In preparation for our first, much-anticipated visit to the Creole-influenced Harold & Belle's, Ms. rabo and I spend a good portion of our Sunday food-deprived, trying to apportion precious stomach real estate. We are beyond ravenous by our 6PM arrival.
Great vibe to this place, something warm and familiar, as if we'd been invited to eat over at someone's home; albeit, a sizeable home, one with a full bar right by the front door, and many loud, happy guests.
After much tortured kvetching, I decide on some jambalaya (no doubt influenced by a recent Chowhound thread on the subject). After a bowl of mediocre clam chowder (all meals have a soup or salad option), the waiter plunks down an enormous plate of orange-hued rice, sausage, chicken, etc., easily enough to feed an entire Canal St funeral procession. Unfortunately, my meal does not live up to my admittedly stratospheric expectations---a little smoke from the sausage, no kick, quite bland. Paul Prudhomme would not approve. Despite my misgivings, I eat just about all of it anyway.
Ms. rabo's fried catfish, however, is another story. Hot damn, is this good stuff (eat your heart out, Uncle Darrow). The well-seasoned corn-meal coating clings to each piece of succulent, white hot catfish like a tight jacket, providing a gritty, satisfying crunch with each bite. Soothing, eggy homemade tartar sauce accomapanies. Ms. rabo, who's appetite is small, is physically dwarfed by her heaping portion. I, in all my old-school chivalry, offer assistance.
A third member of our party, a Longtime Fan of Harold & Belle's, orders up some fried chicken wings. Again, we're talking about seven pterodactyl-sized wings, served with a lake of red beans and rice you could jet-ski on. I demand one wing for sampling (and given two)---and it quickly becomes clear that my jambalaya is the only swing-and-a-miss of the evening. These folks know how to fry up a thing or two.
Longtime Fan insists on some peach cobbler to top things off---wholly unnecessary, since I am about to pass out from overconsumption. Luckily, it isn't that good, and I'm spared further weight gain.
Total for all of the above---plus 2 coffees, lemonade, and a gin and tonic---$80. Perhaps not the cheapest Creole food option in town, but if that fried food hankering comes a-callin', I can hardly think of a better choice. And, seriously, I'm still full.
HAROLD & BELLE'S
2920 W. Jefferson Blvd (East of Crenshaw)