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“It's not the cajun food I ate in New Oreleans”
Review of Cafe NOLA - CLOSED

Cafe NOLA
Cuisines: Cajun & Creole
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Delivery, Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Delivery, Reservations
Reviewed September 23, 2012

I simply can't undertand what the owners of this restaurant are thinking. It's not Cajun in the sense we mean it and they're in love with their story. They are not doing well and it's not surprising. It's the closest thing to Cajun we have in the area, so if you need some, go here.

Thank Upperny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviews (98)
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77 - 81 of 98 reviews

Reviewed September 22, 2012

We stopped in for lunch on a Saturday afternoon with our 2 kids ( 3yrs and 8 months). They were very helpful in getting us settled with highchairs etc. They even offered to make the kids anything special that they may want. The place was pretty quiet when we arrived. It is a small place and has some additonal seating upstairs. Our server was very friendly and kept our drinks filled and checked on us often to make sure we had everything we needed. We started with the crawfish nachos. We enjoyed them very much. The nachos had quite a bit of crawfish on them but I thought that there would be more etouffee on them. My husband had the French Quater sandwhich. It was very large and had lots of melted cheese on it. It came with their house made potato chips which were excellent. They dust them with a cajun seasoning. I had the blackened chicken sandwhich. It was very good. Had a nice kick to it and was not burnt and dry like many places make them, It also came with the homemade chips. I asked if the menu was the same for lunch and dinner and they said yes. They add daily specials. The day we went the dinner special was a strip steak. I thought this was a great place for lunch and something different then many of the places in the capitol district. They also have soem outdoor dining and parking in the rear of the building. Next time I would like to try their Etouffee .

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Thank JEN M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 25, 2012

Who would have thought you'd find a touch of New Orleans in Schenectady. Although everything was a tad more spicy than I'm used to, the food was good. A nice assortment of New Orleans cuisine.

Thank Runfy2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 6, 2012

This was my second time at Cafe Nola. I enjoy the decor and the waitresses seem nice enough, but the food isn't anything special. I'm a flexitarian, so I prefer not to eat meat, but there isn't enough interesting sounding veggie dishes on the menu for me. The first time I tried the chicken etoufee and I recall it being ok. This past time I Tried the blackened chicken sandwich. While the flavor on the chicken was good, the bun was extremely uninteresting and didn't add anything to the sandwich. I pretty much just took the chicken breast out and just ate that. The truffle fries are unique and good however.
Also, the service was a bit slow. Maybe they were understaffed the night we went.
I would give the restaurant a try, especially if you're a meat eater, but I personally would try another place just because of my veggie tastes and preferences.

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Thank leneyB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 28, 2012

I can't say enough about what is wrong with Schenectady's Café Nola. Louisiana’s two main traditional cuisines– Cajun and Creole– deserve more respect and far better treatment and than they are receiving there. One reviewer mentioned that Café Nola is a beautiful room; another pointed out that they have a nice patio. I agree; both are very nice indeed. One writer had a complaint about the proprietors (chef/owner husband and hostess/waitress wife), but on my visit I found them to be very pleasant and personable. That, however, is where the compliments end.

When someone opens a restaurant featuring the food of a culture, they are, in effect, acting as a representative of that culture. Many of their guests may never get the opportunity to make the trip to Louisiana– that "Cajun" or "Creole" meal in their local restaurant may be as close as they ever get. Like the people who developed them, the dishes of any cuisine are the way they are for a reason; they have been shaped by their history. For a chef– no matter how well educated– to think that he can improve on the work of dozens of generations of grandmothers is a serious mistake. This is where Café Nola’s problem begins. The owner is a trained chef who has decided to do “his take” on such classic Louisiana dishes as gumbo, etouffée, jambalaya, dirty rice and Oysters Bienville. That’s all well and good, but he has no business calling the food “Cajun” or “Creole”; he should call it “Louisiana fusion” or something that warns an unsuspecting diner that what he is about to eat is not the real thing.

Cajun and Creole cooks serve their gumbo with a scoop of plain white rice in it– always; it is the backdrop against which the rich complexity of the gumbo plays. No matter how innovative the chef thinks he is being, the addition of a pile of off-tasting crawfish laden dirty rice to a bowl of gumbo (as is done at Café Nola) is unthinkable– it’s the kind of thing that could get a cook chased out of any town in Louisiana. The dirty rice muddles and competes with what should be an already perfectly spiced dish. As in a number of the dishes I tried at Café Nola, the crawfish tasted “off”– as if it had been thawed and kept around too long.

You may remember the wonderful Mello Joy Café (run by a Cajun chef from Louisiana) that was open briefly on Jay Street in Schenectady a few years ago. Last summer, another great Cajun restaurant, the Sho-Nuff Cajun Country Buffet, appeared in Ballston Spa. Also run by Louisiana Cajuns, the food there was the genuine article– you could taste the family history in every bite. Unfortunately, due to some partnership problems, Sho-Nuff closed after one season. Both restaurants are sorely missed by those of us who love good, genuine, home-style food; what we don’t need in their place is a caricature of a Cajun/Creole eatery. The chef/owner of Café Nola is a well-trained chef from Rhode Island, an area famous for good Portuguese cuisine. Instead of an approximation of a Cajun/Creole restaurant, what this area could really use is a good Portuguese restaurant. In my opinion, that would be a far better use of this chef’s background and education.

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1  Thank crawfishbisque
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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