It was a cold and rainy night…
Actually it was thundering and pouring, but the lovely folks at Ethel’s Creole Kitchen opened the door and gave us a super warm welcome. They have a charming dining room and bar seating. While at the bar, we were able to see in the kitchen and chat with the bartender and part owner, Jeff Berkow. This place is newly re-opened and I think it is going to be a star in Mount Washington.
I started with a medium bodied pinot noir from California; it warmed me right up. I was super hungry and wanted to try everything – especially when I saw the salads that came out for the neighboring couple at the bar. I had hard time deciding among the appetizers – crab cakes, crab dip, oysters, etc… We started with the Chippepa (just as fun to say as it is to eat). It’s hard to tell from that picture, but its a fire-roasted red pepper covering a mound of sliced andouille sausage, creamy melted mozzarella, crisp and crunchy peppers and onions. Then the whole thing is covered with that beautiful red sauce. You could smell the perfectly balanced sweet and spicy sauce the moment the plate hit the table. My first thought was to dunk the warm, crusty bread in it. I think I spun around on my bar stool with that first bite. This was such a mix of everything good – I am thinking about it right now.
These guys are creole inspired – so they have both gumbo and jambalaya on the menu. Upon the rec of the bartender, I went with the gumbo. Both come with the same sausage and choice of chicken, shrimp, or crab. My eyes were certainly bigger than my stomach because I was barely able to make a dent in the ginormous plate of rice, veggies, and meats. I am a novice to the southern inspired dishes, so I wasn’t expecting the thick dark roux (even though it was clearly described as such on the menu). Nevertheless, I wasn’t disappointed. The stew is made with a very slow slimmer of several different stocks, okra and that spicy andouille. I can’t wait till I get to New Orleans!
My mom did much better finishing her rockfish. The filet is pan-seared and then topped with a butter beurre blanc made with Tuacca. I have never liked Tuacca that much. I don’t know if you can see in the picture, but they serve this meaty fish with grilled lemon slices – so the mellow, warm juice flows out and doesn’t squirt anyone in the eye. The rice these guys have is outrageously – citrusy with a texture that stands up to both the fish and the gumbo.
But, the moment the bartender told us the dessert of the day was house-made carrot cake, we put our forks down. They topped the vanilla ice cream with cinnamon and these round carrot cakes with a house-made cream cheese icing. It was sweet. It was spiced with cinnamon. Desserts are not usually my favorite part of a meal – but this came pretty darn close.