always easy to achieve) with a bit of okra and chicken.
They did bring us a couple of plates of nuked mini-croissants to nosh on in the meantime.
Then, since no one else was in the restaurant, they moved us to the quaint table next to the window, since it was a bit cozier. That was sweet.
Lo & behold the main courses arrive, brought out by Kathy, the owner/chef live and in the flesh. Did you know she also used to be a biologist, acts, sings, and is a wife and mother? Yes, ma’am/sir, she is!
A fellow Louisianian, she hails from Baton Rouge, but hasn’t been back in a few years. Claims everyone has forgotten about her. Now, I can’t believe that’s true, since she seems like an absolute sweetheart.
Did I complain about the incredible amount of time we waited for our food? Well, not directly to her. The friend I was with got the brunt of that. I couldn’t say anything about it to Kathy. She jokingly announced, “Welcome to Slow Café. You know you can order your food in advance. We make everything right on the spot, so it just takes a little longer. Now, did you want wine? I can run to the store next door and grab a bottle. You just tell me what you want.” We didn’t order the wine, but seriously…how could I argue with that type of service?
Next time, I just need to mind my manners, grab a slice or a curry when I’m in a hurry, and order in advance the next time I would like Kathy to prepare me a taste of home. I suggest you do the same.
Restaurant New Orleans
747 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217
“C” train to Lafayette or Clinton/Washington