new Things I Ate in Cambodia: Jacques-Imos: Big Ass Food in New Orleans

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Jacques-Imos: Big Ass Food in New Orleans

Jacques-Imos Cafe
8324 Oak Street
New Orleans, LA 70118

So I lived in New Orleans for two years and never ate at Jacques-Imos. As Jacques-Imos is one of New Orleans' new classic restaurants, it was a bit of a sin of omission. Beloved for its massive portions, funky interior, proximity to the Maple Leaf and eternally creative truck-bed outside table, it's in every guidebook and is beloved by both tourists and students alike. After all, Jacques-Imos is pretty much Tulane's campus go-to restaurant. End of the year club dinner? Jacques-Imos! Parents in town and want to eat something that ain't ramen? Jacques-Imos!

So how's the food? Pretty good. Pretty good and served in massive portions. Allow me to elaborate. My buddy Raj is leaving for school in the wilds of Ohio and invited a big gaggle of us out for dinner at J-Imos. We booked an outside table - it was a lovely May evening - ordered some champagne, and ordered an impressive array of stuff off the menu.

Which is a very long menu, featuring some classics - alligator cheesecake, fried chicken, the infamous carpet-bagger steak, etouffee, and so on - and an array of seasonal specials. All entrees come with a choice of two side dishes, which makes the rather steep entree prices a little easier to swallow. Those without massive appetites can take solace in the knowledge that there will be plenty left over.

Everything comes with these buttery corn-bread muffins, which are scandalously good. I know many college students who could happily subsist on these suckers.

I ordered the escargot with pasta, half out of a desire for snails (they're good) and half out of a desire to skeeze out my non-snail eating friends. Somewhat out of left-field snail presentation, though the pasta the snails were served in was quite pleasant, the snails being mostly a chewy sidenote. Personally, I think they're better off served in cute little ceramic containers with butter.

These beast is the eggplant Jacques-Imos - fried, covered in mushroom sauce, and served with oyster dressing (stuffing with oysters in it for you Yankee savages). It's pretty good, albeit for a bite or two. More then that and you start to feel the heart-pangs, and I'm not talking about emotions.

My friend Miranda ordered the fried green tomatoes with grilled shrimp, which were very good and exactly what one would expect. Crisp fried tomatoes, big old grilled prawns, and a spicy remolaude sauce on top, along with an interesting garnish of ribbon potato chips. Worked for us.

My boyfriend ordered the grilled duck with orange soy glaze, shitake mushrooms, and pecans. This was pretty excellent and had a lot of rich, oaky flavor - the mushrooms (not surprisingly) go pretty well with soy and duck. (My boyfriend also fed me all the duck fat because He is The Best).

I had mahi-mahi with avocado, which was a nice, light counterpart to the cardiac-arrest inducing other option on the Jacques-Imos menu. This was pretty good, if not great. Could have used more avocado. I must censure Jacques-Imos on their collard greens, which possess no visible bacon. Squeal Barbeque right down the street does a much better job on the collard front. The thin-cut shoestring fries are pretty tasty, however.

And on the left......Raj ordered the carpet-bagger steak with bleu cheese, onion, oysters, and Hollandaise sauce, a monolithic slab o' cow that was prepared admirably rare. This was passed around the table between roughly five people and no one could quite finish it. At $21.50, that's technically a deal.

Then on the right...there was this Thing on the menu called, I believe, the Soft-Shell Crab Godzilla or something of that nature. What you need to know is that this arrived to my friend in the form of a softshell crab stabbed completely through with a knife on top of fried eggplants with sauce. As long as you're okay with eating something that sorta resembles an alien, this was pretty good, as fried soft-shell crabs always are.

Our server was a great dude with the requisite "I'm an alternative New Orleans waiter" type-look and a friendly attitude. We were comped a bottle of champers when he realized that Raj was going to a great grad program, two people had graduated, I was in from Cambodia for the first time in a year and my friend Bojo was headed to Shanghai for a prestigious fellowship. Gotta love that.

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