Two and a half years after it first opened on Aloma Avenue in Winter Park, Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen has a second location in Altamonte Springs. The new restaurant, on State Road 436, occupies a space in a strip mall recently renamed Tibby’s Plaza. I stopped by a couple of weeks ago while the staff was undergoing preview dinner training.
Like the original, the menu features authentic New Orleans fare. Also like the original, the food here is about as close as anyone in Central Florida has come to presenting a real taste of the Big Easy.
I was intrigued by the muffuletta spring rolls, which had all the things you’d find in the iconic sandwich -- salami, mortadella, ham, swiss cheese, provolone and olive relish -- but inside an egg roll wrapper instead of the round loaf of bread. The flavors said muffuletta but the texture said egg roll. I think next time I would just go with the real deal, which is also available here.
For my entree I chose the combo of jambalaya, crawfish pie and file gumbo. Both the gumbo and the jambalaya were excellent. The soup had a wonderfully dark rouxy base with good chunks of chicken and spicy andouille sausage, topped with a bit of fluffy white rice. The jambalaya had sausage and vegetables cooked into the rice. The crawfish pie had the little shellfish packed into a turnover-like pastry shell and deep fried. It just didn’t do much for me.
I liked the crawfish in the etouffee, however. A more tomatoey roux served as the base with plump, chewy bits of crawfish and vegetables swimming around an island of rice.
For dessert, the bread pudding was crazy good. Big, buttery and gooey with sauce.
New Orleans is known for its specialty drinks. Skip the sugary Hurricane and try the Heminway, fashioned after the one served at the restaurant August. It has rum, grapefruit juice and Fresca with mint. Very refreshing.
Tibby’s is the project of Brian Wheeler of Tijuana Flats fame and he created the restaurant in honor of his uncle Walter Tabony. He’s decorated the restaurant with Louisianabilia and Mardi Gras regalia. Anyone who has stumbled down Bourbon Street will notice a few recognizable signs and decorations. If you get bored with your companions -- or you just can’t hear them above the din of the restaurant -- you can amuse yourself by the surroundings.
Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen is at 494 W. SR 436, Altamonte Springs (west of I-4). It is open for lunch and dinner daily. Here is a link to Tibby's website, where the full menu is available for download. Prices for entrees range from $12 to $22, although sandwiches and po’boys can be had for less. The phone number is 407-951-6928.