Jason and I have been together now for more than five years; our parents have never met. If it was up to him, it would be perfectly acceptable to have them get together for the first time two days before our wedding. The rest of us thought otherwise.
So after much schedule checking, we and both sets of parents made a date for Edmonton, which we felt was neutral ground between Vancouver, Grande Prairie and Calgary. Then the hand-wringing started: where would we eat?
The task fell to me and Jason and we ran through a list of possibilities but the contenders were too pretentious, too casual, too ethnic, too bland, too crowded, too noisy…
We finally settled on Louisiana Purchase, which was a bold choice because we’ve never eaten there. But the Cajun/Creole menu seemed large and interesting enough for a variety of tastes, and the room comfortable enough for any awkward silences.
Well, I guess we shouldn’t have worried about anything. The first thing Jason’s mum exclaimed as we all sat down was along the lines of ‘It’s about time they’re getting married.’ And my mom agreed. And whaddya know, it was hunky dory from there.
For starters, Jason had half a dozen oysters, which I thought was quite a deal for $10.50 in a land-locked province. They were OK, but nothing like fresh in N.B. His parents had salads (huge and fresh); and my mom had a bouillabaisse ($8.50) crammed with seafood.
I ordered the alligator skewer ($9) that I knew I had to try as soon as I saw it on the online menu. My dad got it too.
It was chewy (in a good way) and tasted like pork. The skewer had a crispy coating with some sort of sweet and spicy glaze which was very nice. I didn’t care for the bed of black bean (slightly hard) and mango (slightly slimy) salsa.
There were lots of things we wanted to try off the menu and fortunately, Louisiana Purchase has a great feature of allowing you to mix and match their entrees.
My herb-breaded crab cake, with a garlic and green onion cream sauce, was dense. It really was too large — and I only got a half order! I paired it with the Louisiana jambalaya which had bits of ham, chicken and smoked sausage.
It was decent but I much preferred the steamboat jambalaya ($21) that my mother ordered. Overflowing with crab claw, jumbo shrimp, mussels, whitefish and spicy Italian sausage, it had a nice fieriness that my rice dish didn’t.
My dad got the BBQ rib combo plate ($20) — smoked mango baby back ribs, Louisiana jambalaya, black bean salsa and a hush puppy — and Jason’s dad had the pasta catahoula ($17) — chicken breast, penne pasta, tomato-herb butter and parmesan. They were too far away and too busy talking politics for me to get a taste but I didn’t hear any complaints from them.
Jason’s mom got a crab cake and seafood sausage combo, while he chose a plate of half tournedos ya-ya and half seafood sausage.
The sausage, listed as a boudin made of salmon, shrimp and crawfish, was interesting to be sure. It had quite a rosemary (I think) overtone and the texture inside was a bit mushy, which I guess can be expected. No one disliked it, but the consensus was that it wasn’t going to displace meat sausages anytime soon.
I really, really loved Jason’s tournedo, a pan-fried medallion of beef tenderloin with mango-chutney and a peppercorn demi-glace. It was soo tender and the flavours worked very well together.
Most of the vegetables that came with the mains were snap peas, cherry tomatoes — and parsnips. The first two were great, the latter, bleah.
A last note, Louisiana Purchase makes its own lemonade, which both mothers seemed to enjoy.
We had excellent service. Our server put up with my dad asking her to take photos of the table twice — it was a busy night — and she conspired with us to keep the bill away from our parents and any potential fighting over it.
I’ve never been to New Orleans et al, so I can’t tell you how authentic the food was. But I can say Louisiana Purchase was a great spot for our special occasion.
Louisiana Purchase, 10320-111 St., Edmonton, (780) 420-6779. Reservations recommended.