My friend Sandy and I are huge fans of Cajun food, so when she saw a new restaurant, J. Gumbo’s, open in her Pleasure Ridge Park neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky, we knew we had to try it. I have since learned that J. Gumbo’s has seven locations in the Louisville area. The one we tried is located at 6661 Dixie Highway, near Lowe’s and the Dixie Manor shopping center. Cajun restaurants in Louisville are few and far between, adding to our desire to try this one.
The restaurant is small and is located in a strip mall. There were only two other customers in the place when we entered, but it was at an off time for meals, 2:00 on a Saturday afternoon. Everything appeared to be very clean.
The menu at J. Gumbo’s is limited. There are about a dozen entrees from which to choose, plus a couple of appetizers and a few desserts. The dessert menu must change regularly, since it was posted on a chalkboard rather than on a permanently fixed sign. The prices are very affordable; no entrée cost more than $5.99. Cajun mainstays such as jambalaya, red beans and rice, etouffee, and gumbo form the bulk of the menu. Sandy ordered the white chili, while I settled on the crawfish etouffee.
While we waited for our food, I noticed how dark the interior of the restaurant appeared to be, despite having windows along its entire front. Artificial lighting was minimal, and the glare of the sunlight through the windows made it difficult to see the picture on the two flat panel televisions mounted in opposite corners of the dining area. Moving to a different table did not help. I will have to visit one of the other J. Gumbo’s locations to see if this is a chain wide problem.
Our food arrived after about five minutes. Both Sandy’s white chili and my crawfish etouffee were in large, deep bowls with plenty of rice and a piece of crusty garlic bread on the side. Both entrees were steaming hot. After my first taste, I liberally poured on one of the three hot sauces available on our table. The etouffee had a good flavor, but was not nearly spicy enough for my liking. Sandy’s white chili was tasty, seasoned to suit her, and was quite unlike any white chili she had ever had. After a few bites, we both realized that a few of the grains of rice in our dishes had not cooked completely. We ended up having to dig rice grains out of our teeth. The garlic bread had a good flavor, but it was cold and a little greasy.
Overall, I will probably try J. Gumbo’s again because of its menu selections and good prices. I would like to try one of the other restaurant locations to see if the problems we had with uncooked rice and sunlight glare were a fluke or limited to the Dixie Highway location. There were other items on the menu, particularly the Black and Bleu dip appetizer, that I would like to try. Give this place a chance, but beware of crunchy rice.