The food in the average food court usually isn’t worth writing about — and barely worth eating. Since most food courts are located in shopping malls or casinos, they tend to offer enough predictable fast-food chains to fill the bellies of the masses without distracting them from the real reason they’re there: to shop or gamble.
The Internet Café food court is very different. Presumably named after the building’s previous function, it’s a stand-alone food court near College of Southern Nevada’s West Charleston campus. And none of its vendors are even close to predictable. Manna Restaurant offers Korean cuisine that includes spicy squid and kimchi stew. Tacos El Jefe’s has a wide variety of Mexican dishes. Wing King offers 60 flavors of chicken wings. And Counter Cuisine specializes in health food.
Any one of those would justify its own review. But the spot that caught my attention this week is Weeziana Gumbo, which offers Louisiana cooking worthy of the French Quarter.
The menu here isn’t terribly large, but it hits all the basics. It offers two types of gumbo: classic Creole seafood ($7-$9) and N’Awlins chicken ($5-$7). You can get shrimp, fish or hot-link po’ boys ($5-$8). The seafood section includes various fried seafood baskets ($5-$9), shrimp salad ($8), shrimp Creole ($9) and a lobster claw ($4). And the section marked “lagniappe” (technically a small gift given to a customer) is a collection of classic sides, such as fried okra ($2), hush puppies ($3), corn bread ($2) and red beans and rice ($2.50-$5).
While Weeziana is one of the more nicely decorated spots in this little restaurant collection, the atmosphere as a whole leaves a lot to be desired. Several stalls are badly in need of new paint, and the place just feels kind of dingy. If the weather is nice, there’s a pleasant little outside patio. If not, I’d advise getting your order to go and enjoying it at home, which is what I did on the rainy day I dined there.
The problem with takeout orders is that you can’t complain if your server forgets something. So I didn’t know until I got home that my “swamp meets sea critter” combo ($13) was missing a mysterious signature item known as “weeziecorn.” So I still have no idea what that is. The rest of the dish, however, was delicious. The large shrimp and three large catfish filets were coated in a well-seasoned cornmeal breading and perfectly fried. The hush puppies were crispy and delicious. The only things unremarkable were the fries, but fries rarely hold up well in takeout.
My shrimp po’ boy was even better, featuring the same shrimp on a nice hearty roll. At Weeziana, a “dressed” po’ boy comes with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, pickles, mayo and spicy mustard. I’ve never had a seafood po’ boy with mustard before, but as someone who always asks to hold the mayo, I found it to be a nice touch.
The high point of the meal was the N’awlins chicken gumbo. My small order ($5) was a little more than a cup. And the delicious dark roux was packed to the brim with chicken (on the bone), beef sausage, smoked turkey and kielbasa.
The only other disappointment was not being able to get bread pudding ($5) for dessert. The restaurant offers a different flavor each day. Unfortunately, by the time of my late-afternoon visit, it was sold out. Instead, I was forced to “settle” for an order each of pound cake ($3) and sweet potato pie ($2.50). Both were excellent, if a touch on the sweet side. I’m someone who believes a dessert can actually be too sweet, and both of these flirted with that line without quite crossing it. The cake was dense and delicious, while the pie featured a moist, flaky crust and a nice blend of spices in the filling that helped cut the sugar.
Weeziana Gumbo is an unassuming spot offering up really good food equal to what I find every time I visit The Big Easy. I can’t wait to get back to the Internet Café and explore its other offerings.
WEEZIANA GUMBO, 6475 W.Charleston Blvd., 822-4626. Read more about the Las Vegas dining scene on Al Mancini’s blog, www.almancini.net and follow him on Twitter @almancinivegas.