765 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43215
My Fudha (see earlier post for discussion about Fudha) was about to expire on this holiday weekend, so I decided to have a late lunch at Da Levee on this Thanksgiving Eve. Fudhas are generally valid during times when the restaurant is not usually very busy. In the case of Da Levee, the Fudha can only be used after (They appear to be fairly strict about it, but I was able to use mine when I arrived at !)
This was my second visit to Da Levee…well, actually, the third, but my first visit was aborted when I learned the restaurant was closed on Mondays. The days/hours of operation have since changed – closed on Sunday, but open on Monday.
My previous visit to Da Levee was fine, but it was difficult to get over the Styrofoam plates and cups and plastic utensils. This, too, has changed…a bit. The Cajun food is now served on plates, but the cups and forks are still throwaway. A metal fork would improve the dining experience and presumably wouldn’t increase the dishwashing time much…if at all.
Da Levee is a low-key, friendly Short North eatery. It has seating for 16 at tables and four more at a small counter space. The daily changing menu is posted in typical colorful fashion on a chalkboard on the wall. There is a NOLA flavor to the room as vibrant artwork adorns the walls and colored beads seem to be breeding throughout the space. Shadowboxes are filled with relevant kitsch and fun “stuff.”
Having already viewed the day’s menu on Facebook, I knew what I wanted to order when I walked in. Orders are placed at a counter manned by Justin Boehme, the owner of Da Levee…at least I believe that was him (I should’ve asked!).
I ordered half portions of the Ropa Vieja and Chili Cheese Etouffee with Crawfish. The food, already prepared, was delivered to my table within about four minutes of ordering. It reminded me a bit of glorified fast food. Da Levee is a small establishment and I’m sure that costs are kept in check by preparing quantities of each menu item and serving them while they last, but I do miss the personal touch a bit.
Whereas it was good, the etoufee was on the bland side. Having said that, I must inform the reader that Da Levee has a large selection of sauces, mostly of the hot variety, available for each diner to spice up their meal. The etouffee could have benefited from a little heat, but I wanted to taste the base recipe before experimenting with sauces.
After mopping up the last of the etoufee sauce with one of the two pieces of garlic bread that accompanied my meal, I tried the ropa vieja. This is a dish I had never experienced. Ropa vieja actually means “old clothes” in Spanish. It consists of stewed, shredded beef mixed with both black and green olives in a tomato-based sauce and served over rice.
The ropa had a slight kick to it, but I wanted more. Wandering over to the collection of sauces, I selected a Tapatio Salsa Picante, a hot sauce. After a conservative sprinkling over a portion of my remaining ropa, I applied a more liberal dose. This was just what was needed. The ropa came alive and was clearly my favorite of the two menu items I sampled this day.
To top off the meal, I had the P-Nutt Butta Pie, a steal at only $3.00. I really should have taken it to go because, whereas the pie was very smooth and almost light, it made the entire meal just a bit too filling. On a chocolate cookie-type crust, the peanut butter was perfect - not overpowering at all. Topped with whipped cream and a chocolate drizzle, it was an attractive and tasty conclusion to lunch. Next time, I’ll take it home in a box to enjoy later!
I have not had a lot of authentic Cajun food, but the standard remains the former Glory, a non-descript “hole-in-the-wall” (and I say that lovingly!) on Henderson Road (if my memory is correct) that has probably been closed for at least 10-15 years prior to its next incarnation as Harold’s Cajun Glory on Bethel Road. Alas, Harold died a few years ago and with him seems to have gone the best of Cajun cuisine in the
One of my favorite things about ordering at Glory, and it was almost always Crawfish Etoufee, was that each portion was prepared individually with the diner specifying the “heat index” on a scale of one to 10. I found that seven was best for me!
Da Levee certainly has promise and I hope it succeeds! I would normally refer you to the website, but there is only a home page at this time. Hopefully, it will be launched soon and contain more information about the genesis of the restaurant and its menu items. In the meantime, check it out on Facebook.
(Photo from Da Levee's facebook page)
(Photo from Da Levee's facebook page)