Cafe NOLA – Schenectady, NY
A place I’ve heard a lot about has been Café NOLA in Schenectady (617 Union Street). One Saturday evening, Cassie and I stopped in for some food.
The restaurant touts southern and New Orleans-style cuisine, so it was definitely a place I wanted to check out when I was ready to eat some heavy calories (you have to do that from time to time).
When we arrived (close to 5:30pm), the only other patrons were hanging out at the bar. We were seated at a small table at the front of the restaurant adjacent to the bar in a section that’s usually reserved for performing acts. When the man seated us, he indicated that a band was coming, but that we had time to eat before then.
We decided on a couple of appetizers before our meal. We split fried green beans and hush puppies. Both were served with homemade Remoulade and were priced between $6 and $8.
The fried green beans were not particularly outstanding, but the Remoulade was a good sauce to pair with them. The tang and creaminess as well as the heavy amount of spices (my guess Old Bay) really helped bring some flavor to the green beans.
The hush puppies had very crisp exteriors but were surprisingly moist, and negatively so. The corn batter was seasoned very similarly to the Remoulade, which wasn’t a perfect sauce for the hush puppies.
A salad came with my entree; I chose their homemade blue cheese dressing, which was very good.
My dinner was the Southern Honey Stung Fried Chicken (Lightly battered with our special honey dip. Served with fresh-cut fries and cornbread. $15.99).
At first, two portions of fried catfish (what Cassie ordered) were brought to the table. I had to send mine back because it wasn’t what I ordered. The server came back minutes later with the sides from that plate and told me the chicken would be a few minutes. I decided to send the sides back and asked for fresh sides with the chicken. I didn’t mind waiting the time it was going to take to get the chicken, so I didn’t want to fill up on French fries, corn, and cornbread before even touching the chicken. And I didn’t want to let the sides sit and get cold at the table while I waited for the chicken.
Minutes later, the chicken arrived.
The chicken was moist, but the crust didn’t mesh with my expectations for southern fried chicken. It was coated in something more like beer batter, but it had little seasoning. The honey was a nice touch with the chicken, but I drizzled it over the chicken sparingly.
The sides on the plate were all fresh, which I appreciated. The cornbread was flavorful, the fresh cut fries were crispy, and the corn was juicy.
Around the time the catfish platters arrived at the table, a band started coming in and unloading in the area where we were seated. It got a little distracting, but the people in the band seemed to understand that we were still eating, so I didn’t feel any pressure from them to hurry.
It seems like a fun place to gather with some friends for a good vibe and some music, but the food definitely fell flat for me.
Maybe it’s because the building is haunted?