Nola Eatery and Social House – a supposedly New Orleans restaurant in JLT

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Seafood Jambalaya

Oh how disappointed we were when Scotch and I left this restaurant. I really don’t like writing negative reviews but I feel it’s important to post about our good and bad experiences. We wouldn’t have wasted our money (over 700 dhs!) at Nola had we known how poor the food was.

My husband and I really wanted to like this restaurant: it’s close to our home, it’s licensed, and we love Cajun food. We’ve only been to New Orleans once but loved it. We loved the atmosphere down by Bourbon street, the beignets – oh the beignets! – the food, and especially the lawfulness of drinking publicly on the streets.

The atmosphere of the restaurant and bar was laid back, there’s a nice long bar to sit at, and a nice outdoor seating area but we opted to sit indoors for our early 5pm dinner for fear of the flies.

Marinated Olives

Unfortunately, we did not enjoy 5 of the 7 dishes we ordered.

We started with the Louisiana crab cakes but they tasted very fishy to the point of being unappetizing. We left more than half the dish uneaten.

I love ceviche and order it practically everytime I see it on the menu. But Nola’s crab and tuna ceviche was so sour I had to grimace through each bite – it could do with some sweetness…ore less sourness. Again, half the dish was left uneaten.

Crab and Tuna Ceviche

We really love a good beignet and I love seafood so it was a no-brainer to order the shrimp beignets. But when the dish arrived and we bit into one of the shrimps, we were so disappointed at the sogginess of the dough.

The photo below is not the restaurant’s presentation as Scotch and I already had one shrimp beignet each before I remembered to take a photo. That beignet was also left uneaten. Our kids, who love shrimp tempura and all things battered weren’t at all interested in this version of shrimp.

Bayou Shrimp Beignets

Next disappointment was the seafood jambalaya which was listed as “Nola Classic. Mixed seafood with Italian sausage & cooked with creole rice.”

The seafood seemed to be just shrimp and what appeared to be mackerel. I’m not a big fan of mackerel but that’s now what bothered me about the dish.

The problem with this jambalaya was that the basmati rice that was used had such a strong basmati rice smell that was so overpowering that I took two bites and gave up on the dish. I couldn’t taste anything other than rice.

I have had home-cooked dishes (usually soups) ruined by the strong basmati smell and taste – I’ve since learned that certain brands need extra rinsing and soaking before being added to a dish. Rice should not smell of anything but be a medium to soak up or convey the flavors of the ingredients around it.

Seafood Jambalaya with Basmati Rice

Scotch ordered the “Cajun Grilled Quarter Chicken” which he thought was okay flavor-wise but over-salted.

This from a guy who loves his salt.

Cajun Grilled Chicken

The only main dish that I enjoyed was the Prawn Taglioni.

I had actually ordered this for our kids but ended up eating most of it myself. Why is it that the best-tasting dish was the most unappetizing looking?

Prawn Tagliolini

When it was dessert time, we were saddened to not see beignets on the menu. To me, not serving beignets at a New Orleans restaurant is like not serving fried rice at a Chinese restaurant.

On some positive notes, we all enjoyed the Oreo chocolate cheesecake – thank goodness something turned out good! And the beer menu had Brooklyn Lager and Brooklyn IPA – rare to find in Dubai and being a New Yorker it was like a little slice sip of home. And the host and waitstaff were friendly and competent.

For us, Nola seems to be a better place to hang out for drinks than to go for savoring / sampling the food.

On our way out, we tried to find a manager to voice our concerns about the food but none were in plain sight. And honestly, after a long day (we had just come back from a full day at the ) we just wanted (a good meal) and to go home and call it a day.

Our total bill at the end:

I hope you have had a better experience than us and perhaps the restaurant was just having an off day (but it would seem from this Time Out Dubai article that there are more “off” days than “on”).

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Nola Eatery and Social House: Armada Blue Bay Hotel, Cluster P, JLT.  Opening hours: Daily 12noon – 3am.  Telephone: +971 04 399 8155.  Website | Facebook

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    1. I think I have tried Cravin Cajun but on a buffet night. Nothing really stood out for me that night except the southern fried chicken (thumbs down for taste) and the cheese room (thumbs up).