|Bad Bart's Black Jambalaya|
When confronted with such an inquiry from an out of town guest, many people would probably say, "You know, jambalaya is one of the dishes that we always make at home, so I never to think to look for it, much less order it, at a restaurant. Plus jambalaya is a cajun dish, and New Orleans is all about creole." While I accept that most locals prefer their jambalaya homemade and that the dish is not indigenous to Southeast Louisiana, I refuse to believe that there is not a respectable restaurant version to be found in the city.
One of the best that I have tasted in recent times is Bad Bart's Black Jambalaya from Crescent Pie & Sausage Co. This jambalaya gets its brown color not from tomato but from the aromatic spices and black eyes peas, whose inclusion I had never before seen. This is not a sticky jambalaya (which I also enjoy); the short grain rice retains their individuality. There is a decent - but not disproportionately large - amount of chicken, pork and sausage, all thin slices as opposed to massive hunks. The black eyed peas sometimes cannot be seen, but their texture is noticeable in the rice in that the starch from the beans seems to envelope each grain of rice, adding meatiness without heft. The flavor is neither overpoweringly spicy nor do you immediately reach for a bottle of Crystal after the first bite.
I happen to have sampled some more of Bad Bart's Black yesterday before the game at the Crescent Pie and NOLA Brewing tailgate at the corner of Girod and Loyola. This bowl (pictured above) was not as dark in color and the flavors not as bold as usual, but it was still delicious.
So while we are on the subject, where else can one find a great bowl of jambalaya? K-Paul's is an obvious choice, but I can't say that I have had tried Chef Paul's version in more than 10 years. Is the Jambalaya Supreme at Coop's Place worth waiting in line for? (Ian McNulty seemed to think so, back in 2003.) Does the jambalaya meat pie at Cochon count?
Let us know about your favorite jambalaya in today's comments.