Mystery Diner: Jambalaya serves tasty N’awlins fare

ST. CHARLES – Located at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, the restaurant Jambalaya bills itself as offering the tastes and nightlife of New Orleans. Though I’ve never been to “The Big Easy,” I’m familiar with the famed food from the area, and I was eager to sample some of the flavor.

Jambalaya offered affordable fare, with menu selections that certainly delivered on the promised experience, at least the best it could on a chilly February day. And I knew I would have to go for some signature dishes – a small bowl of gumbo, and an Atlantic Whitefish Po’ Boy” Both are listed among the house specialties.

Both dishes were big on taste, with portion sizes that left me full and satisfied.

I chose the small bowl of gumbo, which included shrimp, crawfish, andouille sausage and steamed rice. The rice poked out above the bowl, and the first taste was warm and dominated by the rice. The next few bites were filled with seafood, and each spoonful provided a slightly different take. I’m a big fan of shrimp, so I knew that would be my favorite feature, but the sausage had the expected spice and the crawfish was tasty, too. It had a good kick to it, which is especially welcome as we navigate through so many below-freezing days. Unless you’re really hungry, stick with the small bowl, as it was more than enough. And I still had the main course to come.

The Atlantic Whitefish Po’ Boy featured three thick fish pieces sitting atop a bed of what was called creole slaw, along with tomatoes. The pieces were surrounded by grilled French bread and accompanied by a just-enough smattering of curly fries.

The sandwich was spicy, but there was less of a kick here than there was with the gumbo. The fish had been cooked just right, and there was more than enough of it. It held together nicely, and even with three separate pieces of fish, the sandwich didn’t break. There were other choices on the po’ boy menu as well, including pulled pork, crab cake and crispy spicy chicken.

I didn’t opt for the signature jambalaya, though that promised to be a meal itself, with a lunchtime price of $16.50, which would have been less than the combined price of the gumbo and the po’ boy. Most po’ boys had a lunch price of $11, with the crab cake option at $12.50.

I dined with a friend, who chose the VooDoo Burger, part of a colorfully named burger menu, which included the Mardi Gras Burger (pulled pork, smoked gouda and onion strings) and the Fatty Patty’s Burger (double patty, with bacon, avocado, grilled onions and mushrooms on a pretzel roll). Most burgers were $11, but the Fatty Patty’s was $15.

The service was solid, even though we arrived only minutes before the end of the lunch service time – which is 2 p.m. The place wasn’t full, but it was active even at that time, and it’s likely the place comes to life at certain hours, depending on what is going on at Pheasant Run. Jambalaya has New Orleans-themed decor, and it had big, comfy-looking booths, with tables set up in between. There was plenty of space. The bar area includes a few small TVs, which were showing news and sports programming.

A visit to Pheasant Run’s website shows that Jambalaya also offers live entertainment, with bands on some Saturday nights and a DJ, dance party and karaoke on Friday nights. Also, the trip to Jambalaya takes you through a bit of the entertainment side of Pheasant Run, past Zanies Comedy Club. If you’re headed to Pheasant Run for a show, and you’re in the mood for a little gumbo, you’ll find it at Jambalaya.

If You Go

What: Jambalaya
Where: Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles
Information: 630-524-2955
Hours: Lunch hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; dinner hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday

• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at Shaw Media. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits different restaurants and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.