Blue Orleans is a New Orleans-inspired Creole restaurant in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, opened by a family displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
So, when I wrote about Enzo’s Market a few weeks ago I believe that I mentioned that we were actually planning to try Blue Orleans but they are not open for lunch. They open at 4:00 p.m., so we decided yesterday to head there again with our friend Rachel for an early dinner. We got there about 4:30 and were the first patrons in the restaurant, so we were of course seated immediately.
Blue Orleans is a New Orleans-inspired Creole restaurant in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, opened by a family displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The walls are brick, the floors hardwood, and the tables shiny wood. The restaurant is decorated with fleur de lis and some Saints gear, but nothing gaudy (which is what you often find in Creole/Cajun restaurants). It’s a nice, tastefully decorated place, smaller than we imagined based on the outside.
Our server, who was lovely (and I believe my have been one of the owners), took our drink order. They serve 20-ounce bottled Coke products for $2.00 each (this is the second place we’ve been in the last month that serves bottled drinks-unusual indeed), unsweetened tea, beer, wine, and of course water. Philip and I ordered water and Rachel decided on unsweetened tea. One thing I can say is that they kept our drinks full to the top! Our server and another very, very friendly lady came around frequently to refill our glasses. Philip tried to talk us into some gator bits but Rachel and I weren’t convinced….plus at $9 they were a little steep. That was one issue that I had-the menu items were priced pretty high, with the least expensive entrée being a $12 po’boy and they quickly went up from there.
I decided on the shrimp po’boy, “dressed” (remoulade, lettuce, tomato, and pickle). The sandwich was huge, served on a large portion of French bread with breaded fried shrimp, shredded iceberg lettuce, and pickle chips. The shrimp were large and well-cooked, not chewy or gummy. The remoulade lent a bit of spiciness but was not overly spicy. The sandwich was a little “bready” and I ended up pulling a lot of the excess bread off, but it was still pretty good. I ordered Cajun fries with it; the fries were obviously from frozen, but I appreciated that they were not overly doused with Cajun spices like some that I’ve had…just enough to give them a mild spice.
Philip went way authentic (that’s sarcasm) and got a black and blue Orleans burger, which is topped with bacon and blue cheese and dressed with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayonnaise. This was really one of the largest burgers I’ve ever seen…it looked like one of those truck stop burgers that if you eat the whole thing they put your picture on the wall (by the way, Philip would have gotten his picture on the wall). The burger took up almost the whole bun, though, like me, Philip did pull a bit of the bread off. I wouldn’t call the burger itself a masterpiece…I don’t think there was anything “special” about the meat, but Philip did really like the combination of bacon and blue cheese with the other toppings. Philip got regular fries, which were just the same frozen shoestring fries that I had but just salted, not seasoned-nothing special but not bad either.
Rachel decided on the shrimpalaya-spiced cajun rice with sliced andouille sausage and seasoned sautéed shrimp. It was a pretty generous portion. Like my shrimp, Rachel’s shrimp was well-cooked, not chewy or gummy. The sausage was mildly spicy but not overwhelming. I tasted the rice and found it to also be well-cooked, not mushy or sticky and also not hard or crunchy, and it was spicy without being overwhelming (by the way, I need to get my aunt’s recipe for jambalaya to share with you guys!).
We decided to get some beignets to share for dessert. I love beignets, but, believe it or not, I’ve never made them from scratch. I really should soon. They are yeast-raised and most of the recipes that I’ve found for them contain evaporated milk, which is not an ingredient I generally keep on hand. I used to buy boxes of Café du Monde beignet mix at the grocery store and make them from that….not from scratch but still pretty delicious. Anyway, our server made sure that we were okay with waiting 10-15 minutes for the beignets to be prepared (we were) then brought out dessert plates for us. Beignets are basically yeast doughnuts without a hole. Strips of dough are fried till brown, during which time they puff up, and then they are generously doused with powdered sugar. These were very tasty-yeasty and a good sweet tooth solution without being tooth-achingly sweet.
So my verdict on Blue Orleans? Well, I am going to qualify this by saying that I have basically no experience with Cajun or Creole food. I’ve never been to New Orleans and the only “Cajun” restaurant where I’ve ever eaten before was Meo Mio’s. I’ve made “Cajun” recipes before or ordered “Cajun-seasoned” foods at restaurants. I am no expert. This food was definitely better than what we had at Meo Mio’s, but I have no idea how authentic it was. It was pretty good, but was it worth the price? Eh. I probably won’t go there again just based on the price for what we got. I will say that I thought the atmosphere was really nice, and the staff was very nice. I do believe it’s the only Cajun restaurant in town anymore (correct me if I’m wrong), so if you like Cajun food you’ll have to try it yourself to decide on the authenticity. Have you tried it? What are your thoughts (be nice/constructive and remember my comments policy!)?
Blue Orleans is located at 1463 Market Street (on the corner of Market and Main), Chattanooga, TN 37402. You can call them at 423-757-0088. You can find more information, including the Blue Orleans menu, at the Blue Orleans website. They are open Monday-Wednesday, 4-9 p.m.; Thursday 11-2 p.m. and 4-9 p.m., Friday 11-2 p.m. and 4-10 p.m., and Saturday, 4-10 p.m. (closed Sunday).