The Gumbo Bros.

Columbus Circle New York, NY 10019(347) 719-4579thegumbobros.com

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This is another food-only review courtesy of Madison Eats so definitely don’t take it as a holistic restaurant review, because it’s truthfully only a very narrow sampling. But sometimes you can tell a lot from a first impression, so I wouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Funny you should mention water, because that’s my first gripe. I find their gumbo way too watery. I much prefer it thick and hearty, loaded with chunks upon chunks of spicy goodies. But to be fair, within their soupy shrimp and okra bowl (pictured, although I assure you it looks nothing like that in person) there was still a decent amount of both floating about. Floating being the key word here. For example that scoop of rice you see above, it dispersed into the watery depths like someone firing gunshots in a crowd.

Also, I found the shrimp itself disappointing on two levels. First because it was shrimp instead of crawfish. WTF?! Isn’t that gumbo 101? And second, the shrimp was a touch under cooked and thus slimy. Luckily the impending stomach ache was averted, perhaps due to the ample use of heat, which was very much too my liking and probably the thing that killed off whatever the under cooked shrimp might’ve been carrying.

So let’s chalk it up to a bullet dodged and I’ll chalk up Gumbo Bros. as a pretty weak showing worthy of a deuce.

2 teeth

J. Gumbo’s

61 W 23rd St. New York, NY 10010(212) 206-8501 •  jgumbos.com

jambalaya

Finally! Good, quick Cajun in the city. It’s one of my favorite cuisines and it kills me that there’s such a drought of places to get it. I assume it must not be as marketable to the Northern palate, but if we can have Ethiopian restaurants up in this bitch, I think we can do Cajun. Can I get an amen?

So, having fully tipped my hand, you can imagine that I liked it. And while it isn’t flawless, it is WAY better than Indikitch a few steps down the block, which seems to be doing business like gangbusters. But, if you like spicy, and you don’t need to have Indian per se, do like Johnnie Walker and keep walking.

I tried several different dishes, because they let you sample, and the Drunken Chicken won the Battle Royale. Granted the Jambalaya was pretty good as well, but me likey the spicy and it’s a little light on the heat. As was the Etouffée, which was the biggest disappointment of the three. Way too mild to carry the name, which means “choke” as in so hot it causes you to. It also happens to be one of my favorite dishes, so perhaps I’m a bit more critical than most. That said, their hot sauce is pretty impressive, so next time I might just order the Etouffée and get all Emeril on its ass and “kick it up a notch.”

On the value side of things, the portions are generous and come with cornbread, dessert and a drink. The cornbread is passable, but the drink options are unfortunately just the usual suspects courtesy of Coke and Pepsi.

But the biggest miss was the peach cobbler for dessert. Shoulda gone with Dave’s Cookies. The cobbler is soggy and made with canned peaches. Fortunately it’s also made with lots of butter and sugar, so the taste is okay, but consistency is a big uneasy.

Service is friendly and décor is pretty standard with the minor exception of the art on the walls. But none of that matters because what’s truly important is that we got ourselves some bona fide Cajun my friends. I guarantee.

3 teeth

Momofuku Ko

163 1st Ave. New York, NY 10003 (212) 500-0831momofuku.com

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If I could give it 6 knives I would (which I suppose I can, it’s my blog after all, but that would require I go back into photoshop, add more categories- it’s a process). And I would give it this rating mostly because the level of difficulty was so high, having to live up to such massive hype and ballooned expectations. So, for it to not disappoint is a feat in itself.

This is not to say that Ko is flawless by any stretch, but it’s faults are simply overshadowed by its screaming successes. For example one nit would be the décor, or the lack thereof. It is as basic as basic gets. A lot like Pearl Oyster bar back in the day, before they expanded. Primarily a wood bar with twelve uncomfortable stools. But to be fair, it’s also part of its theme, and charm. It’s the lack of expensive real estate and lavish decor that allows them to offer a world-class meal at $100 per person.

The other nit, was the service. While they are extremely friendly and helpful, the first time I went they were a touch too aggressive with plate removal and a bit overwhelming at times with the delivery of courses. Sometimes placing  4 and 5 at a time in front of you. Which, if you become aware of it, and I was, detracts from the experience. Fortunately upon my second visit they must’ve gotten the message from my Yelp review (kidding!) and were significantly better about it.

But with nits aside, it is definitely an experience worth every last penny. And one I will HAPPILY return for (and did), regardless of their minor transgressions.

Now for the things that rocked my world. Of the dozen or so courses between both outings, these are the ones that reached god-like status (many of which are Ultimates):

  1. The Cajun inspired crawfish soup with orange and brioche
  2. The soft boiled egg with caviar served along side fresh baked sourdough and radish butter (also Ultimate bread & butter)
  3. The agnolotti with tofu and sweet corn (Ultimate tofu dish)
  4. The honeydew melon cold soup with avocado and macadamia nuts (Ultimate cold soup)
  5. The shitake mushroom soup amuse bouche
  6. The Halibut with ??? – sorry, I was tad inebriated on sparkling Saki by this point

So, that’s it. Stop reading and start clicking away online to get a reservation. It’s a pain in the ass trying, but your mouth will kiss you for it.

5 teeth