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Posts Tagged ‘Creole Kitchen’

Creole Kitchen 2.0 (Dine in Seating)

Posted by cmh gourmand on December 3, 2017

It was a long time coming and a long time in getting around to writing about it, but something big happened in late 2016. Creole Kitchen expanded to offer dine in seating. That might not seem like a big deal but if you read my original post from 2013 you might be inclined to agree with me. If you need a bit of icing on that cake of convincing, then try a serving of -> this.

We don’t have many creole options in Columbus. My first introduction was Harold’s Cajun Glory Cafe in the 1990’s which closed many years ago. After several years of Cajun purgatory I stumbled upon Creole Kitchen. As a largely carry-out operation in a lightly traveled part of the central city, Creole Kitchen stayed off most culinary radars. That was OK in my blog/book, I was happy to keep it to myself and minimize my wait time in line. When I spied the sign in 2013 indicating a dining room would be opening soon, I knew it would be a game changer for Chef Butcher and his kitchen. But 2014 and 2015 came and went. At the beginning of 2016, I was still cautiously optimistic. Towards the end of the year, the good news came to me the space was finally open. Nearly one year later, I was able to finally have the full Creole Kitchen experience. And just to be safe, I made sure to try it out twice before writing about the experience.

The food remains the same. The advantage of the new space is seating. This means more chairs, but more importantly, the right type access for those that would not seek out food in a styrofoam container. The carry out side of the business remains business as usual, the space is unchanged. A year later, at least for the lunch crowd, I think the community us still getting accustomed to an eat in option. The space is simple, nice but not fancy. The dining room is open with tables spread out instead of crammed in to maximize profit. There is a relaxed atmosphere throughout that is mirrored by staff. There are no “faux” creole, Cajun, etc., knick knacks mounted on the wall. In lieu of something not connected to the heritage of the place there is artwork reflecting the community and the musical history of the neighborhood.

One change in service with the restaurant, when asked about the level of heat for each dish the scale is presented as 1 to 5. Five is hot, but at Creole Kitchen heat is about flavor not how many taste buds can be burned out from heat.

The is only one significant difference between the carry out and the dine in experience, how the food is presented. In some instances, it is downright pretty. Another difference, that depends on your disposition and that of your fellow diners is that you now have a chance to talk to someone else about what you are going to have or what you are having. In my two visits to the new space, I have had the pleasure to share conversations about what I like and what I want to try next with those around me.

I’ll share some of my meals below.

I’m not going to go into detail about the food, the photos speak for themselves (and my old blog posts) but I am going to offer a few suggestions for dining in. First, whatever, you order, make sure to get a side of macaroni and cheese. It is the perfect starch to pair with anything on your plate. I’d also suggest a side of bread. This is used to soak in any small amount of sauce that does not cling to your meal. An order of bread ensures nothing is wasted or left behind. Another thing you can do in the restaurant side of Creole Kitchen…is tip. Tip big because the servers waited a long time for a chance to serve you.

Creole Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Quickbyte: Creole Kitchen – Beignets

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 24, 2013

beinets

Pronunciation is not a strength of mine. This weakness is also creates an area of annoyance. I do alright with the English language and even better with “American”. But French and other languages I have never had any education in are a bit intimidating. Not because I am afraid to try but because I dread the smugness of people who are not content to correct like a coach but prefer to highlight the error like a superior. I respect the culinary gifts the French have given us but I dread their romance language and it’s effect on my Anglo-Saxon Tongue. When given an opportunity to use a term, I freeze, think of the two ways the term might be pronounced and pick the wrong one every time.

Such is the case for those little fried balls of dough with the French name from New Orleans that those that are better than I would pronounce Beignets. Some might offer the substitute phraseology of donut instead but the silent rage that would produce in the Dining Duder would not be worth the deferred embarrassment of using an alternate term.

That was the wind-up, here is the tip. There may be a handful of places in town that do beignets. The one I know and go to is Creole Kitchen. A mere $3 gets you a styrofoam clamshell full of these great balls of desire with a side cup of powdered sugar. My advice is eat them instantly in your car while they are steaming hot and the heat is still high enough to melt the sugar into the dough. Simple, good and cheap – hard to beat.

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Creole Kitchen: An A for Authentic

Posted by cmh gourmand on March 21, 2013

A fortunate circumstance of my paid profession, is my proximity to Creole Kitchen. As much as I drool when hearing the mention of Chef Butcher’s Beignets, Étouffée, or other goodness, the hours and location on Mt. Vernon Ave., was just not convenient to my day-to-day travels in my previous work life. Now, I am a short five-minute drive away. This winter I have been getting lunch to go about once per week. I used the first three months of 2013 to study Creole Kitchen. These are my observations.

Let’s start with the location. As mentioned, it is off the beaten path. It my be mildly inconvenient to many food enthusiast’s outside of the neighborhood. The place is easy to miss buried in a newer strip mall in an old neighborhood. That is no problem for Chef Butcher, he has no problem getting customers through the door. He chose the location and the neighborhood to make a commitment to the community. Much like Franklinton, the King Lincoln District has been “up and coming” for a long time. Unfortunately the upward slope of that bell curve has been pretty flat, but Chef Butcher is a man of patience.

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Now a segue at the pedigree of the place. Chef Butcher was born in Louisiana. He had has cooked and “chefed” extensively in many places. He had a much written about run at Michael Oliver’s in the 1990’s getting some press and attention as one of the few culinarians in Central Ohio that could do Cajun and creole right. Even though Chef Butcher is advanced in years, he ability to move a line has not slackened after years of blackening.

The place is small, simple and spartan. There is standing room for carry out orders. While there is 2 to 3 small two top tables, unless it is very slow and not crowded, you won’t find anyone eating at them. For those that know to ask and visit at the right time and crowd volume, there is a “Chef’s Table” back in the kitchen area. A few select people (I did it once) can eat at a beaten wooden table that seats 2-4 depending on the collective girths of the party. The kitchen crew includes a family member or two and the service counter is always efficient and often friendly if it is not too busy.

Here is an inside tip. Call your order in. The phone will often get picked up. If it is busy, it may ring forever or you might get placed on hold and forgotten about. This is not a negative reflection on the staff, there are just so many orders one can take and actually be able to fill them. If you do happen to walk in and place a “live” order don’t fret, you will still be served. If orders are backed up and you have time to kill, might I suggest driving to the Angry Baker on Oak Street to get a dessert to go. The round trip to and from Angry Baker to Creole Kitchen, with a few moments to make a selection, can be done in as few of 19 minutes. There is one advantage of just dropping in to place your order. There are always five to six really good daily specials (see some examples below) like a meatloaf sandwich.

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Now for the food. For whatever reason, the offerings at Creole Kitchen don’t photograph very well, so there will be little food porn. Take a moment to study the menu below and I’ll elaborate on some of the item you may want to try in a bit.

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Everything I have sampled is great. It tastes of true Louisiana roux. On may dishes you will be given an opportunity to choose how spicy you would like it on a scale of 1-10. The scale is more spice than heat, but a 10 will not sear your tongue, but it will tame and clear your sinuses in quick order. My favorites include the Mac and Cheese, Crawfish Étouffée,, Chicken Andouille sausage Jambalaya, the french fries and a simple Po’ Boy. I have not had an opportunity to try breakfast. I have heard it is great and often crowded so that being the case I’ll leave that breakfast to Nick.

The Mac&Cheese is simple, plain pasta with a think but saucy mix of cheese. It often serves as a buffer to the heat of another dish. It will remind you of the best diner or cafeteria Mac&Cheese from your formative years. Sadly, as simple as this dish is, and as much as it is a staple of The US of A, I rarely find one I like.

What is it about the fries that makes them so good? They still have the skins on them. They are like fair fries but a bit denser and yet somehow soggier at the same time. The fries also serve as a heat buffer when needed. If you look in the bottom of our carry out bag, you will always see packets of hot sauce to douse your fries in, in case you feel you need the kick.

What makes Crawfish Etouffee and the other dishes so good? I’m not sure. It is in the sauce and the simplicity of the ingredients themselves. The whole is always greater than the parts at Creole Kitchen.

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The Po’Boys are make better by their bulk – very large sandwiches for sure, but the clincher is the bread. It is toasted, lightly buttered and the slight crunch of the bread adds to the complete Po’ Boy experience and also keeps the sandwich from collapsing from the slightly wet fried proteins inside. I only have one bone to pick with the sandwiches. The Muffuletta on the menu does not meet my definition of the sandwich or my other eating experiences with them elsewhere. But, I’m not from Louisiana and Chef Butcher can run circles around me in any kitchen, school me up on a thing or three and probably whup my ass good too.

Here are a few more tidbit’s on the place. They make their own potato chips, served in a brown paper bag. These are a great choice to munch on if you think you will be waiting on your order for a while. You can also join the Creole Kitchen text club for a free bag of chips with your order. I will admit that I joined the club while I was placing my order the first time I tried the chips. It may not be a best practice but I was hungry and wanted to test the technology. The restaurant sells their own spice mix but I have yet to try it. If you do, let me know. They also support other local businesses including a cookie maker and a sweet tea company.

There is a lot more to like about Creole Kitchen but that should be enough to get you through the door. Creole Kitchen is too good and too cool to be forgotten but unless it is right in front of you, it can be an easy place to let fall by the wayside on your dining to do list.

Creole Kitchen
1052-B Mt. Vernon Plaza
King Lincoln District (The KLD)
614.372.3333 (FEED)
http://creolekitchen.biz

Creole Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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