Cajun Corner (920 Queen East, at Logan, 416-703-4477) Complete meals for $10 per person, including taxes, tip and a V8. Average main $6. Open Monday to Friday 10 am to 7 pm, Saturday 10 am to 6 pm, Sunday noon to 5 pm. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free, no washrooms. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Previously located at 1378 Queen East, Cajun Corner moved to its current location back in April. Encouraged by friends and clients to offer their food on a regular basis instead of just through their catering business, owners Karen and Glenn Cosburn added a takeout food counter to their retail shop and now offer a small menu of Cajun and Creole selections from noon until they run out.
Friday is catfish day. The catfish dinner ($6.95) comprises spicy Louisiana slaw, catfish dredged in cornmeal and deep-fried à la minute to juicy perfection, and a choice of hush puppies or corn on the cob.
Catfish is also one of two po' boy options, the other being deep-fried shrimp ($5.95). The third sandwich of the day is a classic New Orleans fave - Muffuletta ($5.95). Salami, ham, provolone and olive salad are piled together on a white bun until they drip greasily over the sides.
The only weakness here is the gumbo. It's available in three sizes, and I'm glad we opt for the 8-ounce ($2.95). It's as watery and murky as the muddy Mississippi, its only taste a lingering fishiness, with no poisson to be found.
The Mardi Gras paraphernalia, Cajun cookbooks, the essence of New Orleans bottled or canned in countless varieties of flavouring agents and sauces, and the Dr. John album playing on the stereo could make Cajun Corner seem over-the-top or contrived.
But it isn't. The Cosburns embody the culture in an authentic way, and their energy is contagious. Suddenly, I'm planning a road trip - hurricane be damned.
"Before you go to New Orleans, make sure you come back here," Karen says. "We'll tell you how to avoid the tourist traps."
I most definitely will.