I went with a group of five to a cajun restaurant called Mardi Gras near Forest Hills (70-20 Austin St. (70th Rd.) Queens, NY, 11375 (718) 261-8555) last week. Why? (If one needs a reason) I've decided to sample every cajun or creole restaurant in the five boroughs to test the thesis that none are very good. (I'm interested in anyone's thoughts, by the way, as to why it is New York has such a hard time supporting a good Louisiana-style restaurant. If there isn't a good reason not to, my fantasy is to open one myself).
Everything started okay, with a decent bottled beer selection (Abita and Blackened Voodoo, among others), good enough Andouille sausage and great gumbo to start, offset somewhat by mediocre popcorn shrimp, tasteless veggie fritters/hushpuppies and just-awful fried calamari.
Things went a bit downhill at dinner. Crawfish etouffee had a slightly fishy (?!?!) taste. The Jamabalya and Fried Chicken were ordinary. A pasta with seafood was burdened by an overly-sweet tomato sauce. Creole Shrimp was the best of the lot.
With little excitement, we shared one dessert, a halfway decent Sweet Potato Pecan Pie, which to our amazement and consistent with our server's assurances, was not sickly Karo-sweet.
Cooking With Jazz in Whitestone is next. I have not given up hope.