One of the first nice restaurants I ever dined in was K-Paul’s, the cafe credited with bringing the art of blackening to New Orleans. Back then the restaurant was quite a bit different than it is today. It held about fifty people, the lines to get in stretched down the block and seating was largely communal to feed the crowds.

There was a small grocery upstairs above the cafe where you could buy freshly butchered meats to cook in your home kitchen as well as po boys and meat n 3 style lunches. That part of the business has long since shuttered. At some point Chef Prudhomme realized he was losing a lot of money and his place underwent a renovation to accommodate the popularity. With seating space quadrupled, the lines to get in vanished as at the same time, dozens of new restaurants opened in New Orleans. The effect being that what was once the hottest ticket in town, is now a cafe that’s been lost in the shuffle.

But, lest we forget, there’s a reason K-Paul’s is iconic.

“Bet you can’t wait to get some Cajun food” Anytime I’m talking up a trip to New Orleans somebody always allows as how I’ll be eating high on the Cajun hog. The simple truth is that New Orleans is a Creole city and Cajun food options have always been limited. Paul Prudhomme changed that.

He popularized country gumbo, rabbit, jambalaya served with fried chicken and a host of other rural foods of Louisiana. Therefore, whenever I visit I always vector in on this part of the menu.

While blackened redfish was unknown in Acadiana til Prudhomme invented it, his trailblazing was so successful that the fish was nearly brought to extinction by this newfangled technique and it’s practitioners scattered about the US.

A plate of blackened fish of the day, a basket of house baked bread and a slab of coconut cake doused with chantilly cream is one of the great dining experiences in the city.

K-Paul’s opened up in 1979 and saw land-office business from day one. New Orleans restaurant population has exploded in the thirty plus years since but Prudhomme’s joint is still a worthy place to blow through a bunch of money for a special occasion dinner.

Paul Prudhomme was the first of the celebrity chefs to come out of New Orleans. The Opelousas native presaged the rise of Emeril, John Besh and Donald Link by decades. While his name may have faded from the public conscious his restaurant is still putting out some plates worthy of a visit.

further New Orleans exploration

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