When Cajun Town Cafe opened its EaDo location at 2240 Navigation Blvd. just a hop, skip, and jump from my house in January I might have been its third customer. The possibility of being able to score seafood po'boys and other Creole and Cajun staples within walking distance was thrilling.
“I’ll take my usual plus some extra onion rings and slaw,” I imagined myself relaying to the clerk on duty (who would immediately recognize me, natch) at least once a week. (What my "usual" would be, however, would be TBD after a delightful preliminary period of testing most of the menu items.)
Over a decade of food writing should have taught me by now that new restaurants, even new locations of established restaurants such as Cajun Town Cafe, usually do not hit the ground running in graceful fashion, because of many factors not necessarily within their control. Visiting a new restaurant in its early days of operation is not likely to yield a transcendent experience, and judging its lasting merits based on that experience is not fair.
To that end, for my first time at Cajun Town Cafe, most of the menu items were unavailable and my po'boy, cornbread, and gumbo took 25 minutes to prepare and arrived barely at room temperature. The cornbread and gumbo were passable, the fried shrimp in the po'boy soggy and haphazardly battered. Far more positive reviews of Cajun Town Cafe’s fare at its other location convinced me to hang tight, allow the EaDo branch to work out the kinks, and return at a later date.
Three months later, I popped by for an early dinner and my patience was richly rewarded. An oyster po'boy studded with juicy cornmeal-encrusted bivalves was well-dressed in a peppery aioli and encased in French bread, pillowy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. I skipped the side of fries in favor of the more flavorful Cajun corn, liberally spiced with cayenne and well-lubricated in butter.
I also tried CTC’s signature “Titantic” dip, an earthy roux base with crawfish, shrimp, mushrooms, and spinach, then covered in a thick mantle of melted jack cheese and served with toasted garlic bread slices. Between the briny broth and the delicious cheese, this dip is guaranteed to sink anyone's appetite. I will be ordering a triple portion for my 2020 Super Bowl party.
Lesson learned: the early bird does not get the worm (or the best po'boy) when it comes your new neighborhood restaurant.