Monday, January 3, 2011

Bourbon Street By Way of Lafayette

Great Jones Cafe
54 Great Jones St
(between Lafayette St & Bowery)
New York, NY 10012
(212) 674-9304

My friend Sydney is a very reliable restaurant-picker.  We met a couple years ago while working on a television show together, but I think a big reason we became friends outside of work was our mutual love of food, both in cooking/baking and going out to fun restaurants.  She's a native New Yorker, so I completely trust her and go to any restaurant she suggests.  In the past, she has been the mastermind behind lovely meals at places like Co., Cafe Mogador, Schiller's Liquor Bar, Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles Inc, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, Rice to Riches, Stand, and Golden Unicorn, among others.  She recently told me that she had to take me to Great Jones Cafe, and so we went to this small NoHo restaurant specializing in Southern/New Orleans cuisine.  Talk about serious comfort.  They also have a variety of burgers, but I can't imagine actually ordering them given the other delicious options!

A menu and a board of specials are displayed on the largest wall inside this small space, while paper menus are also handed out with additional options

Lunch specials of the day

The food is not the only cozy aspect of Great Jones Cafe.  The restaurant itself is fairly small with a bar stretching across one side, and a seriously old school jukebox hanging out by the bar.  You can easily peek into the small kitchen through open windows behind the bar as well.

The jukebox accepts only dollar bills, no quarters for this baby

The paper menu

I had to start with a piece of the jalapeño cornbread, which is drizzled with honey and served with an unnecessary pat of butter (it's so good it doesn't need the butter!).  It's really quite moist inside while showcasing a perfect cast-iron crust!  The jalapeños are very small pieces which I prefer to giant chunks.  A bit of spice spreads out through the cornbread and into your mouth without big spicy bites of pepper.  The cornbread itself is on the sweet side, and I love the honey drizzled over the top.  Hello, new addiction.

Jalapeño Cornbread $0.95

Sydney recommended the pulled pork sandwich or blackened catfish po' boy sandwich as a couple of her favorites.  I was already torn between those and the fried shrimp po' boy sandwich on the specials menu.  I ended up getting the blackened catfish po' boy while she got the fried shrimp one and we both swapped sandwich halves.  That's what friends are for :)  Both are served on a special soft and chewy Louisiana French bread with lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onions, and a homemade mayo-based sauce.  The blackened catfish is melt-in-your-mouth tender and so juicy and delicious.  Meanwhile, the shrimp tasted so light for being fried!  I imagine it was simply tossed in seasoned flour and fried instead of being battered as we at first expected.  This was really a great touch because it didn't weigh down the sandwich too much with thick batter and really highlighted the delicious, sweet flavor of the shrimp.  We loved both sandwiches a lot!  I paid $1 extra and upgraded my fries to sweet potato fries while Sydney stuck with the original.  Both were great!  Mine were super crispy for sweet potato fries (sometimes a challenge) and hers were also crispy, and seasoned well.  There was more than just salt, but I'm not sure what else they used.  Either way, the fries were not disappointing.

Fried Shrimp Po' Boy with Fries $11.95

Blackened Catfish Po' Boy with Fries $11.95 (plus $1 for Sweet Potato Fries)

Fried Shrimp Po' Boy (left) and Blackened Catfish Po' Boy (right)

Overall, I really loved Great Jones Cafe!  It's so simple in appearance on the outside, and not much fancier on the inside, but the beauty is in the food.  It's classic, it's comfort, and it transports you to a warmer place, far far away from a chilly New York City winter day.  The menu is pretty limited, but the rave reviews are warranted.  Great Jones Cafe is worth a visit.  Maybe next time I'll return for dinner or weekend brunch :)


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