Monday, April 1, 2013

Jezebels Bayou- A Taste of New Orleans

Someone suggested Jezebels Bayou for my 2013 "To Dine" Challenge--- Thank You! This New Orleans-inspired restaurant on Larchmere Boulevard is quickly become one of my new favorite spots.

My first trip there was actually through the CLE Dinner Club. We had our choice between a couple of dishes for each of the four courses, and I tried to stay true to the Cajun/Creole food that I'd experienced in New Orleans last March. I also wanted to sample dishes that can be found on Jezebels' regular menu. They had prepared a couple of special dishes for our group that night. I had the Gumbo Ya Ya (my favorite course of the night).
Jambalaya, another crowd favorite that I would certainly order again on my own.
Their New Orleans Barbeque Shrimp that is simmered in a silky brown Worcestershire-spiked, lemon butter sauce (not a full portion pictured below).
This was the dish that I was anticipating the most, after hearing rave reviews from others, but it ended up being my least favorite course of the night. The potatoes arrived lukewarm, and the shrimp sauce was only average in flavor. Luckily, this dish redeemed itself during our second visit. I think the kitchen just wasn't used to large parties like ours, and execution took a hit that night.

The CLE Dinner Club event ended on a high note. I selected the Bananas Foster dessert, and it was so delicious that I dug right in and didn't even snap a picture. As usual, it was another fun outing with this group, and I left with a great first impression of Jezebels. It left me wanting more, and I quickly made plans to return just two weeks later.

Our second visit was a little more "normal", and the food and service reflected that. We enjoyed another fabulous meal, full of flavors that brought me right back to New Orleans.

I wanted that Gumbo Ya Ya again, with a thick, dark roux served with chicken, sausage, and tasso ham $7.95.
Can you see the difference in texture and color from the first to the second? This perplexed me. Is every batch slightly different? This was also good, but I much preferred the gumbo that we had the first time.

I wanted to sample several things, so I did a little mixing and matching with some side dishes and appetizers as my meal. "R" and I shared an order of the Alligator Voodoo (get it blackened, not fried) with farm-raised Louisiana gator bites and a Jalapeno Remoulade Sauce ($9.95). Much like chicken in texture, it's nothing to be scared of. Overall, it was good but it didn't "wow" me.

I also ordered the Fried Green Tomatoes with a spicy Cajun sauce ($6.95).
The breading wasn't too heavy, and the tomatoes weren't overcooked. A little more sauce would have gone a long way, but overall I did like them a lot.

A side dish of Sauteed Spinach ($4.95) completed my meal. It was one of my favorite items, and I'd have a hard time not adding it to any future meal there!

"R" did order the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp from the main entrees section of the menu (a smaller portion is available as a starter). It was totally better than what we received at the dinner event, and this dish suddenly redeemed itself. I can see why it's become a fan favorite, but personally I want to try their Classic Cajun Etouffee or Po' Boy next time.

The portions are quite large for the price, the spice level has been perfect for my taste (and memory from true New Orleans fare), and I've been loving a glass of their sweet Pineapple wine. The service was fabulous both times, bringing the charm and attentiveness that marks a great dining experience. There are a couple of options for parking: valet in front of the restaurant (at least on the weekends), metered street parking, and a couple of small lots around there. This place is truly a gem, and we're already planning on bringing my parents there during their next trip to Cleveland.

Jezebels Bayou
12718 Larchmere Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44120
216-721-3877

Jezebels Bayou on Urbanspoon

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