Les Bons Temps Squeaks Out Two Bells

Being the former New Olreans Times-Picayune food critic, Craig LaBan isn’t exactly forgiving when it comes to Cajun food, so Les Bons Temps has to be grateful to pry a two bell rating from LaBan.

It is a shame that the inconsistencies seem to strike the high-priced entrees, a fact that put this two-bell rating in jeopardy. But I still found plenty to remind me why I’m a Mims fan to begin with – in particular with the opening plates.

In addition to his spot-on classics of gumbo and eggplant beignets, there were worthy standards from the Carmine’s canon. There was creamy crab cheesecake with an undertone of smoked gouda. Sea scallops crusted with crispy couscous came over a tangy balsamic-currant reduction. The rich wild mushroom bisque, tinged with spice and fistfuls of crab, was as addictive as the gumbo.

As in any good New Orleans kitchen, “deep fried” is a major food group. The croquettes of smoky jambalaya studded with duck confit were among the best bets. The gingery crawfish spring rolls were a surprisingly tasty example of the Cajun-Asian fusion that Mims explored further with his “Casian” tuna tartare. Even the fresh flavors here, like the sweet crab salad mounded over slow-roasted tomatoes, weren’t complete without a fried tidbit, like the crab-and-rice boulet that added crunch to the creamy salad.

Two Bells – Very Good

Les Bons Temps [Philadelphia Inquirer]