Some of my best finds are when I drop in somewhere for a quick bite (lunch before golf) and realize that I had better go get my camera out of the car. From the street, I would have thought it was a multi-location operation.
It has the slick look of a concept created with a lot of restaurant marketing and designing experience behind it, yet with no earmarks of any existing large chains I am aware of. In 2007, Marcus Payavla and Chance Comstock were co-workers in a large restaurant and they, like many chefs and managers of restaurants, had a dream of working together in their own Cajun restaurant and finally went for it with Orleans Seafood Kitchen. Décor in the restaurant is very New Orleans and signs hanging from the ceiling took me back to my many visits to the Crescent City. I was introduced to oysters on the half-shell by my father at the Acme Oyster Bar in New Orleans in November 1957 and a sign near Orleans’ oyster bar here was somewhat comforting. Homage is paid to other Nola landmarks, also, such as Central Grocery (They serve Muffalettas here, by the way). It’s pronounced “ahw-leenze” and it’s out the Katy Freeway in a shopping center between Fry Road and Mason Road.
Food is seriously Cajun and is ordered at the counter. Sample plates of popular dishes are lined up for inspection. While I tried the dishes that I normally associate with my forays into Cajun country… mostly fried, the menu runs the gamut… fried shrimp, fried crawfish and alligator, etouffee, gumbos, crabs, sautéed and broiled fish and of course, boiled crawfish… my hunger turned into curiosity and I was powerless to order, overwhelmed by the options. However, with a line behind me, I solved the problem by ordering several items with the idea that I would take a bunch home for my wife to sample (I had it refrigerated at the golf club for 4 ½ hours).
We started with a fried Seafood Platter, which was quite enough for two people to share (not that we did). Fried shrimp, crawfish, catfish, stuffed shrimp… more than I expected. For a more aggressive appetite, the Big Easy Platter is a seafood platter with oysters and extra shrimp. Everything was excellent, but the star was really the Fried Catfish. Huge… juicy… and crisp. Of all bayou country staples, I tend to judge a restaurant by the attention given to its fried catfish.
Fried Shrimp Po Boy
Fried Soft Shell Crab Po Boy
Po boys are a necessity in a restaurant of this type and we ordered a Fried Shrimp Po Boy and my all-time favorite… a Fried Soft Shell Crab Po Boy. I’m always wary when the menu says “Market Price”, but I was very surprised when the large perfectly fried crabs in a restaurant are priced less than I paid last week for fresh, uncooked ones at my fish monger. I would consider this a must-order when soft shell crabs are available.
I just said that I judge a Cajun restaurant by the catfish… but now that I think of it, I judge it by the color of the roux in the gumbo. As I prefer Cajun gumbo to Creole gumbo (which is frequently found in New Orleans), I was happy that the roux in the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo… or, the Seafood Gumbo that I ordered was the milk chocolate color I love. The gumbo here is as good as that I have had in south Louisiana. Frankly, gumbo is only as good as what you grew up eating and I was lucky enough to have grown up eating gumbo that tasted like this.
Shrimp and Crab Campeche
The Shrimp and Crabmeat Campeche cocktail is cool and refreshing and the shrimp aren’t overcooked as they sometimes are with boiled shrimp (They have that perfect “rebound” to the bite). The sauce is spicy, as you would hope, but not hot. Avocado, roasted jalapeños and lime juice complement the dish.
This time of year, Boiled Crawfish are on everyone’s menu and these at New Orleans Seafood Kitchen are, as they should be, served with potatoes and corn on the cob and I congratulate the chef for seasoning them enough to be interesting… but not so much to be oppressive.
Pecan Crusted Trout
While the restaurant honors the seafood of the Gulf of Mexico, there are dishes such fresh water Pecan Crusted Trout with a rich buttery sherried Decatur Sauce with crabmeat and shrimp that is simply delicious.
Also, don’t make the mistake of thinking that this place is all about fried foods… sauteed and broiled dishes with sophisticated sauces are a source of pride in this kitchen, too.
Now, Orleans Seafood Kitchen is NOT inside the loop, but in my opinion, it’s worth the short drive, a couple of exits past Highway 6 on the I-10 feeder street at Westgreen Boulevard exit between Mason and Fry Road.
20940 Katy Freeway, Suite G
Katy, Texas 77449