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Review: Heard Dat Kitchen 

Creole and soul food specialties at a casual Central City takeout spot

click to enlarge Jeffery Heard serves Dat Superdome, featuring fried catfish, mashed potatoes and onion rings.

Photo by Cheryl Gerber

Jeffery Heard serves Dat Superdome, featuring fried catfish, mashed potatoes and onion rings.

  Heard ran a catering company named after his mother, Audrey Mae, for eight years before opening the small restaurant in March 2015 in a nondescript blue building emblazoned with a bright red fleur-de-lis crawfish decal on the side. Heard's cooking showcases an affinity for his hometown, the New Orleans Saints and the Creole and soul food dishes his mother prepared. Blackened seafood features prominently, as do dishes involving smothered ingredients and heavy cream sauces.

  Heard's wife and son take turns in the kitchen on busy days, when customers line up for his yakamein, a fairly classic rendition of the New Orleans old sober. Heard's daughter prepares it daily with thick sweet and sour broth, soft chunks of sirloin and hard-boiled egg.

  There's little inside the corner spot besides a few swivel chairs, a small counter and a backroom with video poker machines. A few outdoor tables provide seating when the weather permits, but takeout is the operation's focus.

  Menu items have whimsical names referencing the city and the Saints. The Dat Superdome — a striking dish reminiscent of a seafaring shepherd's pie — features a blackened catfish fillet topped with a thick layer of fluffy mashed potatoes under a tower of golden fried onion rings. It's decadent in size and complexity, and the layers complement each other. The fish's heavy spice of cayenne and black pepper is offset by buttery potatoes, while the onions' sweetness and crunch are balanced by juicy corn in lobster and fennel cream sauce. It's understandably the restaurant's top-seller.

  The chef's special pasta is a creamy orzo medley heavy with cream and black pepper. Tiny, buttery corn kernels provide slight sweetness in the savory dish, which is speckled with blackened shrimp.

  Dishes are overall heavy on cream, and there's not much to be said of the sparse lighter fare on the menu. The food is treated to techniques that enhance flavor rather than drown it in butter and grease, which appear sparingly in some dishes.

  Heard switches out crawfish for the more commonly used roast beef debris in a cheesy french fry medley. There are abundant plump and sweet crawfish tails tucked under a blanket of melted Parmesan and cheddar cheeses, but basil cream sauce feels like overkill and lacks seasoning.

  The lone dessert item is a classic caramel-covered bread pudding. Smothered in the buttery caramel sauce adorned with little else than a sprinkling of powdered sugar, it's like everything else at Heard Dat Kitchen — classic New Orleans.

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