I rarely, if ever travel past Esplanade, on into the Faubourg Marigny section of New Orleans, although I should more often. Well I climbed on the Riverfront Streetcar and rode to the end of the line which left me off at the end of the French Quarter on Esplanade. My reason for the trip was to try out a restaurant I had read about in a magazine ad from Louisiana Cookin' Magazine.
The Praline Connection is a restaurant, that started as a confectionery, by business partners making pralines. Cecil Kaigler and Curtis Moore opened their first location on Frenchman Street in 1990 and, according to them, the rest has been culinary history.
I arrived about 1:30, just after the lunch rush and was immediately seated. My waitress was a lovely lady named Toya. I considered ordering appetizers since I wanted to try some of their standard dishes. I then noticed the Taste of Soul platter which came with chicken, ribs, catfish, gumbo, jambalaya, collards, cornbread, red beans and rice, finishing off with bread pudding for dessert. Daaayaaamn!
I know, it sounds like a lot but... IT IS!!! It's friggin massive, I had to take MORE than half of it back with me. As you can see in the picture, I got nice cup of gumbo, which tasted great, but I will say, was kind of sparse ingredient-wise, but it was really tasty, so I'll give it a thumbs up anyway!
Then they brought my entrée or entrée group. Everything was hot, fresh, and delicious. The chicken was really good, nice crispy outside and cooked perfectly. The catfish was light and mild tasting, (I hate stinky fish). The ribs were baked nicely with a standard barbecue sauce. Not the way I normally like ribs, but very flavorful anyway. Most people prefer more sauce than I do, and would love these.
The red beans were creamy, and the jambalaya was spicy and moist like I like it. I have to say I really loved the collard greens. They were just like I remember eating them while growing up. I had a piece of cornbread with the meal and for dessert had a warm serving of bread pudding with a praline sauce. The sauce had a slight "bourbony" flavor and really rounded out the bread pudding.
The service was excellent, Toya was a great waitress and was helpful in her food suggestions. I will say I was disappointed the ice tea was a mix or from a can or something. It had that artificial taste that comes with the preservative. Fresh brewed tea is not that hard to manage. If you were raised in the South you expect fresh brewed tea, but this is one of my few criticisms.
A traditional restaurant with great food and reasonable prices. The Taste of Soul platter was just under $20, and can easily feed two people. I found all the menu items very affordable. I am going back soon to try their Etouffée and other items like Gumbo ZHerbes. I highly recommend this place if you are visiting New Orleans or showing friends or tourists around the French Quarter. It's about two blocks off Esplanade, an easy walk from the Streetcar station. Enjoy!