From the excitement over the Saints in the Super Bowl to the anticipation of flinging beads around for Mardi Gras, next week will be all about celebrating the spirit of New Orleans. And when that happens, there's only one place to turn: Lucile's Creole Cafe at 275 South Logan.
There's plenty there to satisfy your sweet tooth, from the decadent pain perdu and bread pudding to the downright naughty beignets, hot from the fryer and coated in powdered sugar. And now Lucile's is tempting us with banana beignets.
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Despite the name, the dessert is really a twisted banana split, where the fruit is sliced down the middle, dredged in a flour mixture and deep-fried. It comes topped with housemade vanilla ice cream and praline pecans and drizzled with a brown sugar sauce. You'll notice this description doesn't involve an actual beignet, which is somewhat tragic. The waitress confirmed the lack of fried dough: "Yeah, it's really a misnomer," she said, looking a little wistful.
The bananas are a curiosity: They lose a lot of their sweetness when they're fried, and the flour coating doesn't add much flavor. Yes, the crispness is a fun contrast to the ice cream, but after a few bites, you begin to feel a little like you're eating plantains à la mode. The ice cream imparts a fresh vanilla flavor, but with a heavy mouthfeel. But the brown sugar sauce, which is usually served with the pain perdu, is always a revelation. In fact, you could pour it over an old shoe and it would make the laces taste transcendent. But even the sauce has a hard time pulling the banana beignets back from the brink of disappointment.
So if you're looking to keep the party alive, stick with the real beignets, or even just a giant biscuit slathered in strawberry rhubarb jam. It's hard to go wrong with the classics.
Banana beignets $4.50