It was a beautiful day in New Orleans, the type of day you want to walk around town or go into the French Quarter and enjoy all the sights. I had been to a little restaurant called Li'l Dizzy's before but only for breakfast. When I was there I did enjoy the food, as I remember. I even seem to recall meeting the owner Wayne Baquet, and I always wondered what the food was like the rest of the day. For some reason I hadn't been back... yet.
After I had read their name on a list of someone's favorite gumbos in New Orleans, I decided to find out more about Li'l Dizzy's and see what they're about for lunch. For starters, I found out that they have a buffet on most days. I like this idea. I have always been a fan of buffets since I was a kid. The only problem with buffets is that they are one of two things, they either have a MILLION items on the bar and nothing is good, like it's just emptied out of a can, or they are small and the food is the same as they offer on the menu. With Li'l Dizzy's I found it was the latter. Small buffet, a dozen or so items, and great food. Just like off the menu.
First, let's look at their reviews. I checked them out on several and they got great marks on them especially on their chicken and gumbo. OK, I have been meaning to try out several of the fried chicken places in New Orleans but I haven't gotten around to it. I knew that Dizzy's had good marks on it and luckily they had chicken on the buffet. The chicken coating, (this is how many chickens are compared) was the lighter colored, almost like a Popeye's as opposed to a darker KFC. It also was lighter tasting, pleasant and not at all greasy. The flavor was good, and although it was thoroughly cooked, I will have to say that I like my chicken REALLY, REALLY well done, I did enjoy the piece that I ate.
I thought one of the highlights of the meal was the Creole style White Beans. Seasoned with what looked like bacon and other bits of pork, they were cooked down wonderfully. Reminded me of the white beans my N'Awlins buddy Ralph Fountain used to fix me at his house in Arabi. In addition to the beans, I got some nice red-skinned potatoes with just enough garlic and butter to make me happy. I grabbed a hot sausage off the breakfast end of the buffet to accompany my beans.
They next had a braised pork loin in a spicy au jus, (or debris) right next to some nice savory rice to spoon it over. This plate was getting heavy. I hauled it over to my table next to the window. My waitress brought me some iced tea and some french bread to sop up all the juicy goodnessson my plate. She did this with a smile and a light in her heart. Everyone there seemed happy to work there. I took my time and savored all the food I had gotten, but I had to save room for the next course... GUMMMMBO!
I made my way back over to the bar and using the ladle, swirled the swampy goodness I had observed on my first trip to the steam table. There it was. Reddish crab claws and tiny legs intertwined with several different meats like andouille, ham (or tasso possibly) and some other type of sausage I could not identify, chaurice or chorizo maybe? Maybe not traditional but really good. Then the little shrimp swam up to my ladle and tried their best to jockey up to my bowl. You can see by the picture this gumbo was loaded and nearly perfect.
The flavor was spot on. A nice seafood-ey taste but not overpowering. Not as dark as I make mine, but ideal for this gumbo, somehow. Spice was right on, not too salty or not too hot. As I told Kathy, the lady at the cash register, it was perfect. Possibly the best I'd had in New Orleans, and that's quite a feat. Well, at least you'd think so. With so many of the downtown restaurants serving institutional gumbo, this Li'l Dizzy's gumbo stood out so it's not even fair. I know that many good restaurants downtown, in the Quarter, etc. do make their own, and many are very good. This one is one of the best I've eaten.
I couldn't leave without at least a taste of their bread pudding. Man-oh-man, is it good. The Bourbon sauce or whatever it is sure is awesome. I'm not big on alcohol based sauce or foods, but this one is tasty. I was told it's not alcoholic but like Foster Brooks, it sure does a great imitation. This bread pudding is also some of the best I have had down there. I was truly impressed. I told my delight to Kathy and how much I loved the gumbo. She introduced me to Rosalind, the chef that makes the gumbo, and probably most the rest of the food. Rosalind was a friendly lady who posed for a picture with Kathy, and seemed proud of my compliments on her creation.
I look forward to going back to Li'l Dizzy's someday. If you want to go while in New Orleans, take the Riverfront Trolley up to the end of the French Quarter and get off at the last stop. This is Esplanade, now walk up this interesting, tree-lined, street about seven blocks, cross Rampart, (the top of the Quarter) and go about five to six more streets. On the left you will find Li'l Dizzy's at 1500 Esplanade. Tell them you read about them here at RouxBDoo's Blog.