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Restaurant Review: A Taste of New Orleans in Columbus at Creole 2 Geaux

January 17, 2023

Article originally published on Columbus Underground, written by Miriam Bowers Abbott

It’s high time to take a trip back to the East Market. In the last year, the former train station has made fertile grounds for culinary exploration, and it continues to introduce new fast-casual operations to the local scene. Arranged in the fashion of the North Market, it offers casual eating opportunities from a host of interesting vendors including the subject du jour: Creole 2 Geaux.

Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole cuisine has never had a particularly strong presence in Columbus. Italian, Mexican, Middle Eastern and Asian niches are all pretty easy to find. Even wings in the tradition of Buffalo, New York are ubiquitous in these parts. But to get some Louisiana flavor around here, you have to plan ahead; it’s not just lurking on every street corner. We’ve got Creole Kitchen; there’s Way Down Yonder and Yat’s…and then there’s Google. (And soon, actually, another Creole 2 Geaux location.)

There’s something unique about Creole and Cajun cooking that make them search-worthy. The culinary vein makes a commitment to several elements: seafood, andouille smoked sausage, and an often fiery flavor that leans a little more towards paprika and pepper than you might find elsewhere.

The essential elements are all abundantly present in the menu at Creole 2 Geaux. That is to say, Creole 2 Geaux is helping address the great local culinary gap.

Bourbon Chicken ($12) makes an obvious starting point. A staple in fast-casual Cajun cuisine, an order here yields firm cubes of chicken in a mildly sweet sauce that partners nicely with the house spicy rice. The latter boasts that distinctly cajun peppery bite, which commands attention as surely as it commands repeated forkfuls. Pairing with plain rice is an option for those who need less excitement, or a compromise with half spicy, half plain rice is also available.

And while Bourbon Chicken is a reasonable starting point, the Deluxe Bowl ($16) is for the serious eater. The deluxe will get you everything – chicken, shrimp and rings of andouille sausage – plus onion and peppers sautéed soft. Combos like that capture the generosity of Louisiana cooking, and it also creates a varied tasting experience wherein each forkful is a little different.

In terms of regional cuisine, a Po’ Boy ($16) is a likely a requirement as well. The curls of plump shrimp are fried with a crackly shell, and they make their nest atop a toasted hoagie roll. The team ties things together with a drizzle of the zesty, New Orleans-style remoulade, lettuce and pickles to punch up the flavor. Make no mistake, though, the end-to-end shrimp is the star and it carries the sandwich. Serviceable fries come on the side.

For something on the fusion front, there’s Jambalaya Mac & Cheese ($12), in which the kitchen takes smoky andouille, chicken and pasta, and teams it with a generous supply of cheese sauce that melds the dish together as a filling, comforting hybrid. (Well, there will be Jambalaya Mac & Cheese – it’s off the menu at East Market for now, but will make an appearance at Creole 2 Geaux’s forthcoming location in the Arena District.)

In fact, venturing deeper into fusion territory, you’ll find (dessert) egg rolls too. Perhaps a bit off-theme, the Blueberry Cheesecake ($4) version makes a fine finisher. Fresh out of the fryer, the brittle shell gives way to a warm explosion of blueberries and cheesecake filling.

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