Dec. 19, 2012 - Issue #896: New Year’s Eve - Style & Party Guide
Be sure to bring your appetite
I didn't know that's what I would be doing when I checked out Creole Envie, a creole restaurant that recently opened in the old Culina Highlands space after inhabiting a tiny nook in Jasper Place. But the one thing you cannot fail to notice, which probably stems from its American culinary orientation, is that Creole Envie is generous with their portions.
The present regime, helmed by chef/owner Danielle Majeau, has preserved some of the esthetic quirks of Culina's rustic-in-the-city interior concept—simple-yet-snug dining area, cigar box paper towel dispensers in the loo, mismatched baba-vintage flatware and respectable garage sale furniture tastefully deployed in functional roles—but the menu is all new and all southern, from its blackened catfish po'boys and collard greens to its mint juleps and bourbon-pecan pie.
The promise of casual-gourmet dining notwithstanding, a good chunk of the menu is quite affordably priced. Po'boys go for $10 and they're massive (sweet potato fries are extra, but still). Most of the dishes are priced under $20—the only big-ticket items are meaty: ribs, fried chicken, triple-pork pork chops, or the 30-buck 'Taste of Soul' platter that hits all the highlights: gumbo, rice and beans, jambalaya, fried chicken, ribs, catfish and bread pudding. That can't possibly be for one person.
For ourselves, we decided on the crawfish cheese bread ($12) for starters, then proceeded to a plate of fried catfish ($15) for my co-diner and, get ready for it, the Andouille-stuffed bacon-wrapped pork chops ($26) for me. My co-diner might have gone for this, but the absence of hyphens on the menu left her unsure which was stuffed with what and wrapped how. I had no such compunctions.
I was pleased to find the lovely Le Bombarde Cannonau ($8/glass) on the small but judicious winelist, having previously been recommended this Sardinian take on French grenache for pairing with smoky and saucy repasts, and no less delighted to be presented with a free sample of alcoholic ginger beer—many of you will already have thought of Crabbie's—during the meal. The service, it should be noted, was both personable and attentive, and when my co-diner tried and failed twice to get the side dish of her choice—they'd had a busy night—the management offered to knock 10 percent off our total bill on the spot. Clearly they aim to please.
Our appetizer assured us we would not be leaving hungry: two halves of a French loaf had been liberally slathered with a mix of mozza, Cajun mayo, al dente burls of sweet, pink crawfish, green onion and red pepper, and broiled in our honour. I shamelessly devoured mine, then polished off the remainder of my co-diner's portion when she feared it would crowd out her entrée.
Her concern was justified, as her portion of lightly coated, pan-fried catfish came with an enormous side-serving of buttery, creamy corn grits and enough Cajun mayo to float a small watercraft. My double serving of porked-up pork chops, with a side of Jim Beam applesauce and a heap of pecan green beans, was also somewhat daunting.
The locally sourced chops, about the thickness of a medium-length Stephen King novel, were indeed seamed with stuffing made with pork sausage and ensconced entirely in slices of crispy bacon. One of the chops was perfectly juicy, with a hint of heat from the savoury stuffing; the other was a little dry, but this was nothing that couldn't be remedied by ladling on the bourbon-infused, cinnamon-scented applesauce. The crunchy, nutty green beans were the perfect accompaniment. My co-diner enjoyed her fish, but didn't make it too far into the grits and wished for a green, crunchy accompaniment of her own; because those beans were mine.
For reasons that elude me—the generally low price point of the desserts might have been a factor—we decided to conclude our already considerable intake by sharing a piece of house-made bourbon-pecan pie ($4), the essential pecaniness and sweetness of which made it worth every penny. I also had a fantastic pot of organic Earl Grey tea along with it.
With just two months of operation in their current location, Creole Envie might still be ironing out a few kinks, but their obvious commitment to providing a quality dining experience (at very reasonable prices) is not in question. And they provided me with a handy reminder to take my Yuletide fat clothes to the cleaners. Happy holiday eating, everyone.
6509 – 112 Ave,
creoleenvie.net vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
Vue respects your privacy. We will not forward your personal information to any other organization except as required by law, and will use your e-mail address only to respond to your comments. We reserve the right to edit and remove comments for length, clarity and/or if they are illegal or inappropriate. Your email address is never shown to visitors to vueweekly.com. Read the whole policy at: http://vueweekly.com/privacy