The Jambalaya Shoppe–Gonzales, LA

One of my favorite things while traveling is hunting for great food. A chef friend told me Gonzales is jambalaya country and if you believe what the water tower says, Gonzales is the jambalaya capital of the world. I’m happy to announce that I have found some delicious jambalaya at The Jambalaya Shoppe.

My research revealed this little gem and I was pretty certain that I was in for a treat as these restaurants are popping up around south Louisiana. We opted for a bucket of chicken and sausage jambalaya and since the weather was nice, we ate at one of the two picnic tables in the parking lot.

I do have to admit that this is the second restaurant in the region I have eaten at over the past couple of days that wasn’t spicy. I love spicy food, and we don’t have many options for fire eating in Shreveport. I’ve always been told I have to go south for sinteringly hot cuisine–maybe this is reserved for New Orleans. Regardless, I happened upon a gem.

The original location is not much more than a shack–typically a good sign when you are searching for deliciousness. That standard holds true in this case. The sausage was delightfully scabbed, and the morsels of chicken were plenty. And the flavor profile? It held a subtle complexity that I will explore again this evening. I was ravenous at lunch and didn’t thoughtfully enjoy this delight, but I’ll savor it tonight.

My only complaint is that it needed heat. Naturally, I added Tabasco, but I would have appreciated more heat. Make that two complaints–we do not have a Jambalaya Shoppe here in Shreveport. I hope my second complaint is properly addressed soon.

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BBQ Chronicles:  Ten 50 BBQ–Plano, TX

I found myself in Dallas yesterday car shopping with my we teen year old.  She and I share a love for good barbecue and when I told her were going to Dallas, she said, “For barbecue?”  I said, “Yes, and we have to shop for a car.”  I could have told her we were going to do anything I wanted, just so long as barbecue was in the plan.

I opened up my trusty Yelp app and saw that 372 people reviewed this new addition to the barbecue world (the cashier told me that they opened a year and a half ago), and I figured that 372 people can’t be wrong about Ten 50 BBQ.  Wrong they weren’t, but they weren’t quite right, either.

I made sure to order the fatty brisket, untrimmed.  I also ordered the sausage, ribs, and turkey.  I rarely order turkey, but we had my daughter’s friend with us and I think she can get a bit finicky.  I also had to sample their pinto beans and potato salad.

The meats were all prepared perfectly.  The brisket was incredibly tender and the fat was rendered so perfectly that it dissolved the moment it hit your tongue.  The St. Louis spare ribs had a beautiful smoke ring and pulled cleanly from the bone as you hit into them.  The sausage with its vivid black pepper note was incredibly juicy.  The turkey was decent and was moderately juicy.  If you want smoked turkey that’ll impress, you want to take a jaunt to Jefferson, TX for Joseph’s Riverport Barbecue.  I haven’t found any smoked turkey that compares. 

    
    
    
 As I said, all of the meats were beautiful and prepared perfectly.  It’s just that someone forgot to add flavor.  (The sausage was the exception.  I doubt the sausage is made in house.  It reminded me of the sausage I had at Pecan Lodge.  The brisket, though it looks as if it tastes otherworldly, is good but looks are deceptive.  The crust looked great but had little flavor.  I’d say the run needs work.  Same for the ribs.  They look great, but I only tasted an occasional hint of sweetness.  Overall, they were pretty bland.

As for the sides, the beans had a nice kick, but they weren’t terrific.  As a matter of fact, they were so underwhelming, I’ll pass on them my next visit.  I love beans, but they lacked something.  The jalapeños were nice, but they weren’t a patch compared to the jalapeño beans at Hutchins BBQ in McKinney, TX.  The potato salad was another story.  It arrested my attention so much so that it completely eclipsed the meat.  It had just the right tanginess–it was perfect with the red potatoes and green onions.  I should have gotten two servings.

As I looked at the clientele, my overall impression was that this restaurant was geared for old people and tourists.  It seems that flavored are toned down for both types of customer.  I had no idea how right I was until I read TMBBQ‘s review.  Apparently, the restauranteur’s claim to fame is his creation of the Chili’s chain and that the plan is to do the same thing with brisket.  I’m sure locations will spread like wildfire with its average flavors that are sure not to offend the palate of the uninitiated.

Jane’s Seafood–New Iberia, LA

Being in south Louisiana I was really expecting some fiery crawfish with out of this world flavor.I was hoping that Jane’s Seafood was going to scratch that itch.

I ordered the extra spicy mudbugs to be sure. Sadly, they were only medium in heat intensity (they made my lips cherry red and I drank a whole pitcher of iced tea, but the residual flavor was lacking.

The tail meat was pretty bland by itself. I don’t know if they aren’t soaking them, but that is my impression. Further, the potatoes and corn were not cooked in the boil–another hit at blandness. I also was expecting to see boiled onions, garlic, lemon, and maybe even orange, but I think they just use standard crab boil.

Don’t get me wrong, they were tasty, but I expected much more my first time eating crawfish so far south. This place is popular and they have good food, but the crawfish ain’t a patch to Crawfish Hole #2 in Dixie Inn, LA.  Nevertheless, it was a good day as I had a pile of crawfish.


 

BBQ Chronicles:  Williams BBQ–Greenwood, LA

I was passing through town when I saw Williams BBQ. I immediately pulled over to see if I couldn’t find any information online. Nothing. I decided to brave this intrepid establishment as I have a hard time passing up BBQ. I wish I had.

The owner promptly took my order–a half pound of sliced brisket and a half pound of sausage. As I was joyriding, I felt it best to eat on the road. First, the sausage. Though it was not bad, it was nothing special. Nothing but Eckrich or something similar. It was edible, though. After three or four bites, I was done with this mediocre offering. At least I was able to take it home to share.
As for the brisket, no such luck. 

Never serve up Eckrich if you want to impress.
 The nauseatingly gray meat made me think that this was the stuff during wartime–a time where food is so scarce that people resort to eating their boots. At this moment I wish I was eating pilfered boot leather.

Though the meat was sliced paper thin, it still was as tough as the aforementioned footwear. The fat wasn’t rendered which left an uneasy feeling not unlike the the unveiling of Ed Gein’s horrorfest. 

Never before have I encountered the stench of death on a plate.
 As I brought up a piece to my mouth, my nose caught something out of place. I couldn’t quite place the subtle sick fragrance of decomposition. When I took my first (and only) bite, I knew immediately the nightmare that enveloped my taste buds–it was sour. It wasn’t full-on maggoty meat, but was a subdued flavor of rottenness. I spit it out of the truck and this little delight found its way into the trash can.

The owner said they have been open for three weeks. I predict they will be out of business by Thursday.

If you want to read about real mediocre barbecue that won’t put you in the morgue, try this, this, and this.