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One busy Thursday I met Pike in Park Slope for dinner. He suggested NoNO (for North of New Orleans, or so says the awning). When we got there the head waiter informed us that since we had no reservations, we could be seated only if we were able to finish before the people who claimed our table arrived in an hour and a half. No biggie. Pike had an after-dinner date to get to.

There aren't too many really good Cajun restaurants in New York and fewer now that Cooking with Jazz is closed. As a result, Cajun is a cuisine I don't get around to eating much. So I was like a kid in a candy store with NoNO's menu. I wanted to try everything. Sure, they had some things that I've had before, like steak and some standard chicken dishes, but they also had a swath of fresh vittles that would require an hour on the subway for me to get to. Dammitall, what to do? So I ended up staring at the menu thinking for probably twenty minutes, eating into our precious and ever dwindling chow time.

The first thing to come to the table while we pondered our meals was warm corn bread, which was really great, and some almost completely melted butter. I'm not sure if this is to dip the cornbread in like it were a lobster tail, or if it was a boo-boo, but that's what we ended up doing anyway.

My appetizer was the Popcorn Crawfish, something I don't think I've seen anywhere else and hence begging for me to try it. Crawfish taste almost like a spicy cross between a lobster and a shrimp. This dish of teeny, batter-fried crawdaddies was pretty damn tasty. They're served with a dipping sauce that adds a little moisture to what might otherwise be something too dry. Pike ordered Fried Oysters. Hey, the man had a date after dinner. Like the crawfish, they were fried. But they were saltier and three times the size. I grabbed one, dunked it in the dipping sauce, and enjoyed. It wasn't bad but I preferred my own dish.

For an entree, Pike ordered the Chicken Fried Steak. When I admitted never having had chicken fried steak, perhaps due to a regional lack of Bob's Big Boys, I was met with exasperation. "They take the cheapest, worst cut of beef they can find, dunk it in batter, and the fry the crap out of it. It's awesome!" And yeah, I tried it and it was pretty awesome. Served under a coating of gravy and beside mashed potatoes and string beans, I can definitely say that I'd consider this next time. This time, I ordered the Chicken, Pork Andouille and Tasso Jambalaya. I was warned that it would be spicy but I didn't think it was that hot. The dish itself reminded me of a fancy version of something from Rice-A-Roni. It was fine, but I felt that it was somewhat on the bland side. Some online reviews on places like Urban Spoon and so forth make me feel like I was not alone in this opinion. There were so many other dishes I was eager to try that I know that next time I'll order one of them.

Two sodas, one beer, two appetizers and two entrees, plus tax and tip totaled $81 even. It would have only been $80, but Pike was feeling generous. Maybe it was the oysters.

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