The Restaurant: Gumbo Girl Seafood Restaurant is fairly new to the restaurant scene in Jackson, having celebrated its ribbon cutting in the summer of 2016 and opening its doors in the Fall of 2015. Prior to its current storefront, Gumbo Girl was known in the holiday catering industry for all things Cajun. Owned by the husband and wife duo, Marilyn and James Kithuka, this new and delightful family-style restaurant touts its fresh ingredients and home-style recipes. Recently voted “Best Gumbo” in the Jackson Free Press – Best of Jackson 2017, there’s no secret this place is here to stay.
The Atmosphere: If you were to judge a book by its cover, you may find yourself surprised by what awaits once you enter Gumbo Girl. The restaurant is located next to Cisco Gas Station at 5681 Highway 18 W. Ste. C. Parking can be a pain, as there are limited spaces for patron parking designated for Gumbo Girl. However, that is a small inconvenience compared to what you discover once inside. Somewhat reminiscent of home and boutique décor, the interior and wallscapes are adorned with all things representative of Gumbo Girl, with stylistic flair.
Central to the décor was a sign that read: kitchen [kichuhn] – noun: a gathering place for friends and family. A place where memories are homemade and seasoned with love. This sign seemed as central to the atmosphere and model for this family restaurant as it was to the decorations.
The Menu, the Food & the Service: I was greeted as I entered the restaurant by staff and ushered to the counter to place my order. I then awaited my order at a table siting for two, where I had the choice of comfy wicker chairs with pillow cushions, standard restaurant seating, bar seating, or raised cocktail seating. Along with ease of dining comfort, there was easy listening music piped throughout the establishment. While I waited on my meal, several others began to come in, one after another, and soon all but one table for four were accounted for. It was clear, location and distance were no hindrance to this restaurant during the lunch hour for those who sought Cajun goodness.
As I awaited my meal, James came out to greet patrons and thank us for choosing to dine with them. Shortly thereafter, the waitress arrived and to my delight she said “We’ve got you all ready, Carlyn” as she sat my platter in the table before me. For a moment, I felt as though I had been teleported from a restaurant and had graced Marilyn’s home kitchen table.
Now for my dish, I chose The “Pot” – Cajun Spicy Seasoned Turkey Necks, potatoes drizzled in drawn butter and Cajun seasonings, accompanied by corn on the cob and sausage. Because this is a seafood restaurant after all, I added-on a side of shrimp, ¼ lb. to be exact, to add a bit of “surf” to my turkey turf. The dish is exceptional and the portions are plentiful. With the perfect measure of spice and “heat” which sneaks upon you after the fact, this dish was seasoned to my liking. Speaking of heat, I ordered a tea with my meal just as they were awaiting the completion of a fresh batch. So, there was a slight delay in my beverage order. However, the waitress offered me a tea to go without my prompting and apologized for the delay once my beverage arrived. Again, a very small inconvenience to have at the expense of having fresh tea. For a southern girl, that’s a sip of summertime heaven.
After I completed my meal, Marilyn appeared from the kitchen to thank patrons for dining with them. She inquired about our delight with our meals and asked if we needed any additional condiments. Marilyn and I chatted a bit about her home recipes and the care with which she prepares each and every dish fresh and from scratch, down to the desserts. Between Marilyn and her husband, James, they are intentional on ensuring you feel welcomed and satisfied.
They succeeded. I felt welcomed, I left satisfied, and I will be back for more Cajun cuisine and conversations. In fact, by the time you read this, I will have already been back for the shrimp tacos and gumbo. For information on weekly specials at Gumbo Girl, follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/gumbogirlbiz/