New Orleans Creole. Now there's something you don't see in a themed bar every day. Forget Mexican or American Japanese dude food, somewhere's found a gap in the market. And that somewhere is the renovated Bourbon. The Kings Cross barn bar closed in 2010 when water damage caused its ceiling to collapse in a dramatic storm. In a rather bizarre twist that can't be ignored, the owners have chosen New Orleans, itself not unfamiliar with storm damage, for its reinvention.
Kings Cross has had its fair share of controversy recently. The bad news levee broke with a series of attacks, and the venue also has a colourful history it opened in 1967 to become a haven for soldiers returning from Vietnam, and has been linked to gangsters and intoxicated celebs.
Entering via a rather fancy, elaborately lit corridor, you can see the Bourbon has been redesigned with a wink to casino decor, and there are plans to make it into the Cross's Ivy complex. One half expects to be seated at a roulette table, but instead it's a table looking onto the dandelion fountain on Darlinghurst Road.
Louisiana Creole food is a mishmash of different cultures, like the population of New Orleans. French, Spanish, African, Italian and Portuguese are thrown into the mix, with jambalaya the signature dish. It's a close cousin to paella, and it's on the menu in a Spanish risotto variety ($25), blended with spices, shrimp, lime, bacon, smoked sausage, and watercress. It's a simple, hearty dish packed with Southern hospitality.
From the oyster bar, the theme continues with grilled jumbo shrimp ($24) in creole butter and spiced salt. A gumbo with a thick, spicy duck broth and smoked sausage ($18) and clam and corn chowder ($22) pop out from the soup menu, while the mains are a mix of estofada ($24) (braised beef shin marinated, charred, and then braised) and Cajun pumpkin and okra lasange ($24). A good halfway point is the blackened tuna steak ($28) with an accompanying apple and fennel salad.
It's interesting, amid the glittery surroundings, to eat this food that has come from simple origins. But then New Orleans does have a thriving drinking scene amongst strip joints and red light shops, so perhaps this is the ideal location.