Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nawlins Creole Café

My sister lives in Avon and recently tried this place and emailed me right away about it knowing that hubby is always looking for good Cajun/Creole food and that I am always looking for good food in general.  She qualified it with the fact that she had never eaten a po boy in New Orleans so she couldn’t verify its authenticity, but she really liked it and had talked to the owners who are from New Orleans and fly in several ingredients direct from there. I have had a couple of readers recommend it too, so I knew it was time to get over there.
It is quite a drive for us, but we met them over there the other day for lunch.  The place was pretty busy for a midweek lunch, so service started out a touch slow, but once we got the order in, things moved a long a little quicker.  The lady who runs it with her son, was a maybe a little gruff in the start, and it is the kind of place where you may just want to wait to speak until spoken to—she has a regimented way of taking orders, and you are probably better off letting her lead you through the process (hubby and I commented that it reminded us a little of the Soup Nazi episode on Seinfeld).  But by the end of the meal, after chatting with hubby about New Orleans, she warmed up to us (and her son is exceptionally friendly).
I ordered the sampler plate which included jambalaya, red beans and rice, and shrimp or crawfish étouffée or gumbo and some toasted French bread.  You also get two sides. I had the crawfish étouffée and I loved it—it was rich, but had amazing depth of flavor. It tasted like it was made from very well-tended roux.  There wasn’t a ton of crawfish in there, but enough to get a piece with most bites.  The jambalaya was also nice—a very spicy rice dish with mainly pieces of sausage and maybe a couple bites with shrimp as well.  The red beans and rice were nice—not all mushed together.  You could separate the beans from the rice if you wanted to and had a very nicely seasoned flavor. Spicy, but not overwhelming at all (not nearly as spicy as the jambalaya).  Hubby really liked them and ended up eating probably half of mine.  One of my sides was potato salad and I loved  it as well.  It is almost like mashed potatoes seasoned with celery and egg and chilled.  It was also a great counterbalance to all the hot and spicy dishes I was eating.  I would certainly always get some of the potato salad as a nice variation in taste and texture to the other things.  The macaroni and cheese was great too (my other side), and clearly homemade. Creamy, but not bright orange (which I like) and seasoned with pepper.  It had maybe a tiny smoky flavor.  Really good.  Again, hubby kept going after it out of my bowl.  I enjoyed everything I had, but I am pretty sure next time I go, unless there is some special that sounds good, I will be ordering a full order of the étouffée (maybe I will try the shrimp next time) with my side of potato salad and mac and cheese.  Wow, I want it right now just talking about it.
Hubby had the shrimp po boy.  He was very happy with it as well.  I am pretty sure they told us that they actually fly the bread in from New Orleans and apparently, it is the right kind of bread (according to hubby).  It is dressed with mayo and shredded lettuce, tomato and pickles.  The shrimp were seasoned and fried and were really tasty.  Hubby added hot sauce (Louisiana of course) and was amazed at how close his sandwich tasted to what he remembered from his college days at Tulane.  The only thing he wished is that there was more shrimp because there was so much bread, it was a little out of proportion to the shrimp.  He decided next time he would ask for a double order of shrimp and see if they would just do that and charge him accordingly.  It was a tasty sandwich.  You can get fries on the side for an upcharge.  He had the Cajun fries which were pretty tasty heavily seasoned fries.
I also had a fried oyster that came on my brother-in-law’s fried seafood platter (oysters, shrimp and catfish).  It was breaded and seasoned and fried and wasn’t bad, but I think I like the fried shrimp better.  The portions are quite generous though, especially with all the sides you get.
The restaurant does not have a liquor license (quite hard to come by in Hendricks county apparently), but they are allowed to pay for one on a day by day basis (which makes no sense to me, but that’s just my opinion) and they usually buy one on Fridays and Saturdays and offer beer and wine as well.  They also regularly offer special things on the weekend and have fairly regular shrimp boils (the next one is this Saturday, October 23rd I believe). 
This place is a great example of a restaurant where a family has great recipes to share and seems to care about what they are doing.  This is also another place I wish was closer to my house.  Hubby declared it to be the best New Orleans style food he has had outside of New Orleans.   I can’t speak to that, but I know what I like, and I liked this place.
Nawlins Creole Café
1118 North State Road 267
Avon, IN  46123
317/272-1077

N'awlins Creole Cafe on Urbanspoon

13 comments:

  1. You should try Cajun's Cafe (also in Avon, but on 36). I've heard N'awlins comes down and buys bread from them... I'm impartial to Cajun's Cafe ;)

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  2. This is just down the road from me, so will have to try sometime. I want to like Cajun food, but Zydeco's in Mooresville - while cool and funky - just didn't do it for me. Cajun's Cafe was tasty, but too expensive.

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  3. It was good, but the service is questionable. We had a similar story where the owner seemed angry with everyone, but then she took our order and warmed up to us. All the wait staff seemed to be running around like a chicken with its head cut off. We thought maybe it was because it was newly opened, but it had been open for 6 months.

    However, the food was outstanding and nearly made up for our nearly hour and half wait to be seated and then another 30 minutes to get our food. They served the last bowl of mac n cheese right before our order, too. It looked good... and made my fiance and I sad when we heard the couple next to us exclaim how wonderful it tasted! The owner heard us and said "well that means you have to come back in and try it next time!"

    We haven't been back due to service, but we've thought about getting carry-out.

    By the way, we felt that Cajun's Cafe wasn't as good as Nawlins Creole Cafe.

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  4. Miss Chelsea and Becky: Will have to add Cajun's to the list and do a comparison (or maybe send my sister on a recon mission first). :)

    Jonathan: There was a period when this place had a new groupon and apparently (according to my sister) for a little while after, they were pretty overwhelmed with business. Maybe that is when you were there? Sorry you didn't get to eat the mac and cheese. It was good. But carry out is a good idea. If I lived nearby, I have a feeling it would be a frequent occurrence in our house!

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  5. You should try Papa Roux if you haven't already. GREAT Po Boys and reasonably priced. They are open for lunch most days (I think everyday but Sat/Sun) and dinner on Thurs & Fri nights.

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  6. Heather, thanks. I have actually reviewed Papa Roux here: http://indyrestaurantscene.blogspot.com/2009/12/papa-roux.html

    It is very tasty!

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  7. I've been to both restaurants and they are both good. I'm a little partial to Nawlins..little cheaper and they have that awesome mac and cheese and dump cake (don't know if it's cajun but YUM). Cajuns has a crawfish poboy that is really good though-I didn't see it at Nawlins.
    As for the owner at Nawlins, I kind of like her attitude. Make the place feel more authentic somehow, but I can understand how someone might be offended. The son there more than makes up for it with his friendliness. Maybe he should spend more time up front but I think he is the Chef.

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  8. Thanks for this review! Since our trip to New Orleans earlier this year, my hubby and I have been DYING for some good New Orleans food! We've even thought about flying in some crawfish and staging our own boil! I think we'll just head to Avon instead - this looks yummy! (And the bread does make a huge difference. I can't explain it! If your hubby says it's the right stuff, I'm excited to try it!)

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  9. Katie- Would love to know what you guys think of Nawlins if you try it...

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  10. The Huz and I ate here tonight and had mixed feelings about it. He got exactly what your husband got and felt the same way -- "Needs 1/3 more shrimp," he said. They offered a limited menu (po' boys + fried items, no sides or desserts) but had live music & a shrimp boil going on. I had the shrimp boil and thought it was so-so...but some of that could be my own hang-up about having to clean seafood after it's cooked. (I don't eat Maryland crabs for the same reason.) Our waitress was fairly new and the service was questionable: entrees came out at separate times, water wasn't refilled in a timely fashion, and I was never brought the hush puppy I asked to try (she said, "I'll ask," but then never got back to me). Wanted to really enjoy it but not sure if we'll try again.

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  11. Oh man! Nothing like N'awlins food! I went to Angeline's last week cause I was missing it desperately. This makes me HUNGRY!

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  12. Jessica in NoblesvilleNovember 5, 2010 at 10:09 PM

    My husband and I took the kids here tonight, since we happened to be near Avon and I remember your favorable review. It was almost full at dinner time, and I didn't see more than 3 people working there, including the owner, a young waitress, and another woman, presumably the cook. Service was very slow, almost painfully so. However, all the food was quite tasty. The gumbo was nice and medium spicy (I ordered a spice level of 5 on their rating of 1-10). The breading on the catfish and shrimp was crispy and kept the seafood inside nice and moist. Just as you promised, the etoufee was the star of the show, but the kids also loved the mac and cheese.

    Unfortunately, they were out of oysters and crab. I would've loved to try the fried oysters and the crab and corn chowder.

    I'd go again, as long as I wasn't in a hurry, or could order takeout.

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  13. Jessica-

    Yes, unfortunately speed of service is probably the weakest aspects of this restaurant. If I lived nearby, I would certainly be getting a lot of take out though!

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