I came to New Orleans for the food and left very satisfied.
We’d got a great deal for a hotel on Priceline, but unusually for them it was a pretty dire place. The front looked quite smart, but behind the ornate façade was an ancient open-corridor motel room. Our room was between the highway and the kids pool, so very noisy.
To get some peace we went for a walk and found the highlight of our trip to New Orleans.
Chef Ron’s Gumbo Stop is only a few meters from the hotel in Metairie, but a world away in terms of quality and friendliness.
Chef Ron was visible in the kitchen, whilst various friends and family members held court in the front of house. The menu is concise, but contained all the New Orleans dishes we’ve been waiting to try for years.
Shrimp po’boy is delicately battered prawns served in a surprisingly light baguette. Gumbo is a mixture of seafood, sausage, chicken and rice in a richly spicy broth. Even the house salad was exotic, containing green mango and banana peppers.
There was a small selection of desserts that were anything but small. A 6×6 inch cube of bread pudding looked to be enough for 4 people, although it was so good we finished it all.
The following day I’d looked up a bunch of restaurants on Urbanspoon, but had the nagging doubt in the back of my mind that they’d not be as good as Chef Ron’s. Thankfully we decided to forgo the ‘try new stuff’ travel mantra and walked happily back to the Gumbo Stop.
Chef Ron greeted us with a wave from the kitchen and we set about ordering the rest of the menu…
Boudin Balls – Boudin is a local mixture of pork and rice. Rolled into balls, breaded and fried I expected them to be heavy and greasy, but they broke apart with a gentle tap of a fork and were light and delicate.
Bayou Shrimp was delicious, but didn’t seem overly unique to New Orleans.
The follow-up, Crawfish Etoufee is far more unique. It’s crawfish in a white roux, served with rice. The dish is sweet, smokey and most importantly delicious, yet still easy to distinguish the individual flavours.
A completely unnecessary Jambalaya rounded off the meal.
Probably wondering why a table for two was ordering food for four, Chef Ron wandered round the busy tables, issuing friendly advice and asking for feedback and suggestions. Everyone was generous with their praise.
Tired from a brief chat we ordered a huge lump of chocolate cake to recover for the short walk back to the hotel.
Chef Ron’s Gumbo Stop, 2309 N Causeway Blvd, Metairie, LA 70001
Other New Orleans Restaurants
River Pond Seafood Inc
H was keen to eat as much crawfish as possible, so Chef Ron recommended River Pond Seafood as his preferred place. The menu was crawfish, crawfish or crawfish special. We chose crawfish. The crawfish are boiled in their secret mixture of spices then served very simply, which is fine as they’re delicious without any extra flavours. Crawfish.
This place was tricky to find as no-one had heard of it, but we persevered and the crawfish cakes alone made it worth the effort.
R & Os Lake town
The first night we visited was R & O’s in Lake Town. We had a few staples including Crawfish cakes, Roast Beef po’boy and a Muffaletta.
The Muffaletta is a famed New Orleans dish I was keen to try, but to be honest I was a bit underwhelmed. It’s focaccia bread containing mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham, and provolone with a marinated olive salad. To a European it’s a pretty standard Italian-style sandwich, just super-sized.
I heard about Cochon from an Anthony Bourdain The Layover episode. Cochon has two stores, a quick café and a fancier sit down restaurant. We opted for the full sit down experience. Being last minute walk-ins we got a seat at the bar, so got to watch the chefs at work over the flame grills.
Being famed for its pork butchery we ordered a selection of pork dishes. An amuse bouche of remarkably light pork crackling preceded the Boucherie starter. This was a taster plate of their best cold appetisers, including pates and head-cheese. Each bite was better than the last.
Mains were Ham hock served with grilled sprouts and their signature dish Cochon du lait, or suckling pig. Cochon was considerably pricier than the others listed here, but highly recommended.