Montgomery, AL – Imagine the sights, sounds and flavors of Mardi Gras and New Orleans but without the nudity, having to dodge flying Moon Pies and random revelers tinkling in the streets… Enter Big Easy Creole Café.
With a broad menu encompassing Creole and Cajun cuisine, Big Easy is an upbeat, satisfying romp for the tongue and the senses.
Appetizer choices range from Boudin balls (rice, sausage, vegetables and spices fried, served with a Cajun dipping sauce) to Cajun-style chicken wings and crab claws, with appetizers priced between $6 – $8. My companion and I couldn’t resist the Boudin balls which were a welcome departure from the standard appetizer offerings found at most restaurants. Piping hot, seasoned in a balanced way with the right proportion of ingredients, they were highly enjoyable.
I thoroughly enjoyed the seafood etouffee, which featured crawfish and shrimp, a delectable cream sauce, crowned with a mound of rice and garnished with fresh green onions, and served with three slices of fresh, soft French bread. The look of the dish alone earned my praise as it’s the type of attractive presentation you typically only see in a pretentious, over-priced restaurant. Like the Boudin balls, this entrée was served piping hot and no one can gripe about the portion size. The combination of spices heightened the appeal of the dish, though I think someone in the kitchen had a case of happy fingers when it came to adding the cayenne pepper… it was pretty spicy! For those who can’t manage the heat in general, I would suggest you make a special request for preparing some of the dishes which might contain a serious kick to the taste buds. The etouffee was served with a fresh, tasty side salad. The entrée’s cost, a very reasonable $13.
My companion opted for the fried oysters, which were also piping hot and were served with seasoned French fries. She said the oysters were good and she appreciated the fact that they weren’t overly breaded.
Other entrees include traditional red beans and rice, shrimp Creole, jambalaya, BBQ shrimp and crab cakes. Fried shrimp and fried catfish are also available and are served with fries and cole slaw ($10). Pasta dishes, which include a side salad and French bread, range from a pesto to an alfredo linguine for $8-$9. Tasso (Cajun smoked, spiced pork), chicken, andouille sausage, shrimp or crawfish can be added to the pasta dishes for a minimal price. Two specialty salads are also available – Crescent City Caesar Salad ($6) and Street Car Chef Salad ($5). Various items, including shrimp and chicken, can be added to both salads for just a few dollars. Big Easy’s gumbo can be ordered by the cup ($4) or by the bowl ($6).
Big Easy has a lock on po boy offerings as well. Half-sandwiches are $4 – $7 and whole sandwiches are $6 – $12 and come “dressed” (with lettuce, tomato, pickle and mayo), and various cheeses can be added for $.75. The po boys can be made with everything ranging from beef or andouille sausage to chicken, meatballs or crawfish. A New Orleans favorite, the muffaletta, is also available (half – $7, whole – $13). The muffaletta consists of ham, salami, mortadella and provolone, dressed with an olive salad and served on Leidenheimer Muffaletta Bread.
Beverages range from sodas to the Gulf Coast favorite, Community Coffee and Teas. Beer and liquor are also available and happy hour runs from 4 – 7 pm daily. Desserts include tiramisu; the NOLA favorite, beignets; and a bread pudding with a whiskey sauce. A children’s menu is available with all of the items priced at $5 and each includes fries. Specials vary by day but included boiled crawfish for $7 per pound when we visited.
The service was speedy and our server was quite pleasant and attentive to our needs and requests. I was amazed and obviously pleased that our appetizer was served within five minutes of it being ordered and our entrees and accompanying items were served less than 15 minutes after placing our orders.
Big Easy also offers live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday with fun-loving Zydeco music playing in the background during their other hours of operation. The combination of party music, friendly staff, adventuresome and reasonably-priced food, and authentic décor provides a very relaxing and casual yet lively taste of New Orleans.
Big Easy Creole Café is located in Montgomery, Alabama at 109 Eastern Boulevard (Atlanta Crossings complex in the former Dreamland Barbecue building); 334-272-8510; www.Bigeasypoboys.com. Catering and booking for private parties are also available. Big Easy is open Monday through Saturday, 11 am and has no set closing time so far but averages staying open until around 9:30 – 10 pm.
Article by Joseph O. Patton
Publisher’s Note: Joseph O. Patton is the founder and former publisher of the Capital City Free Press and has worked as an editor, reporter, features writer, commentator and photographer for the Montgomery Independent, Coosa County News and the AUMnibus. He is also the creator and former on-air personality for WAUD Radio in Auburn’s weekly politics and humor segment, “Goat Hill Gossip,” and has worked as a political analyst for that station and for “First Call with Kevin Elkins” airing on 1440 AM in Montgomery. Patton has a degree in Political Science with a minor in Journalism from Auburn-Montgomery.
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