Story by Daniel Urtnowski | Photos by Katherine O’ Callahan
Sweet Mama Janisse has earned a devoted following, from musicians and movie stars to locals and tourists, through a love and dedication toward her craft. With the help of her team, the art of creating Creole dishes is combined with passion and an eye towards implementing progressive and delicious new approaches, resulting in us all being kept well fed. Nicholas, whose passion for cooking is as clear as his ability to articulate what makes any plate great, says “It’s okay if you get too full. We are always happy to wheel you out.”
The Creole cooking tradition comes from the combination of a variety of cultures that melted together in New Orleans in the 18th century. Those traditions gradually fused and expanded as different influences made their way to the region, largely French, Spanish, and some Italian influences, making a broader base than just “Cajun” to inherit from. Sweet Mama Janisse continues that Creole tradition of inheritance, and is still adding to the legacy.
For the last 11 years awards have continued to be added to the walls of Bless My Soul, and it only takes one visit to understand why. You can find a comfortable, personable dining experience and delicious food that has a unique depth of presentation and flavor. One taste and you can see why Taj Mahal was inspired to write the song “Sweet Mama Janisse.”
Bless My Soul Cafe has something for everyone; gluten free and vegan options, a rotating local beer and wine list, unique cocktails like the “Love Potion,” and comfort food in a comfortable environment. They pride themselves on using the freshest possible ingredients, with no fillers or additives. If you make a point to ask the locals about their favorite dishes, time and again you will hear about the chicken and waffles.
On behalf of readers, I acquired an Oyster Po’boy that even Alan Richman would have been happy with. It came dressed with lettuce and a light, smooth and flavorful aioli sauce. I had a side of hush puppies that were soft and moist on the inside, letting off a little bit of steam with the first bite. I didn’t have to be wheeled out, but I was challenged to finish my portion.
You can appreciate Bless My Soul Cafe’s desire to be just innovative enough with classic Creole dishes. We should all value independent chefs who cook in their own kitchens, especially like Sweet Mama Janisse, who still regularly participates in (and wins) competitions and strives for superior versions of classic Creole dishes.
Bless My Soul Cafe, located at 29 Fifth Street in Eureka, is open Mondays through Thursdays from 3pm to 9pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 3pm to 10pm. For reservations, call (707) 443-1090.
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