Cajun, Creole and Southern food

February 13, 2010 6:34:36 AM PST
The Big Easy restaurant opens in Hyde Park- just in time for Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras celebrations are in full swing leading up to the big party Fat Tuesday. Several restaurants in the area will have special menus over the next few days, including Heaven on Seven on the North Side and Lagniappe on the South Side. But there's another, new option for Cajun and Creole fare in Hyde Park.

This time of year, there is no shame in ordering cornmeal-crusted fried green tomatoes or thick gumbo. But if you live in Hyde Park, your Crescent City cravings are now available year round at The Big Easy, which combines Cajun, Creole and Southern styles all on one menu.

"When I put the menu together I kind of wanted to look at the demands and needs of the market in this area. Hyde Park is a very diverse and densely populated community, so I kinda wanted to touch on a few different aspects," said Jennifer Gavin, former chef, The Big Easy.

Shrimp and grits are more Low Country than New Orleans, but then Gavin fires up a mean jambalaya, which she stuffs into thinly-pounded and breaded chicken breast.

"Ya know, with the traditional jambalaya it's kind of like a rice pilaf-type dish. So I kind of wanted to put a different kick and spin to it," said Gavin.

Crawfish etoufee is indeed a stew of spices and crawfish tails, again, nicely seasoned, but not too hot, while a catfish po' boy is massive; a crisp cornmeal crust gives it proper bite and it's sandwiched between homemade loaves that aren't necessarily authentic New Orleans, but at least they're homemade. Desserts are also non-traditional, including chocolate cappuccino mousse pie and another departure from the norm: peach cobbler brownies. Gavin stresses the fact everything is homemade.

"Everything is made here, baked here, made from scratch. Everything from our bagels to our beignets, even the bread for our po' boy sandwiches; it's all made in house," said Gavin.

Now the Big Easy is gonna try to make it really easy to have a good time on Fat Tuesday, the 16th with half-price appetizers that day, all the entrees are going to be $10.95 and free dessert samples. If that's not laissez les bons temps rouler I don't know what is; (let the good times roll by the way).

The Big Easy
1660 E. 55th St.