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Comment Archives: Locations: Restaurants: Creole: 3 Stars

Re: “Chappy's

The ambiance of Chappy's was exactly what I would expect to find in a high end Cajun restaurant located outside of the French Quarter. It was well lit, had a very professional and courteous staff, and has décor of being a high-on-the-hog, off-Bourbon St restaurant. In fact the only thing I would change is a little Jazz or Zydeco playing in the background, and a bigger working area behind the bar and additional bartender for Saturday night(the poor gentleman was very overworked but doing a bang up job). Once seated (make reservations ahead of time), we were greeted by our waiter who gave a good attempt at explaining Cajun cuisine to me, not the best especially when talking to me but good enough for Music City clientèle . We were presented with a very well baked, leavened round bread which was served with four different butters(smoked alligator, strawberry, garlic, and plain) which were all uniquely good. And that is where my love affair with Chappy's ended... Since I have a strong passion about Cajun food I've chosen to evaluate each one individually from here on out. Appetizers: Turtle Soup au Sherry – The soup was very underwhelming and gave very little hint of Cajun seasoning, a common them I found. It was thinner than I expected almost to the point of being a turtle drink rather than turtle soup. The meat gave the very unique taste that it wasn't cleaned properly, most likely the suppliers fault. The bad taste of the turtle meat wasn't overpowering but it was there none the less and will ruin the best of turtle soups. The was no hint of boiled egg in mine, which is essential in turtle soup, and the sherry was just there. Fried green tomatoes – The tomatoes were lightly fried in flour and had a good taste. There was absolutely not even a hint of corn meal or corn flour used which is just faux pas with fried maters. The Hollandaise sauce was good but not worth writing home about. I'll get to the crawfish tail meat in a moment. Entrée: Crawfish Ettouffe - I was so disappointed in this dish that I need to break it down: The crawfish: These were of the Asian variety which tends to have a chalky texture to them. I was disappointed to find that a Chef hailing from New Orleans would not have a solid supplier for American crawfish. This might sound picky but Asian crawfish are not the same and won't bring first timers back to eat them, in fact I didn't finish mine. The rice: This was cooked well but again was not spicy, creole, or even the dirty recipe variety that one would expect in ettouffe or Cajun cuisine. Ettouffe: Meaning smothered. This may have been the only thing done right in this dish as there were plenty of the triad (onion, celery and bell peppers) and in proper proportions. Flavor and roux: These were by far the killers of my love affair with Chappy's. The flavor was completely lacking the “get in your mouth and dance a jig” that Cajun cuisine connoisseurs love. This is not to say that Cajun food should be overpoweringly spicy, it shouldn't but it should have a complex marriage of flavors that make your taste buds whoop and holler. The roux was a light roux and not the dark red variety that should be in an ettouffe, and it was undercooked. Roux: Roux is probably the single hardest and most essential part of Cajun dishes to master. There are two essential rules (more actually, but I'll keep it simple) to making roux. (1) If it smells scorched, throw it out and start over, and (2) The flour must be completely cooked and then removed from heat to stop the cooking process prior to moving forward with it in a dish. It was the second rule that Chappy's failed at. With roux, if the flour is not cooked fully and the cooking process stopped, it can give the dish a chalky texture and even worse leave the consumer very bloated as the flour continues to cook in one's gullet. Both were true here and it made my stroll over to Printer's Alley rather uncomfortable. Overall the dining experience was very good and Chappy's demeanor was that of the quintessential NOLA Chef, very jolly and laid back. But the meal was extraordinarily disappointing to this lover of all food Cajun. The blandness indicated to me that Chappy had left his roots in Louisianna and had given in the the bland pallets of the diners which seem to abound in Music City. Chappy's has great potential but I would like to see more authentic New Orleans flavors up a notch, or three, and hold roux making training for all the staff there. If you want to spend 5-star prices and enjoy Cajun cuisine, then I suggest skipping Chappy's and making the drive to Birmingham and dine at Crazy Cajun's Boiling Pot and you will come away more satisfied.
Rating Detail:
Food: 1
Service: 5
Atmosphere: 5
Value: 2
Overall: 3

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by Joe Bolin on 11/15/2009 at 1:39 PM

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