New Orleans Lunchbox

Date
23 Aug 2012
Cuisine
American
Cost
Average Cost ($8-$14)
Location
West Huntsville
Rating
4 out of 5

Melanie’s Take

Inside New Orleans Lunch Box

I don’t know about you, but I don’t typically eat food from a gas station. If there’s a hotdog on a spit or a prepackaged pimento cheese sandwich, I’ll pass them up every time. When we walked into the BP on the corner of Holmes and Jordan to eat lunch, I tried to suspend my usual hesitation so we could try the New Orleans Lunchbox. I am so happy that I did.

 

Roast Beef Po Boy

Inside the cleanest gas station of all time sits one of the tastiest places our town has to offer. When we walked up to the counter, we saw menu choices ranging from gumbo to brisket to po boys. Upon recommendation from the lone employee manning the place, I ordered the roast beef po boy. Instead of getting it dressed with the typical mayo, lettuce, and tomato, I chose pickles, cheese, and mustard as my toppings. As my side, I selected the potato salad. After ordering, we grabbed one of the few nearby tables and waited for our food.

As we waited for our order, it began to sink in how well run this place was. Although only one employee was running everything when we were there, she did it with ease. The food was all preprepared by the meticulous owner, Roland Lowrey, and simply required assembly. After only a few minutes’ wait, we received our food. My sandwich was a large portion of french bread piled high with saucy roast beef. It reminded me of an open-faced pot roast sandwich and was the ultimate comfort food sandwich. The meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the bread was soft yet sturdy enough to soak in the sauce without falling apart. The potato salad had a sharp dill flavor and was a nice departure from the typical sweet southern style salad. The food here was so good that a few days later, I tried to replicate the sandwich at home when we had friends over for dinner. Although my attempt was tasty, I think next time, I’ll just say, “Hey, let’s meet at the gas station for dinner.” I recommend you give it a try, especially if you’re a meat lover. They’re open Mon-Wed from 10am-2:30pm and Thurs-Sat from 10am-8pm.

Inside New Orleans Lunch Box (2)

Shane’s Take

We’ve eaten cajun food in a couple iffy places—Tim’s is a repurposed old Pizza Hut, and Cajun Cafe could be called “Cajun Flea Market”—so eating cajun food in a gas station didn’t worry me much. Sure, I had my hesitations, but we figured it was worth a shot. These strange places void of the suburban comfort of a Tortora’s or a Rosie’s can’t survive without good food or a dedicated clientele, so our chances for finding good eats were pretty good.

Sampler Plate

I ordered the cajun lunch sampler plate, which consisted of jambalaya, gumbo, smoked sausage, red beans and rice, and a couple pieces of toasted french bread. Except for the red beans and rice, which were a little bland, everything tasted great. The gumbo had a nice consistency and flavor (complete with that odd pond water flavor that accompanies gumbo in these parts) that tasted like it came from a long time spent in a Crock Pot. Likewise, the jambalaya, which was sticky and starchy like I like it, was simply flavored but not bland and appeared to have been blessed with a long cook time. The standout of the plate was the smoked sausage, which, wow, was really good. The skin was tight but not tough and glimmered with a little oil; the inside had a great texture; the entire sausage had a great smoked flavor. The meat had a “mature” flavor. It didn’t contain any novelty spices or appear to be the product of a niche cooking technique, but it wasn’t washed up or out of a can. It was quality food.

Bread Pudding

Of course, we couldn’t leave without trying the bread pudding. Having eaten bread pudding at about ten places, we’ve concluded that you get what you get with bread pudding. No one uses the same ingredients, and no one bakes it similarly. Just appreciate the pudding for what the cook made it to be. The pudding at New Orleans Lunch box has a casserole-like texture to it, with pudding gluing together the raisins and french bread and cinnamon and rum. It’s sweet but not a sugar lick, and it’s rummy but not a pudding shooter, both which show the cook isn’t trying to cover up something or win us over by sabotaging our senses. All that is to say I was impressed with the bread pudding.

New Orleans Lunchbox is a great place to eat. Although a little strange and initially off-putting, the gas station environment is a surprisingly comfortable and extraordinarily clean place to eat. I enjoyed the service provided by the person behind the counter, who willing offered suggestions and proudly told us about the store. The big appeal of Lunch Box, though, is the food. Full of flavor and calories, it is simple, delicious Cajun soul food.

Final impressions:

  • Oddly enough, it was not weird eating in the gas station. We’re not talking about fine dining, of course, but the atmosphere was just fine for a lunch on styrofoam plates.
  • Melanie’s roast beef sandwich was great. It and a bread pudding would make an awesome Friday lunch.
  • The prices are a little high. I believe it cost us about $21 for our lunch, which is more than we should be spending in a gas station eatery.
  • Disappointingly, the sweet tea wasn’t good. Sure, I drank a lot of it, but it had a twang to it that indicated it’d probably steeped too long.
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