Everyday is Mardi Gras at Cajun Queen
Let me preface this by saying that it isn’t very often I have a restaurant experience that I feel immediately compelled to talk about. However, once in awhile there’s that one dish that just makes you want to shout from the rooftop and share it with everyone you know. Unfortunately, this meal wasn’t actually mine…
I had been sitting on a Groupon for Cajun Queen for a few months and for one reason or another it kept getting pushed to the side (as of 5/16/14 there is a current Groupon that I highly recommend snagging). We finally made reservations for a Thursday night, and being a novice to Cajun food, I spent some time reviewing the menu items and gawking at pictures of dishes. Before I even set foot into Cajun Queen that night, I had already set my mind on the 3-way étouffée with crawfish, chicken and shrimp.
Cajun Queen is located on 7th in Elizabeth in a huge single family home, which dates back to the early 1900s. Much of the restaurant retains a nostalgic and homey charm with tables tightly dispersed through the original living room, dining room, rooftop terrace, and sunroom. Physical renovations, including expanded restrooms, a handicap accessible ramp, a New Orleans inspired wrought iron rooftop terrace, and bar, were completed in 2005 when Cajun Queen left Pineville to pioneer an influx of restaurants in the Elizabeth neighborhood.
One step through the doors and you’re immediately transported to a raucous, lively setting reminiscent of 1980’s New Orleans. Tables are tightly packed; patrons share drinks and laughs; and sounds of jazz echo from upstairs. The walls are adorned by “Nawlins” inspired artwork and an appropriate purple, gold and green palette is interwoven throughout the house.
The setting can be quite lively, even on weekdays, especially if you are seated upstairs where they have a local jazz band seven nights a week. Everyday is Mardi Gras at “The Queen.”
The Gumbo was the only thing that I wasn’t impressed with. It had good flavor and an ample helping of shrimp but I felt it was missing something. The consistency was thinner and more watered down than I anticipated, and I found myself missing the Andouille sausage (the menu didn’t mention Andouille sausage). I am, by no means, an expert when it comes to Cajun cuisine so please take my subjective criticisms with a grain of salt.
Now, onto the main event. The boyfriend ordered the pasta special: Two blackened chicken breasts over a heaping portion of tortellini in a spicy pesto cream sauce with peppers, Andouille sausage, peppers, and artichokes. Wow. Like I have already alluded to, this dish was out-of-this world phenomenal. The spicy rub from the chicken perfectly complimented the cream sauce and Andouille sausage – a perfect balance of flavor and heat.
My étouffée was delicious as well, though admittedly, not quite as impressive as the pasta dish. Large portions seemed to be the theme of night and despite force-feeding ourselves to the point of pain, we both managed to leave with decent-sized leftovers.
The camaraderie was contagious. From the hostesses that greeted us at the door to the wait staff and valet, everyone seemed to embrace and share the same joviality that left us wondering why we had waited so long to visit.
Have you ever been to Cajun Queen? In your opinion, how does it compare to other cajun/creole fare you’ve sampled? Let us know if the comments below!