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February 19, 2009

Let the good times roll: Mardi Gras restaurants

MardiGras1.jpgJamie has e-mailed me asking where he can get a king cake around here to celebrate Mardi Gras with, and I haven't a clue. Neither does Food Editor Kate.

He also suggested a Top 10 for next Tuesday: Best Places to Get Creole- or Cajun-Inspired Cuisine to Celebrate the Mardi Gras Season. I'm game, although I can't think of many. If a restaurant serves jambalaya that may be enough to get it on the list.  Hey, if it serves eggs benedict a la Breakfast at Brennan's that may be enough.

Anyway, recommendations for either a Top 10 in honor of Mardi Gras or places to get a king cake will be much appreciated.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, FILE)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 8:04 PM | | Comments (31)


Two I can think of are the Bayou Cafe in the Avenue at White Marsh, and Clarence's Taste of New Orleans in Edgewood. Louisiana in Fells Point should count, too...they definitely have some Cajun influence, and their gumbo is good, albeit untraditional. I wish there were more...Cajun/creole is one of my favorites.

P.S. - it's not my cup of tea, but many people like the red beans and rice from Popeye's chicken, even though it's got two strikes against it (fast food and a chain, to boot.)

Excellent. Thanks. EL

The Hunt Valley Giant sells them.


I'm glad you brought this up. I've been in the mood for some good Cajun food recently. Louisiana is on the other side of the inner harbor, I'll have to check it out.

Giant on York Rd in the Rodgers Forge area sells King Cakes.

For Cajun/Creole check out Whisky Island Pirate shop. Mick does some mean bugs and I know he's got something going for Fat Tuesday!

Just a hunch ... but I'm guessing that Rochester-based Wegman's won't have a King Cake that measures up. Carnival on Lake Ontario just doesn't attract a crowd.

Kooper's tavern in Fells Point is also a great Mardi Gras spot (music, games, food). They do all the food and the King Cake. Oh, I almost forgot... the hurricains are tasty.

If someone mentions Copland's, they should be punished by being forced to eat there.

The one and only time I went...I ordered jambalaya, which came with a big crab claw. When I asked for a nut-cracker to open it up, I was told that it wasn't meant to be eaten, it was only for display!

MD Canon -- Carnival may not be big in Rochester, but it sure can draw a crowd in Québec City, which I bet is even colder. (Indeed, this year's Carnaval de Québec ended on February 15, well before Ash Wednesday -- no doubt in order to maximize the possibility of frigid weather.)

I'd say Ethel and Ramone's, and would second Mick T Pirate's Whiskey Island operation. Mick is going to do a crawfish boil on the 24th at Pickles.

I would give a very big thumbs down to the Louisiana suggestion though. John Saki served up one of the worst restaurant experiences I have ever been a party to at his restaurant. There was a dining room full of upset Valentine's Day couples, and he sat there and smiled through it. Almost three hours into the madness, we left after only being served soup. His valets overtly looked at my wife in a way that you would expect from a crowd of high rise construction workers, and the hostess laughed at us when our response to "how was your meal?" was a very polite and objective "We'll never know. We have been waiting to find out for three hours, but only had your soup". She proceeded to then drop our coats on the floor. Crazy night! The cab ride home saved it though. The driver just happened to have a head shot handy from when he was in the theater some 40 years ago, and sang songs to us that he had written while driving about 25 mph up 83. It was a great end to a crazy night.

Beignets are okay. Not a fan of chicory coffee though.

But a muffoletto sandwich? mmm...

Ever wonder why the Bayou Cafe is empty when other Avenue restaurants are lined out the door? Eat there once and you will know.

Great Harvest Bread Company in Columbia takes orders every year and they make them to order. I've never had theirs, but it has to be better than the ones sitting around at Giant.

MD Canon, you made me laugh out lout. I did a mental juxtaposition and put a NO Mardu Gras Parade in about 3 feet of snow!

Zevonista - you and I are completely on the same page with Copelands. I was wondering if they are even still in business because no one I know has ever gone back there!

The muffaletto at Trinacria is awesome, even though they serve it on the wrong bread. I've asked them to replace the roll with focaccia and it's great.

Also, Rocket to Venus has a great Jambalaya.

I'd also suggest Metropolitan. They've got some cajun inspired cuisine and usually have Abita in bottles or on tap.

Finally, I think Nick's in Cross Street Market used to steam Crawfish. Not sure if they still do that.

Actually, last year I purchased a King Cake from the Great Harvest Bread Co and took it to a Mardi Gras party at my church. Other folks had brought one or two at the local Columbia Giant. I hate to admit, but, the one from Giant was much, much better!

Okay....Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is the day before Ash Wednesday and culminates THE CARNIVAL SEASON. Even the bars in the French Quarter close at midnight on Mardi Gras. Colleges in N'awlins close Monday through Wednesday (giving students a day to sober up after their Friday to Tuesday revelry). Its Carnival Season, NOT Mardi Gras season.

That occurred to me, too (that we're doing this at the end). But it's just a way of getting some new restaurants on the lists. EL

PCB Rob wrote But a muffoletto sandwich? mmm... I might just have to change my name to mmmmmuffoletto!

I think it's spelled muffaletta, not muffaletto.

I think muffaletto is the plural, isn't it?

There are lots of different "correct" spellings of that sandwich. This is from

How to spell muffoletta
No other word in any language has so many spelling variations, including muffoletto, muffuletta, muffaletta, muffeletta, muffalata, muffaleta, muffalatta, muffalotta, muffaletto. muffelata, muffuletto, muffelatta, muffeleta, muffeletto, muffuleta, muffolette, muffuletti, muffoletta, muffulata, muffulette, muffoleto, muffalette, muffoletti, muffolatta, muffalota, muffaleto, muffalet, muffolata, muffolet, muffeleto, muffulet, muffiletta, muffolotta, muffelette, muffalita, muffelotta, muffulotta, muffalutta, muffaletti and muffelet.

laissez les bon ton roulette! Tom-A-to, tom-ah-to, muffaletta, muffoletto, etc. It's all N'oleans dahlin!

What kind of word has that many correct spellings?

PCB Rob--I had no idea--stunning!

Harry Connick, Jr. wrote laissez les bon ton roulette! Umm, shouldn't that be "laissez les bon temps roulez"?
My French spell-checker may be creaky from lack of use, however.

A word from the Big Easy, dahlin' Bucky.

Not sure Bucky, but its nice to know that all you need to do is take a reasonable stab at spelling it, and it would be right.

"Harry Connick, Jr. wrote laissez les bon ton roulette! Umm, shouldn't that be "laissez les bon temps roulez"?" --

There's French, and then there's Cajun, and there's Creole, too - a whole lot of variation down there in NOLA!

You may find this hard to believe, but
Giant Fodd in White Marsh has King Cakes in the bakery section. At least they did on Monday 2/23.

Atwater's does a great ---- if not exactly authentic --- muffoletta, but unfortunately they offer it only during certain times during the year.

bawlmerbeav, I've had Atwater's muffoletta several times and have never NOT found it on the menu. When does it go away?

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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