Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ernest's Orleans Restaurant

So my trip through the confederacy is over.  It was a long drive through dixie with none but Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling as company.  I'll try over the next few days to relate some other adventures along the way, but here is the first.

On the second day the road took me through Shreveport, LA.  Having never been to Louisiana I was eager to try some bayou food.  I exited Interstate 20 in what I figured was downtown Shreveport and my search began.  I stopped at a gas station and asked the attendant where a good restaurant was, she told me to go to a nearby casino and look around at the "Louisiana Boardwalk."  I found the board walk, which is anchored by a "Bass Pro Shops."  The food there looked like typical corporate, touristy garbage, so I took off again.  My GPS pointed me to "Ernest's Orleans Restaurant
."  I was getting hungry and I had already driven around Shreveport too much so I followed its prompts.

From the outside Earnest's looked like exactly what I wanted.  A steel building with limited parking in a dirt lot.  It looked a little run down from the outside, so I figured out that I had found a perfect local place.  After parking I noticed a white 1980s or early 90s, but well kept Cadillac limousine sitting under an awning in front of the entrance.  I was wearing my road clothes and was in need of a shave.

When I opened the door and stepped in I immediately felt like I'd come to the wrong place.  I stood in a dark hallway with gold and white wall paper, and gold and white linoleum tile.  Awards and newspaper articles adorned the walls these contributed to the baroque, gawdy tackiness that was just understated enough to be serious.  A maitre' d greeted me from a little table at the end of the hallway.  I told him that I felt underdressed and that I was just looking for some good cajun food.  He assured me that I was dressed just fine, and that they had the best cajun food in all of Shreveport.  (I realize that Shreveport is not the best place for Cajun food, but it is much better than my hometown.)  I apprehensively asked to see a menu.  The food was expensive, but I was hungry and in a hurry.   I asked for a table.

The Maitre' d, who wore a black suit with a vest but no tie, showed me to a table in the bar and begged my patience as the place wasn't quite opened.  I was the only customer there, but several staff were lounging at the bar.  As I took my seat and looked around I felt like an extra in a Wes Anderson movie.  Everything was top of the line twenty years ago.  It didn't feel like a theme bar, those places are always over the top.  It felt like they hired the most tasteful of decorators and spared no expense a long time ago, and then did nothing to update the look. One wall was adorned with mirror tiles speckled with harvest gold, just like the ones in my parent's dining room until I was in high school.  I do not mention a specific time period because the motif did not belong to a certain era.  It really did look like something out of The Royal Tenenbaums.  

When I sat down several waiters jumped up and finished putting on there uniforms, which were similar to that of the Maitre' d.  My waiter handed me a menu and served me a Dr. Pepper.   I really felt that I had missed out on the experience by not getting a cocktail, but I had a few more miles to go that day, and wanted no sleepiness.  I ordered the seafood gumbo.  While I waited for my food. the other waiters prepared the room for the evening.  I think that I might have had gumbo only one other time in my life so I really have no way of telling good gumbo from bad.

The gumbo was not all that good.  It was served in a huge bowl.  The shrimp and the crab was a little overcooked and I had to put a lot of tabasco in it to make it more tasty.  The sausage seemed a little mushy, and the rice was overcooked.  In Ernest's defense I was the very first customer of the day and was probably served Gumbo from the previous night.  The entree' came with a delicious garlic bread which I only ate a portion of.  Eventually I took up a conversation with some of the waiters, who were surprised that I wasn't Cajun.

While the main entree was a little lacking, the rest of the food was delicious, and the atmosphere was truly unique.  The service was superb and I really felt like they went out of there way to give me a very pleasurable experience in Shreveport.  If you are ever there I would highly recommend Ernest's.  Tell them that you're from out of town.