Randall’s at the New Climax doesn’t exactly feel like a restaurant: When you walk into the windowless space, there’s no host waiting to guide you to a table. You find your own seat, and you may not have a server; much of the time, you need to order directly from the bar, which could explain why that area tends to be thronged with chatty regulars.
But to miss the food here would be a grave error. Owner Randall Borne’s initial attraction to this business was through food, after all, and he spent years perfecting Creole and Cajun recipes from his native Louisiana, selling dishes from a mobile cart before landing in his first permanent space.
All those years of practice paid off.
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The kitchen here puts out a well-rounded menu of soul food, including crispy chicken wings, glazed with a sweet-spicy lacquer so deftly balanced, you’ll wonder why you’ve spent so many years thinking you were a Frank’s Red Hot purist. The shrimp po’boy is another winner, with its substantial roll and heap of taut, fat prawns. And you should heed Borne’s nudging toward the pork chops, which are so intensely savory, you’ll find yourself gnawing the bone long after the meat is gone.
Borne also puts obsessive attention into a roster of daily specials that include smothered burritos, a favorite from the mobile cart, and gumbo. “I have a brother in New Orleans who does meat processing — smoked meats and country stuff that people like,” he explains. “He ships it up to make gumbo with.”
It’s worth heading here on Tuesday for the smothered catfish: a filet of fried seafood pooled in a velvety gravy, sown with pepper and scattered with bite-sized shrimp. “I start making that gravy early in the morning,” Borne reveals. And it’s usually gone by night.
This is all good food to pair with light beer or a highball cocktail, both of which are plentiful and cheap — especially on Fridays, when an all-night happy hour knocks a buck or so off drink prices, and food served buffet-style is free.