Stopped by with Tapas52 for dinner tonight and had a really good time. The place was pretty slow as it was a Sunday night during the middle of the holiday season. Was given menus by Susan our server and served a sliced baguette as well as a couple pieces of cornbread (note: cornbread was not sweet and the ample ramekin of butter was soft, not rock hard).
Orders were taken and we had time to discuss our preferences when it came to spiciness of the dishes. They offer a scale of 1 to 5 but offer an addition of their dried spices to add as well as bottles of Tabasco. I ordered the Gumbo and Tapas ordered the special chili with cheese that was being offered. Both were spot-on, with the seasoning really well done. I appreciated the fact that the Gumbo was not overwhelmed with rice as has happened elsewhere.
Entrees were Jambalaya chosen by Tapas and a special of Pork Loin Roullade served with a cornbread& pecan stuffing and roasted butternut squash. The Jambalaya was served super spicy as requested, and the Pork Loin was tender and the stuffing was a nice contrast. The squash could have used a bit more seasoning, maybe some cinnamon & black pepper, but all in all was quite tasty.
Tapas went for the Bananas Foster dessert which was prepared table side by Susan, who cooked the dessert while describing the ingredients and preparations involved.
During the meal both Meredith and the chef Cliff stopped by the table to chat and it was obvious that they were both interested in how we had come across their place and talked in general about the local food scene and trying to attract a following in a rather nondescript commercial plaza off Rt.9.
The meal was really good and the folks working there are obviously intent on providing an authentic NOLA dining experience. They are BYOB but share the space with a bar that offers drinks within a few steps as well as packaged goods to enjoy during the meal.
Meredith's deserves a visit, as there is a lack of places that offer a true taste of NOLA in the Monmouth County area.