Gabriel Hall Brings the Taste of NOLA to the Motor City
I’ve never been to New Orleans. It’s on my bucket list of places to go, mainly because of the food. When I see pictures of beignets buried under a tower of powdered sugar, a hearty and flavorful bowl of gumbo, red beans and rice that stick to your bones, and decadent bread pudding, it makes me hold my head in shame that I have yet to experience such a food heaven. Luckily, I won’t have to worry about hopping on a flight whenever I want to bless my taste buds with the flavor of New Orleans. This Spring, Gabriel Hall, a creole restaurant, will open its doors, and I am all the way here for it.
The owners of Gabriel Hall are Dameon Gabriel and Ederique Goudia. Ederique, who serves as the executive chef of Gabriel Hall, described the vision for Gabriel Hall as being “the intersection of food, music and culture.” The co-owners have hosted two pop-up dinners since July, and their third one was held on Wednesday night at Brix Wine & Charcuterie Bar in West Village. Up until this point, I had only heard about Gabriel Hall, so I was excited to finally be able to experience it.
I’ve never been to Brix before. When I walked in, I was a little worried that the space was a bit too small to accommodate, what I was anticipating, a large amount of traffic. Instead, the space was intimate enough without feeling too crowded. It didn’t feel like people were on top of each other. With the warm lighting and music playing in the background, it I almost felt like I was in a New Orleans night club, sitting at the bar, and listening to a live band. I’m going to take a safe bet and guess that that was the ambiance that the Gabriel Hall team was going for.
The food was ready for serving at 6:00pm on the dot, just as it was advertised. Lissen, that’s important to us folk who go out to events where there will be food, but we’re coming in borderline hangry (not saying I was, but just to throw out there that timing is important J). The menu consisted of chicken & andouille sausage gumbo, vegetarian okra gumbo, and cajun smoked turkey & white bean chili. Each entrée was served with creole cornbread. Together, the entrée and cornbread cost $7. The cherry on top were the wine pairings, also at $7 a glass, and provide by Brix. I had the chicken & andouille sausage gumbo and the cajun smoked turkey & white bean chili with cornbread.
My first taste of the chili immediately triggered a dopamine release, or in other words, my body was dancing on the inside. There was an instant burst of flavor with the first spoonful. With the shredded turkey, white beans, celery, onions, and tomatoes, it contributed to a perfect mixture that was warm and comforting, especially on an evening that was dreary with bouts of rain. But it was the spice profile of the soup that left a lasting impression – literally, as I could taste the spiciness that lingered on my tongue after I finished half of the chili. The water that the bartenders provided was definitely appreciated.
The gumbo was good, however the flavor profile wasn’t as strong as I would have liked for it to be, especially after having tasted the chili. There was a more subtle flavor, nothing as strong as the chili. I think it also didn’t help that my gumbo’s temperature was lukewarm by the time that I got to it. However, the rice and sausage made a nice compliment so the gumbo still felt filling enough. Between the chili and the gumbo, the chili was hands down my favorite. So much so, that I was plotting on how I could have it everyday for the next several days.
Now, let’s talk about that creole cornbread. The cornbread was thick but when I gave it a little squeeze, I could tell that it wasn’t dry and there was some moist to it. When I split my piece in half, no crumbs sprinkled on to the table. The cornbread smelled sweet enough to almost make me think that I was about to savor a piece of yellow cake for dessert. When I bit into the cornbread, it tasted like sweet corn. This was the type of cornbread that I could eat alone without butter. Which isn’t good news for my midsection because I would eat a whole pan of it while binge watching Netflix. This is that cornbread Eddie Murphy was talking about in Life, when he said that there would be consequences and repercussions if anyone took his cornbread. But I can also understand why homeboy asked for the cornbread. You don’t leave this cornbread sitting on the table uneaten.
Overall, I had a pleasant experience. I was excited about Gabriel Hall when I heard about the concept of the restaurant, but now that I’ve had a taste of it, I’m even more excited for its opening. I’d prefer to have the choice of eating Gabriell Hall now because it is perfect for this time of year and weather. I’m excited to see what else they are going to bless their customers with. Spring can’t come soon enough.