Lady N’awlins Cajun Café, 2329 W. Main St., Richmond
Karisa: I have a former co-worker who LOVES Lady N'awlins. He seriously loves it. Every Monday we'd talk about our weekend adventures over lunch, and more often than not, his weekend took him and his wife to Lady N'awlins. He swears by their oysters and bloody mary's, neither of which we tried, as I'd had a lot of oysters the night before, and Michele was off gallivanting in Chicago. Perhaps another time. We went for a pitcher of mimosa's instead, which although too tart to begin with, turned out to be pretty tasty, with a heavy hand of sparkly.
Perusing the menu, I was disappointed/Kathy was delighted to see that practically everything listed had bacon and/or andouille sausage. The only vegetarian items were sugar filled, which loyal readers (my mom) know I don't care for. Aside from those dishes, the Bourbon St. Barbeque Shrimp and Grits seemed Karisa-friendly, but cost almost twice as much as anything else on the menu. Brunch only comes once a week, so I took the plunge. If I'd been thinking clearly I would have asked if there are other meats in the dish (none were listed on the menu) since traditional shrimp and grits typically contains andouille sausage in the sauce. However I wasn't quite thinking clearly, and after some time was delivered a plate covered in sausage. Ah well, my fault... but come on restaurants... list your meat ingredients. We've got a lot of vegetarians/pescetarians/vegans/define-what-vegetarian-means-to-you-atarians in RVA, help us out!
After watching Kathy eat all the bacon, my dish was exchanged for a sausage-less version. It was worth the wait! The grits were creamy, the shrimp was well cooked, the veggies made me feel healthy, and the cream sauce was sweet in a not unpleasant way. The cornbread was dry and tasteless, but I didn't need that anyway. In the end, the food was really good, but the Lady misfired on too many other aspects to rise above a 3 in our "How would you respond if someone suggests going here?" test.
Kathy: Karisa and I had some, shall we say obstacles, the morning of this brunch. Cars were misplaced, cupcakes nearly forgotten, yet we manged to finally roll in to brunch around 2 pm, like champions. My mood still a bit frazzled, I was disappointed Lady N'awlins had no tea. Like, literally, tea did not not exist there. The atmosphere was quiet and laid back enough, though the restaurant is set down a bit below street level, and I would have liked more sunshine and windows. I'm writing this review a few weeks after our trip there, so I have the benefit of quite a bit of hindsight to say that while the place is cute, and the food good, I haven't thought about it once since we went. Not every brunch locale has to be held to a standard of haunting my heart, soul, and dreams, but Lady N'awlins didn't move me in the way I hoped.
I ordered the andouille and crawfish crepes, because carmelized onions and bacon cream sauce are two foods I would break laws for (serious laws, like the ones that really hold our crazy society together). I also ordered a side of bacon, only moderately worried that bacon cream sauce and a bacon side, when paired together, might creation nuclear fission or time travel or something terrifyingly awesome. I should have prepared better for the bacon side. You know how a side is, like, a smaller plate? Not an entree? I estimated about 7 or more strips of perfect bacon in this side, basically a meal, which delighted me. The bacon was crispy, thin, and not too greasy. The crepe in my entree was not as flaky as I imagined it should be, but the sauce was incredible and there was a bounty of sausage and crawfish.
Food - Very good. All flavors were spot on. Karisa was disappointed that there were no savory vegetarian options on the menu. Seafood lovers and chorizo fiends will be ecstatic.
Service - Good. Our server fulfilled our needs, but didn't do anything extraordinary or go above and beyond to earn a 'very good.' Our only complaint is she set down Karisa's dish with bacon and mentioned reserving it to another patron.
Atmosphere - Good. We liked the chalkboard ceilings, big windows, and flowing curtains, but somehow it just didn't all come together. Overall we felt like they were just trying too hard, and we certainly didn't feel like we were in New Orleans.
Coffee/Tea - Fair/None. The coffee was pretty weak, which Karisa usually likes, but this coffee was see-through. It was also served in a glass mug, which is just a terrible idea. The hot tea was non-existent, as apparently only the staff was drinking tea, much to Kathy's disappointment.
Mimosa - Good. We split a pitcher, which at $11 was quite the deal. Our first sips were pretty tart, but as mimosas do, it got better the more we drank.
Bloody Mary - N/A. Michele was out of town.