The Steam Room Grille was a steak/lobster restaurant in a highly visible location on the I-55 North service road. Despite passing it thousands of times, I never stopped by to eat. Apparently I was not the only person who drove past it without stopping, because it shut down in the latter part of 2010. However, the Grille recently moved and rebranded itself as the Downtown Cafe.
Located on Capitol Street in the bottom floor of the former Club Touch / Taste Lounge* building, the Downtown Cafe offers a variety of plate lunches, poboys, wraps and burgers. In other words, it is a typical Jackson lunch spot. As it was Monday and all restaurants within a 200 miles radius of New Orleans are required to offer red beans and rice on Mondays, we went with…the red beans and rice. Ha, you thought I was going to say the catfish poboy didn’t you?
Despite the horrible picture, it was actually a pretty good plate of red beans, rice and sausage. The beans were well-seasoned and cooked al dente, rather than the mush that is sometimes served. The sausage had some bite, and the Cafe offers both Tabasco and Louisiana brand hot sauces. Not bad for $7.95.
You have the choice of two sides from a list of approximately two thousand. The skillet corn was a tasty choice that, once properly salted and peppered, hit the spot. The greens were cooked with some type of pork product and were therefore elevated to delicious status. The cornbread was dense and sweet, just like my dog.
Overall, the Steam Room Grille Downtown Cafe is a long-named, worthwhile addition to the downtown lunch scene. Others have noted that the ordering system – you order and pay at the counter – is dysfunctional and causes a long, slow-moving line to develop. Fortunately, we evaded those problems and our food was brought to our table within minutes.
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* A classy establishment whose passing will be missed. Also known as the former Gator’s and CatWalk building.