A Delectable Dining Guide to Ethnic Food in Delaware • Cajun/Creole Restaurants
Kick lunch or dinner up a notch.
Jambalaya from Po'Boys Creole & Fresh Catch//Photo by Steve Legato
FROM LOUISIANA, WITH LOVE
Always in demand, but never in sufficient supply, the cuisine has inspired some of the state’s most-anticipated openings recently. After years of overplayed trends, diners may at last be giving in to a renewed urge for exploration, for some surprise and some sass.
At Po’Boys Creole & Fresh Catch in Milton, that brassy attitude is served up in steaming bowls of jambalaya and gumbo, in po-boy sandwiches stuffed with shrimp and oysters, and in a south-of-the-Mason-Dixon charm that meanders through it all.
“It’s definitely a Southern thing,” says owner-chef Mike Clampitt. “It’s not just about the food. It’s about the experience and the feeling that you’re welcomed.”
When he took over four years ago, Clampitt knew he’d be wise not to change direction amid Po’Boys' still-rising reputation, but also realized he still faced some challenges in wooing cautious diners to the ways of the bayou.
“First and foremost, people think that Cajun and Creole is all spicy, that it’s gonna blow your head off your shoulders, which is farthest from the truth,” he says. “I’m trying to educate the community and the foodies that it’s totally opposite. The cuisine is actually full of flavor.”
What sets Louisiana cooking apart is its honest character, its slow cooking techniques, and its reliance on fresh, true-to-region ingredients. “We use the best ingredients. We don’t chintz on any of that," Clampitt says. "We get the crawfish from Louisiana, the catfish from North Carolina, the alligator from Florida. Beignets we make in house with yeast, and we even use lard in the pie crust. We just do it like it's supposed to be done.”
Maybe the simplest way to tell the difference is this: Creole cuisine is city cooking—luxurious and refined, more French, and more inclined to cream, butter, seafood and tomatoes. Cajun is from the country, based on the holy trinity of onion, celery and bell peppers, more likely to have the sass of cayenne. Either way, we’re in love.
Fans swooned when they heard this hot spot in Booth’s Corner Farmers Market was settling on Philadelphia Pike, giving them a nearby outlet to indulge in Kate’s catfish fingers ($10), crawfish pie ($6) and gumbo of the day ($7-$16).
722 Philadelphia Pike, Wilmington, 416-5108 • website
North Quarter Creole
North Quarter works on spinning creative riffs on creole cooking. The result is fun moments such as blackened catfish tacos ($10), crab mac-and-cheese ($12) and smoked wings with barbecue sauce ($10).
837 N. Union St., Wilmington, 691-7890 • website
Nora Lee’s French Quarter Bistro
Oddly, Nora Lee’s vintage, voodoo-esqe vibe seems to suit Colonial New Castle, giving a sense of fun through a far-ranging, totally alluring menu of spicy attractions.
124 Delaware St., New Castle, 322-7675 • website
Po’Boys Creole & Fresh Catch
Next to Dogfish Head Brewery, it's probably the most popular attraction in Milton, thanks to earnest efforts to capture the irresistible excess of Louisiana classics. The buttermilk biscuits are heavenly. The buzz: The Zydeco Plate: gumbo, crawfish etouffée, red beans and rice ($21).
900 Palmer St., Unit B, Milton, 684-0890 • website
Saint George’s Country Store
Insiders know where to go: In the shadow of St. Georges bridge, in a corner store that turns out fairly priced, amazing jambalaya, shrimp creole and muffaletta sandwiches. Alligator po’ boy, anyone?
1 Delaware St., Saint Georges, 836-8202 • website