The Hub

An Anne & Steve review

The Hub - Best Jambalaya We’ve Ever Had.

The back room
This is one a restaurant that we have been looking forward to going to for a while and even more so since we’ve heard great things about it from Thor Wickstrom, a local artist and a regular customer, who raved to us about the blackened chicken and fish as well as the $4 glass of house red. It is right on Main Street, has great atmosphere, and is well lit and comfy. The long but wide enough railroad car-like space has red and yellow painted walls with white and black checkered floors. There are large framed black and white reproductions of North Adams downtown on the walls harking back to when it was just an old fashioned mill town. The furniture is natural wood and comfortable. Kate, the owner, greets you with a big warm smile and is right there managing the cheery and attentive staff and makes sure everything is perfect on the busy floor. The open kitchen separates the front room from the back room at the center. The center of the action is the wooden bar in front of the large flat screen TV. The bar and the restaurant have a real down home friendly quality yet there is a hint of arty hipness. The unique menu selections are designed to satisfy anyone’s palate, adult or child, and there is the ever present sense of the Cajun Chef wanting to take things over which separates this from most other restaurants in the area.

We began with a home made bowl of carrot ginger soup and large platter of superb beer battered onion rings. Anne had the grilled chicken sandwich topped with bacon, cheese, tomato, lettuce and red onion with a side of fries hold the bread (because she’s gluten-free) which she devoured and enjoyed, plenty of food for a full meal and don’t forget the tasty pickles.

Steve had the Jambalaya and it was the best he’s ever had. The side salad was a fresh mélange and full of nice ingredients. The balsamic vinaigrette was well made and flavorful.

We had freshly brewed ice tea since it was the middle of the day, but there is a full bar including a nice selection of beers and wines. The food includes everything from hamburgers to homemade soups to vegetarian spring rolls and roast beef melts.

Now on to the Jambalaya...
In a long lost in Austin past I was, believe it nor not, a Cajun seafood cook at a place called Momma’s Money and I don’t doubt for one second that along with the cash came some very old recipes from Port Arthur where my boss was from. I learned what I could but one summer does not a Cajun cook make although I did have the honor of cooking gumbo and other Cajun specialties for the likes of Stevie Ray and Jimmie (Vaughn), Clifton (Chenier), and Billy (Gibbons) so if I didn’t hear anybody’s complaints then I was OK for a Yankee as they like to say down there but praise? Nah, you don’t get praise for cooking just what is a daily thing down in those parts where the life is partitioned by various regional and family versions of the same basic dishes.

When we went to The Hub recently we had what we believe is the best Jambalaya we’ve ever had and the menu states that the chef is trained and experienced (10 years) in Cajun cuisine and the flavor and spice of this dish was spectacular. The freshness of the ingredients, the perfect texture of the rice, the subtle clear chopped tomato broth and the carefully selected shrimp, chicken and andouille sausage pieces were heavenly and divine and I thought to myself that this was possibly the most "authentic" version of this dish.

So before going off half-cocked and writing this review I first consulted with a woman of Creole ancestry that I know born and raised in the lower 9th ward of New Orleans who knows her food and knows how the dishes are supposed to be prepared. She explained to me that as far as Jambalaya is concerned there is first the basic difference of whether it’s cooked in a Cajun or Creole style. She also added that her family argues all the time about what when where and how these dishes are prepared. The Cajun style of cooking really originates in Lafayette or Baton Rouge where the first language is still mostly a French derivation. Their Cajun style is a brown sauce based Jambalaya made brown from the drippings of the different sautéed meats that go into it: andouille sausage, chicken and whatever else they got to put in there. While the Creole tradition from New Orleans is more seafood based because it’s "by the ports".

The New Orleans Jambalaya is a tomato sauce based dish that we Northerners see most. It begins with the holy trinity: celery, onion and bell pepper cooked with the rice in the meat/fish broth. Garlic, chopped tomato chuncks and a whole bunch of Cajun spice is what probably made The Hubs stellar best of both worlds version and one heck of a dish no matter where you’re from.

For good quality and for not too big a bill we recommend The Hub with no reservations

The Hub
quality diner/pub
55 Main St
North Adams, Ma 01247