Sunday, October 3, 2010

Searching Hard in the Big Easy

The Gumbo Shop
630 St. Peter St.
New Orleans, LA
Visited August 22, 2010

Beer selection: Turbodog, baby!

Food: Bland, touristy Creole food.

For a city and state so famous for good food, it is surprisingly hard to find a great meal in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

Nope. The fact is, the French Quarter is all about drinking, not eating.

I’ve been coming to New Orleans since my first Mardi Gras trip in high school (that was a long time ago). Business trips, basketball tournaments and bachelor parties.

The Big Easy is always good for a good time. And no trip to the Crescent City is complete without a stroll through the Quarter. Just don’t do it hungry.

I mean, if Suit757 can’t find a good place to eat, you know the pickins are slim.

Oh sure, Felix and Acme are always good for sliding down a few Louisiana raw oysters. And the Central Grocery is fine if you want a muffuletta to go. And of course the Café du Monde is justifiably famous for their powdered sugar beignets. And who hasn’t stood in line at 3am at that infamous Bourbon Street Krystal on the stumble back to the hotel?

But a mouth tingling, destination dining spot to indulge in everything that makes Louisiana food famous?

New Orleans has plenty of those. They just aren’t in the touristy Vieux Carre.

Trust me, I’ve looked.

Unfortunately, after checking out The Gumbo Shop on Sunday night, I’m still looking.

The best thing about this little tourist spot around the corner from Jackson Square is they have Abita Turbodog on draft, one of my favorite beers in America.

Almost every restaurant in the state serves Abita Amber, a rather bland easy drinking offering by the Louisiana microbrewery up in Abita Springs.

But real men drink Turbodog.

I mean, it just sounds manly.

And looks it too. Black as Louisiana swamp water, Turbodog tastes as heavy as it looks. A dark, powerful, full-flavored beer that leaves a sweet aftertaste.

What I like about Abita beers is they don’t categorize their brews. They don’t call Abita Turbodog a stout or a porter or a triple bock.

It’s just…


One of a kind.

Unfortunately, the Gumbo Shop serves it in tiny 12 oz. glasses for way too much money.

But then again, I was here to eat. The “Huge Ass” 32oz traveler could wait for Bourbon Street. Now that’s what I call desert!

There wasn’t much indecision about what to order. When the joint is called “The Gumbo Shop”, well, you order gumbo.

Imagine my disappointment when the namesake trademark dish came out of the kitchen barely above room temperature. And the only thing scarcer than the crab and shrimp was the spice.

Bland, lukewarm tourist gumbo. That’s the gumbo served at The Gumbo Shop.

The jambalaya I ordered on the side was a little better. At least it had been heated at some point in its existence. And the sausage and chicken were more generously applied than the gumbo’s crab and shrimp.

I also sampled the red beans and rice with sausage, which was okay, but again, a little bland.

Of course I knew what my problem was.

I had just spent the prior 48 hours eating my way across the bayous and prairies of Louisiana Cajun country, where real Cajun food comes from, enjoying some of the most spectacular meals of my life.

I was spoiled. Spoiled rotten.

It would have been like seeing Hank Williams, III open for Brittney Spears. Even if she got naked, I’d be disappointed.

A touristy joint in the French Quarter is just going to be a let down after Café Des Amis, D.I.’s and Prejean’s.

So, 32 oz. Turbodog in hand, my search for an exciting French Quarter meal continues. Bummer. Guess I’ll just have to keep coming back.

Rating: Would Wear The Shirt If They Paid Me.
Gumbo Shop on Urbanspoon

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