Food and Fun: New Orleans Style

Thursday marked the grand opening event of Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen, a new restaurant on Aloma Avenue near Publix and Whole Foods. The people behind Tibby’s may be familiar to many Rollins students; they are the same folks behind Tijuana Flats, a much-beloved Tex-Mex establishment that began in Orlando near the University of Central Florida. The creators of Tijuana Flats have returned with a vengeance, this time focusing on New Orleans fare.

Tibby’s has the outward appearance of a typical strip mall location: nondescript and uninteresting. Upon entering, however, I had to do a double take. The walls are adorned with various pictures and pieces of art straight out of New Orleans, and purple fills the ceilings and walls. To say the least, Tibby’s looks like a pretty funky place. The speakers also constantly play New Orleans jazz and funk. I myself have spent a bit of time in New Orleans and, after entering the restaurant, I felt like I was back in Louisiana. It was pretty loud inside despite the music playing at a reasonable volume, but the grand opening event was very busy.

More important than the decorations, however, is the food, and Tibby’s does not disappoint. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at the level of authenticity offered by the menu. Riddled with po’boys, gumbo, étouffée and jambalaya, I was extremely eager to try the food.

After finally seating myself (the place was so packed that I was actually offered an extra seat at a table already occupied by a couple), I managed to flag down some servers to try the food. The service, by the way, was excellent. The staff was friendly and quite fast considering the amount of people who needed assistance.

I was delighted to be handed a muffuletta as my first sample. The classic muffuletta is huge; one of them could easily feed four adults. They are stacked with Genoa salama, hard salami, sweet ham, provolone and mozzarella, and then topped with a marinated olive salad. I have had the original sandwich and, while the Tibby’s version is considerably smaller (thankfully), it is just as delicious.

Their po’boys are simple: a sub-style sandwich with oysters, shrimp or meat, mayo, lettuce, tomato and pickles. Just how they should be. The rice in the gumbo did not seem to be fully cooked, but I will definitely give it a second chance because of the taste. For dessert, servers handed out beignets and bread pudding. Sadly, I was unable to get my hand on a beignet, but they sure did look fantastic. The bread pudding was piping hot and had a tasty brandy sauce rather than the typical rum sauce.

Not only was the food great, but Tibby’s has a fully-stocked bar claiming specialty in New Orleans cocktails (Hurricanes, Mint Juleps, Sazeracs, etc).

My visit to Tibby’s was a lot of fun; I came back satisfied, and can safely say that it will become a staple in my routine. Next time: their crawfish pie.

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