February 2007 Overall Rating: 4
The namesake of Asa’s Place is Asa Dubois, father of the restaurant’s owner, Chris.
Asa was a big man by all accounts who lit up a room when he walked in. He was a member of several community organizations, including the Shriners and the Masons. He was also a founder of the Krewe of Mardi Gras.
Asa Dubois was heavily involved in starting the effort to transport burned victims to the Shriners Hospital in Shreveport. He died not that long ago in a motorcycle accident. His premature passing was a major loss for a number of obvious reasons. One not-so-obvious effect was cutting off the realization of his dream to open up a small restaurant with his son, Chris.
Asa Dubois and his family had owned Gino’s from 1989 until they sold it in 2000. Chris had been a part of that operation and had spoken with his dad about opening up a smaller restaurant together which would serve a lot less people that the 200 seats in the monstrous Gino’s. The idea was to serve sandwiches and a few entrees and appetizers in an atmosphere, which would be manageable enough to leave time and space for “fishing on the weekends.”
After his father’s death, Chris Dubois decided to act on his father’s idea. He bought out J. B. Breaux’s operation at the Frostop, located on the banks of the Intracoastal Canal on East Park Avenue. He’s been open for several months now and is well on way to making that dream a reality.
The menu’s cover is adorned with several ingratiating photos of Asa. Inside you’ll find simplicity and brevity, which coincides with Asa’s vision.
Appetizers include homemade crabmeat stuffed jalapeño peppers, fried crab fingers, and bacon wrapped shrimp. The one novel appetizer is Sassy Shrimp, which came very crisply fried in a batter of cornflower and breadcrumbs. The “Sassy” part of the dish was the accompanying sweet and spicy sauce, which features chili peppers for heat. The shrimp were fresh and expertly fried, and the sauce was tasty but best used in small doses.
Next we tried the shrimp and crab gumbo with homemade potato salad and Asa’s Place’s signature dish, the Crab Soup. The gumbo is the standard down-the-middle-of-the-fairway variety with an excellent roux base and balanced favors. The small cup I had could have used a bit more meat, however.
The crab soup is worthy of the handle “signature dish.” The base is a thick crème that bursts with crabmeat flavor. Generous chunks of the flesh float in a spicy sea seasoned with a dash of crab boil. You could, and probably should, build an entire meal around this dish one day.
The litmus test for a restaurant’s po-boy acumen is roast beef. Asa’s did not disappoint. The meat, of course, is not the sliced deli version with ersatz brown gravy thrown on but rather the extremely long-cooked variety that’s almost reduced to its essentials. While plenty juicy enough, the sandwich didn’t feature juices or gravy so voluminous so as to wind up on your clothing. The meat is lightly seasoned, with only a hint of garlic or Tony’s. The po-boy bread was also fresh and featured the insides buttered and grilled, a nice touch that adds ridiculous amounts of calories and cholesterol, but all in the name of good taste.
We also tried the club sandwich, which featured a triple deck of grilled ham, turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and pickle. The bread here too was grilled in butter on the resultant’s grill. This sandwich is also a very respectable, standard, version of this American classic.
Asa’s also serves various entrees, including, fried shrimp, fried oysters, stuffed crab, and the ubiquitous seafood platter. You can also get Angus ribeye steak, fettuccini alfredo (with your choice of shrimp, crabmeat, crawfish, or chicken, or a combination therein).
Boiled seafood is also available when in season. We tried the crawfish one night early in the season. They were delicious, albeit on the small side. The seasoning seemed to be the traditional Zatarain’s type with just the right amount of salt. They were cooked to just the right consistency and I believe we got a little lagniappe on our 10-pound special.
Desserts are limited to cheesecake (both “bites and slices”), chocolate bites and ice cream. Asa’s also features lunch specials, which are planned out monthly. Although we didn’t have a chance to try them, the reports we got from reliable sources tell us they are well worth checking out. The menu for these specials appears to hold few surprises, but there are no repeats during the entire month. And every one sounds worthy, at least on paper.
For those folks who still have a hankering for the legendary Frostop hamburger, Asa’s still features the “Lot-O-Burger” with the same mustard-mayo sauce that made that version rightly cherished by the burger cognoscenti.
Service was quick, efficient, and very friendly.
Chris Dubois says that he wants to keep it very casual, but wants the restaurant to be full-service as opposed to the quasi-fast food atmosphere of its prior life. He achieves this goal easily.
Dubois has plans to open up the deck which fronts the Intracoastal Canal to feature al fresco style dining. He may eventually open the restaurant more at night if the demand presents itself, but he definitely wants to keep things simple and allow time for his private life and, of course, “fishing on the weekend”njust the way his dad would have wanted it.
8702 Park Ave.
Crabmeat Stuffed Jalepeno Peppers
Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
Shrimp and Crab Gumbo with homemade potatoe salad
Roast Beef Poboy
RESERVATIONS not required
Plenty of Parking
DESIGNATED SMOKING AREA
CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED