Mr. Foodie and I have been meaning to review this place ever since we stumbled into it from a street fair following our move from the FL Keys. We were wet from the rain and a jumble of emotions after a hard summer. We were surprised to see a new restaurant in Fairfax town square at all let alone a New Orleans-themed restaurant, the French Quarter Brasserie. The last time I dined at a NOLA restaurant in Fairfax was my senior prom when Coppola’s was still open. The French Quarter Brasserie in Fairfax is largely below grade, making it feel like a basement with window-wells. The interior is not unpleasant thanks to the unique lighting scheme and comfortable layout, but it does feel slightly like a disney-park what with the themed decor.
That first visit we sidled up to the largely empty bar for a cocktail and appetizer since we had just eaten at the street fair. I ordered a Salty Dog and Mr. Foodie had one of their NOLA beers (they only carry NOLA beers, fyi). We ordered the Boudin Balls which are fried rice and pork balls. The flavor was on-point, but they have an odd crunch to them that reminded us of cracked wheat or uncooked rice. I’m honestly not sure if that is how they are supposed to taste, but I was expecting something more akin to arancini.
In any case, since that first visit, the French Quarter Brasserie has opened another location in DC and is planning to open a third in Colorado. We have yet to visit the DC site, but we did go again to the Fairfax location recently with my family to celebrate Mr. Foodie’s birthday. This time we ordered three appetizers, five entrees, and three desserts.
The appetizers consisted of Boudin Balls, Slap Yo Mama Shrimp, and Sausage Bread. The waitress also brought us each a cup of beans and some kind of sausage to try on the house. The Boudin Balls were exactly as we remembered them – good flavor, but a weird crunch. The shrimp were doused in the SYM sauce, but we all enjoyed them. The Sausage Bread was the winner. It reminded us of a calzone with meat and cheese inside the puffed up dough, but it also had a slightly-spicy crawfish sauce topping it.
My entree was the Crawfish Etouffee which consisted of crawfish tails “smothered” in a cajun-spiced roux. I was very much looking forward to this dish, but I will say that I ended up wishing I had ordered the Jumbalaya that my dad had. Perhaps the etouffee was too rich or the roux wasn’t spiced enough, but I only had a few bites before packing it up for leftovers. The corn muffin, on the other hand, was superb.
My dad’s jumbalaya was perfection! The tomato base was round without being overly rich. The little bites of shrimp, sausage, and chicken were heavenly. I highly recommend this dish. I swapped my leftovers just to take a few bites of this beauty home with us.
The pulled pork sliders were fairly standard, but the meat was the star – juicy, well-seasoned, piled high on the larger-than-average slider buns. A good, simple choice that will please most palettes.
Although most of us agreed that dad’s jumbalaya was the entree winner, my mother insisted that her eggplant pasta was the best. I did have more than a few bites, and it was tasty. Of course, I love eggplant. I have yet to find an eggplant dish that I don’t like. It is also nice to see a meat-heavy restaurant create a satisfying vegetarian dish instead of relying on salads or grilled veggie sides.
Last, but not least was Mr. Foodie’s chicken and dirty rice. The chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender and had great flavor. The rice had great flavor, but was rather dry. The best part, according to Mr. Foodie, was the Corn Maque Choux – a kind of corn mash in a pastry shell.
By the time dessert came, we felt done for – so. much. food. But they sang “Happy Birthday” to Mr. Foodie as they delivered his favorite dessert – a slice of pecan pie. I did not try the pie or the bread pudding, but I heard they were tasty. Us girls went in on a plate of beignets. They were fluffy and chewy—as good as any I’ve had in the DC metro area.
Most of the negative customer reviews of the French Quarter Brasserie have to do with the service. While our waitress was prompt, helpful, and mostly accurate, she definitely lacked personality. Anywhere else you might describe the service as unremarkable (in a good way), but in an area like Fairfax, where wait staff tend to be energetic, personable, and memorable, the wait staff at the FQB stand out (in a bad way). Possibly the “A” team is up at their new DC location, and a new business always suffers from a few growing pains.
Our general take-away:
Food is 4/5 stars (with some room for improvement, but well worth a visit)
Drinks has 4/5 stars (good, but drowning a premium vodka in too much juice is just sad)
Service is 3/5 stars (unremarkable at best)