If you haven’t yet got around to checking out Gumbo A Go-Go, what are you waiting for? Just about all the “foodies” I know share the opinion that this popular new New Orleans-style spot features some of the best spicy Cajun and Creole chow around, and best of all, just about everything on the short Louisiana-style menu goes for a highly affordable $5.
|Gumbo A Go-Go
2109 Frankfort Ave.
Gumbo A Go-Go is the latest tenant in the odd little building set back from Frankfort Avenue just east of Nancy’s Bagel Grounds, a venue that’s been mostly vacant between terms of housing the short-lived Veggie Vault and Greek Paradise Cafe. The new proprietors seem to have grasped the secret that their predecessors missed, a concept that may be simply expressed as, well, professionalism.
They’ve painted and fixed up the front to dramatically improve the look of the place from Frankfort Avenue, and the interior never looked better, either, bright with Mardi Gras colors, deep purple and sunny bright yellow walls decorated with attractive paintings that feature hot-sauce themes.
Enter through the side door, place your order at the counter, from which you can see the busy but neatly organized kitchen, take a seat and wait … it won’t take long. Indeed, service is so brisk that today our lunch bowls were whisked out before we’d finished loading up our drink glasses at the self-service counter.
We’ve tried most of the eight main-course dishes on the menu and have yet to be disappointed. Dishes are served in generous portions in large white stoneware bowls with a good-size chunk of buttery garlic bread fashioned from decent grocery-store baguettes on the side.
Etouffée dishes are made with your choice of chicken, shrimp or crawfish in a roux-thickened sauce that packs a spicy punch without actually burning your lips off, served over converted white rice. In crawfish etouffée on an early visit, I would have liked a slightly darker roux in preference to the pale, rather floury rendition that could have spent a little more time in the black-iron skillet, but it was still good enough that I ate every bit of it. Chicken etouffée in a more recent lunch was right on the mark.
Jambalaya was first-rate, long-grain rice cooked up with thick-sliced, garlicky smoked sausage, long-cooked shreds of tender chicken, and large chunks of onion, green pepper and tomato with warm, not fiery Cajun spice and a good collection of bay leaves. It was intriguing and aromatic, just as jambolaya should be. From the Creole side of the menu, drunken chicken was excellent, too: Tender, boneless bites of chicken swam (I think it was the breast stroke) in a thick, savory stew of tomatoes and beer that all but sang (I think it was “Saints Go Marchin’ In”) with multi-dimensional spice.
Soft drinks are $1.50 with endless refills; beers are $2 for mass-market draft, $3 for imports and VooDoo brand from Louisiana.
There’s a lot to like at Gumbo A Go-Go, where owners Billy Fox (a New Orleans native and former racing jockey) and Jason Cardwell seem to have found the formula to make this one a keeper.