It is near impossible to find authentic Cajun and Creole food in Los Angeles. So we citizens of the 818 should consider ourselves lucky to have access to the real McCoy every Sunday at the Montrose Harvest Market.
Each week, Chef Gordon Pawlowski, born and raised in New Orleans, pays tribute to his Cajun-cooking father Lenny by serving up fresh, delicious food of the bayou. The prices are fair, the food is lovingly prepared, and the warm smiles are abundant.
Each Sunday the menu comprises certain selections from their catering menu. The week I was there, the offerings were jambalaya, muffuleta, po' boys with catfish, chicken, shrimp or popcorn chicken, and a few extras.
My son chose the blackened chicken po' boy ($7). Gordon warned us that it was hot. The meat is rubbed with special spices and breading and then blackened in a cast-iron skillet. It was absolutely delicious, with its lettuce, tomato and remoulade sauce, but not too spicy for this family. We doused it with both Red Rooster and Trappey's Louisiana Hot Sauce. The French roll it comes on, brought in fresh from the Village Bakery in Atwater, is particularly wonderful.
Another impressive example of bread work is the bun on the muffuleta sandwich. This baby is a foot in diameter so half a sandwich is more than enough ($7 for a half). It's filled with ham, salami, mozzarella, provolone and a beautiful chopped olive spread. I must admit I would've preferred thinner bread and more olives, but it was still a great down-home experience.
The bayou basket ($10) has the skillet-grilled meat of the po' boys alongside their phenomenal crinkle-cut, seasoned fries or jambalaya and the most peanuty peanut coleslaw I've ever had. We tried the mustard catfish. Normally the meat or fish is dipped in buttermilk and then a homemade breading mix before frying. Our catfish had a layer of brown mustard in place of the buttermilk. It was really good — crispy and tangy on the outside, soft and hot on the inside. The oil they use is obviously fresh and apparently trans fat- and cholesterol-free.
It's true there's a lot of fried stuff on the menu, but you just can't leave Lenny g's without having a beignet (pronounced ben-yay) ($3 for three). Little squares of dough that are not too sweet are fried in oil and dusted with powdered sugar. As my daughter so eloquently put it, "doughnuts make you feel sick after you eat them, but these beignets make you feel loved."
You'll know Lenny g's concession stand by its picket fence and yellow umbrella. Keep in mind, you'll have to find a place to sit, but that's part of the fun. Next time I go to the Montrose Harvest Market, I'll be stopping by Lenny g's to see if they're serving up my favorite New Orleans specialties, shrimp Creole and red beans and rice. I'm also eager to try their gumbo and crawfish. But if I have room only for a beignet, then I'll get myself a little taste of Louisiana love.
Lisa Dupuy has been writing about area eating establishments since 2008. She can be reached at LDupuy@aol.com.
What: Lenny g's A Taste of Louisiana
When: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays
Where: Montrose Harvest Market, 2200 Honolulu Ave., Montrose
Prices: Po' boys and other entrees, $7 to $10; sides and drinks, $1 to $3