Food has always been really important in my family. Thekitchen’s always been a place of gathering. We had an eclectic mix of food for real. My dad was from thesouth but my parents both lived out in California so there was all sorts offood from fried chicken to Indian stuff that I don’t know how to pronounce. All sorts of weird stuff. I remember a Korean friend movinginto town and I didn’t really know him at the time but he comes over for dinnerone night and he asks my mom, he’s like “you sure y’all are from around here?You don’t really eat like it."
We eat some I guess more traditional southern food and weeat Korean food with all sorts of glass noodles and bulgogi and all sorts ofjunk. Squid jerky. It’s really salty. Lots of Cuban food. Blackbeans and rice. Fried plantains. I really like this Cuban dish that’s reallyjust shredded beef that’s fried until it’s crispy and then you eat that withsome black beans and rice. And fried plantains.
My dad cooked a lot growing up. My mom’s very into health food. My dad very muchwas not. He cooked mostof the meals. He did a lot of chili. That’s his favorite, and like soups. He’djust kinda take whatever was around.I cook a good bit. All of my brothers and sisters cook. Atleast know their way around in a kitchen. It’s kind of vital. Growing up, ifyou cooked you didn’t have to clean up and we had five kids and two parents soeverybody wanted to cook because nobody wanted to clean up.
Just as soon as I was old enough I wanted to dowas my brothers were doing, what my dad was doing. One of the earliest memories I have in our house is my dadteaching me how to flip an egg when I was still standing on a stepstool to getto the top of the stove. I sous-chef a lot for real. My brother likes to cook a wholelot so he’s generally over at our house and he’s usually on the stove. But Iusually go for like Italian. Noodles and sauce is pretty simple. Some gnocchi,some ratatouille or whatever. It’s all the same junk. Soups and chili.
My mom would cook more like Indian food and curries. Shewould cook all sorts of weird mixes but she also cooks like down home; what shecalled “cathead biscuits.” And they be like big old chunks of stuff to putgravy on. It would be like a whole wheat lump of biscuit-like doughabout the size asyou fist. About theshape of a cat’s head.
I guess they owned a restaurant. In Louisvillethey had like a little hippie joint. Kinda making I guess California food typeof deal. I don’t know. Like weird hippie vegetable food that’s good for you.Indian stuff. It was called Trader Inn I think. They had like “if your wifecan’t cook trade ‘er in.”
If you ask most people in New Orleans, they'll tell you the same thing; Camellia Grill is one of the best diner style restaurants in New Orleans. In fact, when looking through Yelp reviews I could only find a single review less than 3 stars from a New Orleanian. There are however, a number of reviews to the contrary opinion, almost exclusively written by tourists.
My personal favorite unfavorable review on Yelp comes from Lauren R. of Virginia Beach, Virginia. This review also shines light on and important element of eating at Camellia Grill. Aside from things like the waffles, pies, and the veggie omelet, the menu at Camellia Grill is very limited for its vegetarian customers.
Many reviews, both favorable or unfavorable, complain about the wait, a crucial component of the Camellia Grill experience. In most cases, the wait does not significantly affect the rating, but some say that the wait is not worth it.
Part of what people seem to like about Camellia Grill, aside from the food, is the atmosphere, as well as the waitstaff. Many rank it very highly, even though they say the food is nothing special, simply because of these factors. They rave about the outgoing nature of the waiters and and chefs which many say make the experience.
There does however seem to be another near consensus about Camellia Grill. Most reviews mention that eating at Camellia Grill is best when taking part in one of the most important New Orleans traditions: Drinking (something the author has NOOOOO experience with). Many reviewers complain about the wait to eat at Camellia around breakfast time. Most of these are also from out of town, and after asking around about the restaurant I found that few people actually ate there at breakfast, despite mostly eating food usually associated with breakfast.
Eating at Camellia grill says a few things about a person. First, they do not care that the meal they are about to eat is going to likely cause them to eventually have a heart attack or at least severe gastric disturbance. Second, you are not some one who cares greatly about service and convenience. Last, if one goes during the late night hours.....well, we all know what that says about a person.