Monday, January 30, 2006

CreoLa, San Carlos

It's been nearly two years since my last trip to New Orleans, and the city's famous beignets still haunt my culinary dreams. While there, I indulged in the warm, doughnut-like pastries every day. I dragged Jon to Cafe Du Monde (of course) as well as several Cafe Beignets around the French Quarter.

Back here in the Bay Area, if I hear that a restaurant has beignets on the menu, you can bet that I'll be there. Which is how we ended up at CreoLa on Friday for dinner.

Although New Orleanians may be right when they say that you can't find authentic Cajun and Creole food outside of the city, CreoLa comes close. There were so many fried items on the menu, I had a really hard time making a decision! But I knew for sure I had to get one particular appetizer: oysters, wrapped in bacon, dipped in a batter and then deep-fried. OMG. How could you go wrong with that combination?! Delicious.

As if that wasn't enough deep-friedness for me, I also ordered the crawfish hush puppies, which were served with a remoulade sauce. They were tasty, but I actually prefer plain ol' hush puppies smeared with a bit of honey butter (the way I enjoy them when visiting the in-laws in South Carolina). Jon started his meal with the hearty and flavorful jambalaya, which featured Andouille sausage and chicken.

For our entrees, I had the porkchops with buttermilk mashed potatoes (a special); Jon had the Sunday chicken, which came with a side of cornbread stuffing. While the stuffing was excellent, the rest of it rated just a "good" in my book. (Maybe next time we'll try the alligator medallions!)

For dessert, we had to get the beignets, of course. They were fine, but not up to New Orleans' standards -- where they're so light and airy, you can eat half a dozen in one sitting. A better choice was the combo pie, which is a combination of the two other pies on the menu: the French silk (chocolate mousse) and the velvet pie (peanut butter mousse). It's so simple, yet so awesome. And, yes, you can order up a cup of chicory coffee -- just like in New Orleans.

CreoLa only seats about 60, so I'd recommend calling for a reservation if you're planning to stop by during the weekend. Dinner is served seven nights a week, while lunch is only offered on Wednesdays (I know -- random). While the decor feels a little dated (I could do without the fake greenery and flowers), the service was friendly and efficient. I would definitely come back here if I'm craving a taste of the Big Easy. Sadly, though, my search for beignets as delicious as Cafe Du Monde's continues...

Pssst! Next month, the restaurant will celebrate Mardi Gras by offering a special dinner: four courses for just $25.

344 El Camino Real
San Carlos, CA
(650) 654-0882