by Kat Robinson
I have been waiting with more than a little anticipation for the opening of FatSam's Louisiana Cafe in the River Market. I seriously dig on Creole and Cajun creations (to the point that the hubster and I usually go to NOLA each year for a short vacation, just to eat and savor). While I can look forward to certain items being offered from time to time at many Central Arkansas eateries, I've needed a true fix.
That there is a catfish po'boy dressed with sauce, lettuce, and tomato ($6.50), served up with a oo-whee righteous good lumpin' of mustardy redskin-on potato salad. And this will probably cause some dispute, but I believe it's the best catfish po'boy I've had within the borders of this state. The house special French rolls are just crusty enough to absorb just enough of the sauce but not so much as to become drippy. The catfish is crispy and has substance to it, without being a slugging ground for cornmeal breading. And that sauce -- I am not a mustard fan, but the balance between mustard and mayo and Cajun seasoning is perfect, perfect to the point where I didn't miss other sauces I have savored on such a creation (including some homemade Tartar and cocktail sauce mixes I've had down south).
I have to warn you, though -- if you're going to go enjoy yourself and get a bite, go early. I was shocked and disappointed that the crawfish etouffe and the jerk chicken were all gone, robbing me of the chance to sample either one. And this was before 1pm.
The menus aren't posted; instead, there's a sandwich board with the day's specials (this time around, Chicken Pontchartrain (dinner with hot water cornbread, with corn salad or red beans and rice, with a salad and a drink for $7.95) and Jambalaya (normally $5.50, but $5 today) and paper flyers with the menu du jour available. I am interested to see what pops up, since Chef says the menu's gonna change every couple of weeks. Sure wish there was a website to check it out in advance.
Oh, and that Chicken Pontchartrain? Pretty decent smothered chicken, and a nice bit of salad, too. The hot water cornbread is unsweet and very yellow -- but that Corn Maque Chou was the best part of the meal.
By the way... Kent's Downtown, the meat market across from FatSam's? Still not open. The guys working to get the eatery ready say they're aiming for Friday. We'll see.