Having spent a good part of my childhood in this neighborhood, none of my family members have ever gone into Harold and Belle's despite having passed it by a zillion times. I haven't been here for a few years, and got a chance to go with my family this week. Trying to branch out my traditional Japanese parents is an interesting task. For instance, my father will always order a steak when he can, and he got his steak here, and surprisingly enough, it was very good. The rest of us ordered to the strength of the creole menu. Jambalaya, fried seafood platter, crawfish etoufee, grilled sea bass. We ordered from different parts of the menu (except we didn't get any gumbo--bummer, I know), and everything we got was very well prepared. I expected a clunker here or there, but there wasn't one. I did want to try the gumbo, but I knew we were already in for too much food having ordered one entree per person. There would have been plenty of food with leftovers if we ordered 4 entrees among the 5 of us. The jambalaya may have been my favorite item. The andouille flavored the entire dish with an intense smokiness. Although I've never been the New Orleans, I've tried many a crawfish etoufee and this was the best one I've encountered. The fried seafood (red snapper, shrimp, oyster) was also perfectly fried -- crispy and greaseless. The grilled sea bass was nicely seasoned and grilled to medium doneness, and topped with sauteed mushrooms. While Creole cooking can be assertively flavored, I really appreciated how every dish from this kitchen allowed the natural flavors of the ingredients shine through. The balance between assertive spicing and preserving natural flavors was as masterful as I've encountered. Perhaps I was there on an "on"-night, as I've read a few prior reports of items being too salty or boring. Regardless, I would recommend Harold and Belle's to anyone seeking good Creole food. We had to wait till the vegetarian in our family left town to come here however.
Harold and Belle's
2920 W. Jefferson Blvd (at 10th Ave)