1109 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA 70116
Neighborhood: French Quarter
I’m a little sad that I didn’t fully do my research before coming to Nola. We booked the tickets about a month ago on a whim because we all just wanted to go somewhere. I sort of forgot about the trip until the weekend came up, which for the non-planners in the world, is perfectly great! For the planners in the world, myself, I felt lost and slightly stressed out about not knowing what we were going to do and eat everyday. Luckily, we had phones and the Yelp app. Luckily, G.B. knew he wanted jambalaya for his last meal in Nola. Luckily, LAW is very good at Googling and filtering for the best jambalaya in French Quarter area. Coop’s Place is a gritty restaurant close to Café Du Monde (where everyone gets their beignets) serves up all the best of Nola.
I started with the seafood gumbo, which came with my taste plate (second last photo). Unlike other gumbos I had earlier, this one was lighter, less thick, and way more spicy. It was a great tantalizing soup to get my tastebuds craving for more food.
We shared the Fried Oysters served with cocktail sauce and lemon ($9.50) as a starter. BEST FRIED OYSTERS I’VE EVER HAD. I normally never opt for fried oysters because I always felt that the friedness completely overpowers the natural sweetness and umami flavor from the raw oyster. They didn’t have raw oysters on the menu so I had to go with these. Best choice of my life.
Restaurants-who-fry-oysters, listen up. The oyster should still be raw inside the fried batter! It has to be flash-fried so quickly so that the oyster doesn’t cook. The batter has to be super crispy and light so that it doesn’t overpower the oyster. This perfect specimen here maintains the deliciousness of a raw oyster and is further complimented by a thin layer of crispiness. So damn good. E.C. and I were its biggest fans. We ordered another portion before even finishing the first plate.
We also shared the Crabmeat Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers with creamy horseradish dipping sauce ($8.25). E.C. was a huge fan of these. Me, less so. The crabmeat was overpowered by a mushy cheese and the peppers were not spicy at all. It was fried though. And anything fried served with horseradish sauce ends up tasting just fine.
I got the Coop’s Taste Plate, which included a cup of Seafood Gumbo, Shrimp Creole, Cajun Fried Chicken, Red Beans & Rice with Sausage, and Rabbit & Sausage Jambalaya ($12.95). The plate is a good choice for cajun food n00bs like me who havejust had very little exposure to this kind of food.
- Gumbo, as mentioned, was great. Reminded me almost of a Chinese peppered soup. Shrimp Creole was tasty but lacked shrimp. It was mostly okra.
- Cajun Fried Chicken was a fantastic regular fried chicken. Juicy but no distinct cajun flavors.
- Red Beans & Rice with Sausage was really, really interesting. The sausage was pulled apart into a fine pulled pork but maintained a great smokiness. That mixed with the beans and rice was a delicious filling combo.
- Rabbit & Sausage Jambalaya is one of Coop’s most famous dishes on the menu. Because I came knowing that, I left disappointed with the rice. The jambalaya was really mushy (to the point where you can’t identify individual rice kernels) and lacked flavor. Luckily, the plate came with the creole and beans, which helped flavor the jambalaya. G.B. loved the jambalaya so it must just be a preferential thing. I tend to like the dry fried kind of rice. Like Japanese fried rice.
LAW got the Pasta Jambalaya with shrimp, smoked sausage, and tasso in olive oil sauce flavored with Creole Sauce ($8.95). So glad he got this because it was my second favorite part of the meal. The noodles were al dente enough. The sauce was bursting with flavor from the tomato based creole sauce. The shrimp was so fresh and cooked perfectly: a second too short on the heat would result in raw shrimp, a second too long would’ve killed it. Tasso is a specialty ham of south Louisiana cuisine. Wiki says it is a “spicy, peppery version of smoked pork made from the shoulder butt.” Coop’s makes it own and does a fantastic job.
Whoever goes to Nola and wants a great, no frills meal of all the classics, go to Coop’s!