Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
lafcadio

Jacques-Imo's NYC

Recommended Posts

I had a fine meal at Jacques-Imo's last night. It seems to me the restaurant is accomplishing what it set out to do. With the Jacques-Imo's brand as a marketing tool, it would have been possible to open Jacques-Imo's New York as a New Orleans theme restaurant in Times Square or on 57th Street. But that wouldn't have been in keeping with the spirit of the place. Creating Jacques-Imo's New York as a neighborhood restaurant in a residential area of the city helps capture a sense of community bonhomie that feels right for the style of food and the whole sense of the place. It feels honest.

It was to be expected that a gaggle of media and curiosity-seekers would descend upon the place early, but now Jacques-Imo's has settled into a groove. Most of the people in there are probably local, they're there just to have a good time, and the main attraction isn't cuisine meant to be analyzed by gourmets but, rather, lusty Cajun-Creole flavors presented with contagious enthusiasm and a certain degree of self-satire.

There were some real highlights. The garlic-laced corn muffins are emblematic of the joint. They're one of the best breadbasket items I've ever had, anywhere, including restaurants with a whole lot of stars, and yet they wouldn't feel right in an haute cuisine restaurant. The rules for haute cuisine have relaxed in recent decades, but they still probably wouldn't accommodate corn muffins heavy on the garlic. Likewise, I don't know of a better specimen of fried chicken being served in a New York restaurant – mine was right up there with the best I've tried around town.

Something may strike you as similar about the two best dishes I had at Jacques-Imo's: they're not particularly indicative of New Orleans, but are more generally Southern in feel. The other best thing I tried -- the fried green tomatoes -- followed the same pattern. The actual Cajun-Creole items I tried -- such as the jambalaya, the maque choux, and the gumbo -- were tasty enough but hardly inspiring. The poor spinach salad that comes with every meal is inexplicable. The one dessert I tried -- the bread pudding -- was about as weak as it could have been.

Should it have been reviewed by the New York Times? The more appropriate move, I think, would have been to cover it in the “Diner's Journal.”


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jacques-Imo's is in the process of opening a kiosk up in the Food Hall at Grand Central Terminal. They're calling it Jacques-Imo's to geaux. It looks like it will be opening fairly shortly.


"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Paid my second visit to Jacques-Imo's today for brunch. The food was mediocre at best. I had a bowl of gumbo that was not nearly as good as a bowl had at Houston's (an uspcale chain restaurant) in Atlanta last week. Too thin in consistency and no okra in sight. I also had a side of Jumbalaya which was far too salty with tomatoes that had been cooked down to the point of tasting like they were sun-dried. I expected better on these creole basics.

The service was very friendly and the live dixieland band added a nice element to the casual and fun ambience. I'd say that this place is more of a neighborhood eatery than a destination of any sort for NYC diners. I'm disappointed that it's not putting out more exciting food. I love New Orleans/Creole cuisine and was hoping Jacques-Imo's would finally bring the real deal to NYC.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went to Jacques-Imo's NYC Saturday night. Hoo, what a ruckus! If you're going on a weekend night, I would suggest being in one of those large parties. The rest of us were just ducking the noisy. I am definitely not in love with the bar-waiting arrangement. It's way too in-the-middle-of-the-room and close to the tables.

I am grateful for the Abita Amber recommendation but ugh, that bloody mary is way over-rated. Maybe it was just that day's mix but I prefer mine balanced and not dominated by one or two flavors, say tobasco and worcestershire. The vegetable party on the top didn't bother me but it did really impress my neighbors.

The Alligator sausage cheesecake has been touted for years by my friends and for good reason! I didn't expect it to be so tomatoey and spicy (not when it says "cheesecake") but that was what was so great about it. Well, all of it was great. My friend kept telling me it reminded her of meatloaf and I told her that her mom must've been feeding her some depression-era recipe because no meatloaf should have that much bread in it.

She insisted on getting fried oysters to start so I didn't get to try the tomatoes. She told me that it's common in the South to fry your oysters super-crunchy but that was not to my taste. It's like serving a burger on a toasted baguette – there's way too much contrast between the textures and by the time I've worked my way to the inside, it's just not enjoyable anymore.

For an entree I ordered the grilled amberjack, which I liked. I was thinking the artichoke-mushroom sauce was going to be really over the top, sort of Todd English goes to NOLA. But the dish was actually quite subtle and complementary so I was pleasantly surprised.

I sort of feel bad saying this but I just really don't get the whole creole roux thing. My friend loved her crawfish etoufee and I just went, "eh". I also didn't dig the corn macquechoux - why would I want my corn to taste like roux? What a bummer. I hadn't realized that's what macquechoux was or I wouldn't have ordered it.

After re-reading this thread I really wish I had room for dessert! Well, maybe next time. I agree that this is good for what it is, a fun, neighborhood place. Lucky, lucky neighborhood.


To hell with poverty! We'll get drunk on cheap wine - Gang of Four

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree that this is good for what it is, a fun, neighborhood place.  Lucky, lucky neighborhood.

I seriously doubt that Jacques-Imo's was intended to be a neighborhood place, as that term is usually understood. For a restaurant of this type, if that's what it is, it practically defines failure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree that this is good for what it is, a fun, neighborhood place.  Lucky, lucky neighborhood.

I seriously doubt that Jacques-Imo's was intended to be a neighborhood place, as that term is usually understood. For a restaurant of this type, if that's what it is, it practically defines failure.

Oakapple, I'm not sure I understand your definition of a neighborhood place, or why that's a bad thing. There are hundreds if not thousands of achingly mediocre restaurants in NYC that have survived for decades. It's true that they may not all be paying the high rent that Jack et al. are paying. But that's because they opened their restaurant in a relatively wealthy neighborhood that is also a destination neighborhood for a lot of partiers on the weekends. Oh, and one that is famous for having achingly mediocre restaurants (although that is changing more and more).

Even if Jacques-Imo's NYC didn't attract the cultists and the curious, it would still succeed. Only the owners would merely become filthy rich instead of filthy stinking rich. You business owners feel free to correct me on that one. But have I explained myself, o, or have I misunderstood you?

I forgot to add earlier that both my friend and I thought our moms made better cornbread. Maybe it's cause he bakes it in muffin tins? It might just be the batter. Sorry, Jack.


To hell with poverty! We'll get drunk on cheap wine - Gang of Four

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree that this is good for what it is, a fun, neighborhood place.  Lucky, lucky neighborhood.

I seriously doubt that Jacques-Imo's was intended to be a neighborhood place, as that term is usually understood. For a restaurant of this type, if that's what it is, it practically defines failure.

Oakapple, I'm not sure I understand your definition of a neighborhood place, or why that's a bad thing. There are hundreds if not thousands of achingly mediocre restaurants in NYC that have survived for decades.

There's nothing wrong with being a neighborhood place, and as you correctly note, there are thousands of restaurants that aspire to no more than that. However, as typically used on eGullet, the term is nearly always mildly condescending. It suggests a restaurant that makes its living by not aspiring to very much. Jacques Imo is a nationally recognized "name brand" in the authentic New Orleans-style cuisine that New York doesn't offer in abundance. I am quite certain that the restaurant was designed to be a NYC destination for those seeking a bit of New Orleans without having to travel south. If it's no more than a convenient drop-in for neighborhood, Jacques-Imo's won't have achieved that objective. Perhaps it will settle in and survive at the lower standard we're talking about. However, I suspect the operating expenses and capital investment most likely presumed that the restaurant would be more successful than that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stopped by today for lunch. I was seated at the bar and asked if could start with a "Jacques-Imo's Famous Iced Coffee" touted on the menu. The waitress looked at me, said curtly "I don't know how to make that", and walked away. I sat at the bar for ten more minutes and was never offered another drink or a menu. There was no bartender in sight, though plenty of servers rushing around. Finally, I gave up and walked out. My last visit had very poor/erratic service as well. I'm not sure I'll bother with Jacques-Imo's again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just got back from going to Jacques-Imo's on the UWS. Had a really good lunch there... I was happy to see that they have all you can eat crawfish on sunday's starting at 6pm.. They also sell crawfish by the pound on Wednesday nights.. They have a great kids menu, infact kids under eight eat free, get free refills too..

They start by bringing out great super buttery corn muffins.. Great in crystal hot sauce..

gallery_15057_181_467876.jpg

We then split a tamale for an appetizer.. This was outstanding, it was a tamale with crawfish, lots of roasted corn, smokey ham, all in a creamy orange sauce.. Excellent, one of the better tamales i have had..

gallery_15057_181_28613.jpg

I then ordered an oyster po boy, do to Jason Perlows posting in Louisianna boards.. Although the bread was right on, the rest of the sandwich was just ok.. The oyster fried well, but it was lacking in quantity.. Also the sauce was rather sparse.. It was still better then not having one.. The fries there are great..

gallery_15057_181_883738.jpg

My dinning companion ordered the Eggs Jacques-Imo.. This was two poached eggs served with spinach, hollandiase sauce, and six fried oysters covered with melted brie. THis was really good.. However, they over poached the egg and the yolks were solid.. If they eggs were a little less cooked the dish would have been perfect.. However, it was still very good..

gallery_15057_181_243553.jpg

We also had several bloody mary's.. I really like these.. Served with pickled vegetables and a shrimp.. What could be wrong..

gallery_15057_181_900347.jpg

our server was extremely nice and accomodating.. Even if he was a little slow.. But we were certainly in no hurry.. I wish i wasnt leaving tomorrow, otherwise i would go back for the all you can eat crawfish at 18.95... I also think they might have two dollar buds then..

edit to add: Does anyone know where they get the bread for the Po Boys from..


Edited by Daniel (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...