A taste of Cajun country in Los Alamos

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In a state where local fare consists of staples such as enchiladas, tacos and green chile cheeseburgers, it’s often hard to find a restaurant that offers something different. Sometimes a green chile cheeseburger, or breakfast burrito sounds good and other times, you might crave something that will make your taste buds take notice.
Creole Nouvelle, located in the VFW building where Mi Casita Mexican restaurant used to be, can definitely help break the humdrum culinary cycle Los Alamosians tend to fall into. With Cajun and Creole dishes on the menu, this eatery is anything but ordinary. This location has seen a few restaurants come and go, but hopefully this one will have longevity.
After hearing about this place from a few people who sang its praises, a lunch trip was in order to see what all the hype was about. It was a little after 11:30 a.m. on a Thursday and the place had a few occupied tables, but all that changed once noon hit — the place was packed. The dining room is small, but it was clean.
The menu items looked appetizing with offerings like Gumbo and salad; Po’ Boy sandwiches and red beans and rice with andouille sausage, it was hard to choose. Finally, a shrimp Po’ Boy and a bowl of red beans and rice was ordered. It was a delight to see both regular and sweet iced tea offered, as well. It’s not often that one can get sweet tea in New Mexico and when it is on the menu, it’s usually not very good.
The food was brought to the table quickly. The Po’ Boy was large and stuffed with shrimp, lettuce and tomatoes. The French bread was brushed lightly with garlic aioli. At first the sandwich appeared dry, but once it was bitten into, that assumption changed. Just the right amount of garlic aioli was put on the bread. Any more and it would have overpowered the flavor of the shrimp, but it complemented the shrimp nicely. The shrimp were lightly battered and fried, but not greasy. They were also a decent size. Often times when one orders a dish with shrimp, the tiny ones are served, but not at Creole Nouvelle. The seasoning was a bit spicy, but not so much that you felt as if your face was melting. Instead, the spice was subtle.
The sandwich was ordered with French fries ($1 extra), instead of the coleslaw or spicy Cajun pasta salad that’s offered. The fries were nice and crisp, but the standard frozen variety.
The bowl of red beans and andouille sausage smelled divine and tasted just as good. The dish was not overly spicy or salty and the sausage had a nice, smoky flavor, which woke up the taste buds with each bite. The beans are topped with onions — something that could probably be left off when ordering. The dish came with a piece of corn bread that was baked to perfection. It wasn’t dry, it wasn’t greasy or salty. The flavor was good and is bound to convert those who think they don’t like cornbread.
The sweet tea was just as good as any sweet tea made in the South. It wasn’t overly sweet, but it wasn’t lacking sweetness either — it was just right and refreshing on a warm day.
There are a few desserts offered as well. The strawberry shortcake was too tempting to pass up and is enough for two to share. Usually the dish consists of a piece of angel food cake topped with vanilla ice cream and strawberries, along with some whipped cream, but Creole Nouvelle doesn’t do it that way.
Instead, they serve the standard strawberry concoction on top of what appeared to be a homemade biscuit, with whipped cream inside and on top of the dessert. The biscuit was flaky and melted in your mouth. The strawberries had just the right amount of sweetness and the whipped cream complemented it all nicely.
A return trip is definitely in order — perhaps this time for breakfast. Those in the mood for Eggs Benedict, omelets, or biscuits and gravy can find it at Creole Nouvelle. They also serve grits, French toast and breakfast burritos.
The service is quick and the waitress was friendly — checking her tables frequently and filling up glasses. The prices are decent, as the tab for two came out to $27.74 with tax, before tip.