Tried their much vaunted lunch special. Walked in a little after 11 without reservations and was seated immediately in an empty restaurant. Which did fill up around me not too soon afterwards.
I had an early dinner the night before and passed on any late night steak specials so I would have extra room for this meal.
From the $18.80 3 course lunch menu, I had the gumbo ya ya to start. Entrée was the cast iron grilled catfish over grits topped with greens. Dessert was the beignets. In addition to this, I ordered their 1-1-1 since I love soups. A trio of their soups, served in demitasse cups. Its usually the seafood gumbo, turtle soup and soup du jour. Which happened to be cream of wild mushroom that day. I love mushrooms so that sold it for me. The waitress talked up the crab cake and my empty stomach convinced me I would have room for everything.
The gumbo ya ya was the smoothest silkiest gumbo Ive had. The texture really sold me on this. This was followed up the trio. I started with the cream of mushroom. Although it was good, there was nothing special about it. The seafood gumbo was excellent, chunks of shrimp and scallops. Instead of everything blending together, you could taste each individual piece of seafood. I saved the famous turtle soup for last. After tasting, I had them add a few more drops of sherry just to cut the richness of the soup. It was very thick and meaty and very rich. A meal could be made out of a bowl of this and some bread and butter.
Next up was the lump crab cake. I was actually disappointed in this. I had discounted the waitresses hype that this would be the best crab cake Ive ever had. But I still expected a great crab cake. This was good but not great. There was very little filler and it was all lump pieces. But somehow it just didnt meld together, the crab tasted a touch watery and it tasted more like a bunch of crab meat that had been picked and put into a circle mold.
The entrée of catfish was cooked just right. Firm and juicy, no dryness to it all. The grits were a good texture without being lumpy and the corn taste contrasted well with the catfish. I didnt care for the greens and okra on top. Being married to a southern girl, Ive come to appreciate okra, but these were kind of slimy and bland with the texture of cafeteria over steamed green beans. The rest of the greens weren't that good and didn't cut the flavors of the catfish and grits like I wanted them to do. As a result the dish felt a bit unbalanced in flavors.
After all this food, I was getting full and was intimidated by the beignets. There were seven big pieces drizzled with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar with a side cup of a caramel coffee sauce. These were only okay. The exterior was fried nicely but the interior was somewhat doughy and heavy. Kind of like they werent fried properly all the way through or the oil wasnt right. Or maybe it was just because I was getting full and these felt heavy. The sauces were good.
Overall it was an enjoyable meal. Service was attentive. When the waitress saw I was really into the food, she would stop and discuss each course with me. As a solo diner, I appreciate it when the waitstaff notices Im there for the food and not just a meal. The one odd thing was when I received my bill, they had charged me for the beignets separately. It was taken off when I questioned it but just another reminder to always check the bill closely. At $8, it would have been easy for me not to notice it in the total since I had ordered so much other food.