Toward the end of last year, I won a gift certificate for J. Gumbo’s from the Food Hussy. Since it could only be redeemed at the Fairfield location, it took me nearly half a year to finally give it a try. Coincidentally my brother had purchased the same certificate from eversave, so we decided to all give it a try together.
Unlike other J. Gumbo’s locations, this one is not counter service and upon entering the front door I was told that I could sit wherever I liked. I attempted to grab a seat in a nearby booth, but my one and a half year old son decided he would rather be outside. He was immediately drawn to the set of cornhole boards outside, so we played around with those waiting for my brother and his girlfriend to arrive.
After their arrival we all sat down at an outside table and looked over the lengthy menu of Cajun styled bowls which are served over a bed of rice. My brother ordered the crawfish cheese dip appetizer ($5.50) while we continued to look through the menus. With thirteen different bowls available, we wanted to be sure to get a good variety. The appetizer arrived quickly, and though I didn’t sample any I was told that there was not a lot of crawfish in it, it was mostly a cheese based dip.
Since my certificate was good for $13 I decided to order two different bowls, hoping that my son would eat some of the food and that I would have enough to take home for lunch the next day. I decided to order the red beans & rice for him to try – slow cooked red beans with yellow onion, smoked sausage and Cajun spices ($6.99). Despite being a little dry, the dish was actually quite good. The sausage was thick sliced and the flavor was not too spicy. The serving was large enough that even after a few bites from the bowl, there was still enough for a full lunch for me and a couple of small lunches for my son.
For my dinner I went with the chicken red hot – tender chicken slow cooked with garlic, red onion and celery in a tangy Cajun Buffalo style sauce and topped with bleu cheese crumbles ($7.29). This was given a 3 out of 4 rating on their spiciness scale and it was definitely hot! There is only one bowl with a higher rating, the voodoo chicken, and I wonder if that would be much too hot for most people. The chicken red hot was filled with plenty of chicken (though not all of it was white meat) and the flavor was good. There was definitely a lot more buffalo seasoning than Cajun, so keep that in mind if you are looking for more authentic flavors.
I also had small bites of my brother and his girlfriend’s two dishes. The bourbon street chicken – tender chicken slow cooked in a lightly sweet butter-hoisin sauce ($7.29) – was by far the least spicy of the bunch, and had a pleasant sweet flavor to it. It could have used a little more sauce, as the rice below the chicken was pretty dry. The drunken chicken – tender chicken with garlic, olive oil, stewed tomatoes and Cajun spices slow-cooked with beer ($7.29) – was on the spicy side of things. This dish seemed a little more authentic tasting than the chicken red hot, so I think I would go with the drunken chicken on a future visit.
Overall the food was good and the prices are affordable. I would likely return if it weren’t so far from home. Perhaps I’ll try one of the franchise’s other locations, either downtown or Clifton.