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Po Boy Jim, Cajun and Creole Bar and Grill with Soul Food - 7th and H Street NE

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I always get excited at the possibility of good Cajun/Creole food.  For years, I worked at a place in the Atlanta suburbs called Comeaux's - the owner was from Lafayette and the food was amazing, and it set my expectations pretty high.  I have yet to find crawfish etouffee (outside of Louisiana) that matched the version I would routinely eat after my shift.

So, Jason and I visited Po Boy Jim last Friday night, and I worked pretty hard to temper myself.  The two-story space is nice - we ate at the bar upstairs.  Service was good - the staff seem pretty enthusiastic about the restaurant and its potential.  The beer list was pretty lackluster (only 5 taps, 3 of which were not very good for summer), but the bartender actually took time to listen to our suggestions and jot down some notes - again, they really seem like they want to hear feedback and implement positive changes.

The food was quite good.  We started with a "flight" of wings - 3-4 each of three different flavors.  The wings themselves were somewhat small, but they were pretty meaty and the sauces/rubs were tasty.  I liked the dry Jerk version the best, and hubby liked the Carolina BBQ.  We each had an oyster po'boy - I got the original/classic, and Jason got the Buffalo version.  They were both delicious.  The bread was really nicely grilled, which gave the whole sandwich an almost smoky note.  The oysters were plump and well seasoned/fried.  The onion rings were awesome - big and thick, which is my preference, but also crispy and well-salted.  Fries were less impressive, but still hot and tasty.  Jason raved about the buffalo sauce - he was sopping up every last drop with the fries.

Some people have complained about the prices, but considering the large portion sizes, I thought they were fine.  The chef (and owner, I think?) came out to apologize for our wings taking longer than usual, and to ask what we thought about the food, which was nice.  It's definitely not a diet-friendly place to eat, but I can see us going back to try more of the menu choices.

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I've been twice now - both visits a couple weeks ago. Overall this is a warm family place that does some things really well and others not so well.

The Good: the po boy fillings are terrific. Nicely spiced and fried shrimp. Really nicely braised (?) beef - rich and saucy to give it that satisfying debris gravy feel. Lovely family vibe from the servers.

The Not-so-great: Bread. A shame to use the bog standard bad DC steak and cheese bread (spongy, no crust) with such nice po boy ingredients. Grilled/toasted/burnt but can't hold up to juicy fillings. I don't need an exact Leidenheimer facsimile, but something with a bit of backbone would help. Service can also be that odd combination of attentive without getting what you need when you want it. But that's easy to correct in such a casual environment. Sandwiches are pricey but the beer is reasonable, making it a better value outside of work hours. Overall Johnny's Half Shell (lunch only) has much better po boy bread for essentially the same price - that's a shame in my mind.

I'll definitely go back though.

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I never knew this place had an upstairs bar.

And that's where I sat.  Ordered a Dark 'N Stormy variant as well as a basket of fried oysters.  Pleasant, nothing fancy, which is exactly what I want sometimes.  I ate more of the fries than I had previously authorized myself to eat, they seemed fried in peanut oil.  I will be back when I'm in the mood.

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