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Eastside Jambalaya Contest

It all started when Jim from J&B’s Tavern told us he was serving jambalaya during the games. “Cool” we thought, a nice twist on pub grub to say the least. Then the next day we ate at BBQ Review and had some decent jambalaya. Shortly after that we were dispatched to Lebos to photograph their sweet ribs for our “Owners Favorites” article, while we were there we noticed jambalaya on the menu. On the way back we drove past Allyn’s Cafe and was again reminded of that savory cajun stew. That made four times in two days, obviously jambalaya was alive and well on the Eastside. It didn’t take long to realize we needed to put these folks to the test.
Our first call went right back to the first person that really got the idea going, J&B’s Tavern. Big Jim quickly agreed to host the contest although he was a bit nervous about competing against the other restaurants who have been serving jambalaya for quite some time now. Jim has been making it at home for awhile but it is a brand new special to the pub. Nevertheless he was still up for the challenge. After finalizing the date, time and rules we contacted the other restaurants and filled them in on the gig. Chef Mike at Lebos not only agreed but seemed very excited about winning “Eastside’s Best Jambalaya” award so they were in, Allyn’s Cafe also agreed even though that day they had a benefit so they could only send an entry but not attend. BBQ Review was a different story, our first call was left unanswered, our second call was interrupted in the first 5 seconds by a very rude “We’re not entering your contest!” Surprised at the unnecessary tone we thought, “Hummm,
are you scared of defeat? Who knows, who cares. Your jambalaya was good but not that good honey. No harm done, I doubt you would have won anyway. We will remember to leave you out of all of our future contests though.
So now we were ready to go with the three places that serve fine cajun stew here on the Eastside, Allyn’s Cafe. Lebos and J&B’s Tavern. If we left anyone out we apologize, we diligently tried to find every restaurant we even thought might maybe serve jambalaya and if you got left out it wasn’t on purpose.
With all three contestants confirmed we rounded up the judges. First was Chef Mark Metcalf (right) owner and operator of the popular VegHead in Loveland. Mark has decades of chef experience and was happy to do us the favor. Next we went with Matt Brandenburg. Matt’s not a chef nor does he try to be, what he is however is a bonafide die hard jambalaya fan. Matt even drove down to New Orleans (post Katrina) for some local authentic versions of his favorite dish. He also stopped by Paul Prudhommes “K-Pauls” for some of Pauls award winning jambalaya. Now if that doesn’t qualify you as a good judge what does?

Judges seated, jambalaya steaming and score cards in hand it all began and was said and done in less than an hour. The overall winner for “Eastside’s Best Jambalaya” went to Chef Mike at Lebos! J&B’s came in a close second, followed by Allyn’s Cafe. All three were really good, so now you know where to get a great plate of this cajun classic when your craving one. Turns out Big Jim didn’t need to be nervous after all, he serves a real fine jambalaya. Keep an eye out for it, he runs it as a special during games and now and then throughout the month. It’s always a steal because they keep the prices over at J&B’s really low. I’m certain the Lebos folks are proud of their main man Mike, he really pulled it off with his beautiful dish (pictured) it was truly award winning jambalaya!
Allyn’s has been known as the jambalaya place for a while, his was good but he’ll have to step it up a notch or two to keep up with his East End competition Lebos. Nevertheless, now there is three places to get great jambalaya so there is no need to drive all the way to BBQ Review.

 

 

 

 

 

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