Perhaps more than anywhere else, New Orleans is known for its iconic culinary dishes, ranging from a traditional gumbo steeped with Cajun influences to the newer Vietnamese-Creole-fusion dishes, which reflect the vast diversity of “Nawlins.” So, when the hankering for some authentic NOLA grub comes on and you’re over 500 miles away from “the real thing,” what do you do? You head to Jenevein’s, a Frisco-based authentic Cajun eatery featuring a true ‘Taste of New Orleans.’
Located on Stonebrook Parkway, Jenevein’s pays homage to New Orleans-inspired dishes, including favorites such as catfish baskets, sausage gumbo, Cajun cheese fries, a variety of Po’ Boy sandwiches and their signature dish of Tiger Shrimp. Opened just two years, Jenevein’s exists as a partnership between the Louisiana-based Watson family of restaurateurs and Mandy Jenevein with her brothers and father. Eager to taste authentic New Orleans food and leave the house (who isn’t?), the family and I ventured out for some tried-and-true Big Easy classics on a bright Sunday afternoon for a casual lunch.
When we arrived, several masked individuals greeted us promptly from behind the bar, motioning us to sit wherever we liked. Numerous clean and available tables were situated at least six feet apart from one another. Clearly aware of social distancing and sanitary requirements, each table featured its own large bottle of hand sanitizer. The restaurant itself boasted a warm, casual, speakeasy-style with a beautiful array of colorful Mardi Gras beads – magenta, gold and emerald green – dancing across the bar area, housing a large selection of liquors and beer choices. Bricked interior walls, planked grey wood accents and stained concrete flooring decorated the space as well as fleur-de-lis ornamentation and New Orleans Saints memorabilia. Sizable televisions broadcasted the latest ball games, showcasing brightly along the bar area. The restaurant vibe felt upbeat and cheerful, as if everyone inside was as happy as we were to be outside our homes during this global pandemic.
Once my husband, my two boys and I were seated, Dean, our waiter, greeted us, his crinkling eyes lighting up and we could tell he was smiling even as he wore a mask. As he handed us paper menus and individually wrapped utensil packages, I commented on his Dallas Cowboys golf shirt, which he sported proudly. His eyes grinned again while he happily gushed his love for America’s Team.
Dean explained some of the current specials at Jenevein’s, including the weekend brunch menu available as well as the ongoing happy hour for mimosas (yum!), but we started our meal off with a round of iced teas. Once he fetched our drinks, he began to list Jenevein’s great menu of traditional NOLA favorites, and when we asked for his recommendation, he raved about the roast beef po’ boy, drenched in a rich gravy and wedged into warm, crusty French bread. As our mouths watered, he also reviewed various appetizers, which included gravy fries, onion rings, Cajun cheese fries, fried pickles and various varieties of wings. Dean was patient with us as we “hemmed and hawed” over the menu, trying to make a decision. We finally landed on an order of lemon pepper boneless wings and crunchy fried pickles to kick off the meal.
Only five minutes later, two medium-sized baskets arrived, one with plump, boneless chicken wings and the other with slivers of lightly battered and fried pickles, paired with creamy dipping sauce. I dug into the boneless wings while my teenaged boys attacked the fried pickles and we all were extraordinarily pleased with the outcome. The wings were crispy and seasoned perfectly yet the meat inside was tender and oh-so-juicy! Lightly bathed in a Cajun buttermilk batter, the dill pickle chips were fried until crispy and extremely flavorful paired with the creamy blue cheese/ranch style dressing. Needless to say, the baskets of appetizers were demolished in a matter of seconds.
Dean returned and took our entrée orders and then we noticed several other tables filling up. While everyone remained properly social distanced as the establishment allowed only 50 percent capacity, it was clear Jenevein’s is a happening spot on a Sunday afternoon, even during quarantine. We enjoyed the ambiance of the restaurant and each other’s company, but nearly 20 minutes later, we still were without our food. Then, we noticed Dean rushing over to our table with an exasperated look on his face. He immediately apologized, explaining he had forgotten to enter our order given the rush of customers and repetitively said, “I’m so sorry,” and “My bad.” He retook our orders and then hurriedly dashed back to the kitchen area.
Our entrees were delivered a few minutes later and the scents of the dishes were intoxicating. After our heavy hors d’oeuvres, I selected a lighter entrée – the Tex-Mex Omelet paired with a side of breakfast potatoes. Huge in size, the egg dish was stuffed full with Mexican ingredients including chorizo sausage, pico de gallo and cheddar cheese. Topped with homemade salsa, it tasted flavorful and definitely had a bit of a spicy kick. The combination of flavors hit the spot.
Alternatively, my husband and two man-children chose hearty, robust dishes and were not disappointed, leaving the establishment fully satisfied – which is saying something. First up – the Cajun-styled Chicken and Sausage Gumbo: a dark and comforting roux of vegetables, tender chicken and Andouille sausage generously seasoned with cayenne pepper, tasting full of garlic and parsley and topped with a mound of white rice. It was rich, smooth and delicious. My older son chose the Godfather Po’ Boy, which consisted of bacon, sausage, egg and cheddar cheese, prepared on French bread that tasted as if it came straight from a New Orleans bakery. My youngest son chose the Big Easy Burger, a massive, third pound of ground beef slathered with savory, sliced roast beef, Swiss cheese, tangy pickles, sweet onion and topped with tasty mayonnaise along with a mountain of seasoned fries. A foodies’ paradise!
As the day was getting away from us, we ordered a large slice of cheesecake to-go and when we received the bill, we discovered our drinks had been taken off the ticket, due to Dean’s ordering mistake. We thanked him for his kindness, said our goodbyes and returned home. Once inside, I prepared a dessert plate by drizzling the zesty raspberry sauce on top of the large slice of cheesecake. No longer able to wait, we dove in! It was dense yet smooth and silky. Most likely, the best piece of cheesecake I’ve ever had; definitely a showstopper! My only mistake was ordering one piece instead of four.
Ultimately, Jenevein’s was a wonderful dining experience and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Whether looking for Sunday lunch, a night out to watch a game or eating with your family, Jenevein’s is sure to be a fan favorite. Jenevein’s is located at 360 Stonebrook Parkway.
For more information, learn about their happy hours or view their menu, visit www.jeneveins.com.