Gene's New Orleans Style PoBoys & Deli
Reviewed by Virginia B. Wood, Fri., Sept. 22, 2000
1209 East 11th, 477-6600
At the intersection of Navasota and East 11th, where 11th Street makes a "Y" with Rosewood, veer to the right and you're in front of Gene's, the newest member of East Austin's stellar lineup of soul food joints. I'd noticed Gene's a couple of times while house hunting in the neighborhood this summer but hadn't had time to drop in until last week. What a treat! In addition to daily soul food specials, Gene's offers a full menu of New Orleans-style PoBoys, some hot, some cold, all dressed to perfection. He's also a master of the fryer, turning out Southern fried chicken dinners and baskets of delectable "chicken fries," thin, tender strips of chicken battered and fried like french fries. Don't miss them.
New Orleans natives Gene and Claudia Tumbs are the proprietors of Gene's, and their provenance shows in the food. They've had the little cafe for a little over five months now, and Gene makes monthly pilgrimages back to the Crescent City for many of his authentic ingredients. The PoBoys here are the genuine article, made on sliced French baguettes, fully dressed with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and sauce. I brought home a bag of PoBoys to a group of friends, sampling the smoked sausage ($4.89), special hot sausage ($5.59), roast beef ($4.89), and catfish ($5.89), and we had a difficult job deciding which we liked best. The catfish fillets were perfectly fried in a crisp cornmeal batter, making that sandwich a strong contender, but we finally settled on the special Hot Sausage because we liked the spicy kick of the seasonings.
Once you've worked your way through the hot and cold sandwich offerings and feasted on the fried chicken, be sure to check out the daily soul food specials. There's the New Orleans Monday staple of red beans and rice with smoked sausage and cornbread, and Tuesdays mean the house specialty, jambalaya. They've got spaghetti on Wednesdays, smothered pork chops and collard greens on Thursdays, a fried seafood platter on Fridays, and smothered chicken over rice on Saturdays. Wash it all down with fresh-brewed tea, sodas, and good New Orleans French Roast coffee. Top the meal off with a warm bowl of peach cobbler -- sweet peach slices and flaky pastry bathed in a wonderful sauce redolent of cinnamon and nutmeg -- or a cool serving of smooth, creamy homemade banana pudding, the ultimate in dessert comfort food.
I haven't made it into Gene's for breakfast yet, but with a menu featuring eggs, grits, pancakes, smoked sausages, pork links and patties, ham, and scratch biscuits, it won't be long before I give it a try. If I find a house nearby, Gene's is likely to become one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants. For the moment, I'm a new regular customer, house or no house