I always like it when a chain restaurant can make me eat my usual dismissive words, and Copeland’s of New Orleans in the Shackleford Crossing shopping center is one of the tastiest times I’ve ever had doing it. On a day when we wound up getting disappointing service from a local favorite, it was nice to experience the friendly and efficient service provided by the staff at Copeland’s – and the food was pretty tasty, too. Jess and her mom had eaten there before, but it was my first time; and while their food is a bit pricey, it’s good and the portions are so huge that there’s no way a normal person could ever think about leaving hungry. I’m a pretty big eater, and even though I skipped breakfast and ordered a lunch portion I still wound up stuffed. Copeland’s is a spacious and friendly restaurant, and we’ll definitely be going back.
Because it was lunch and we had some shopping to do afterward, we didn’t sample any of Copeland’s drinks on this visit, but we did start off with an order of Crawfish Bread, toasted French bread topped with spinach, artichokes, Alfredo sauce, crawfish tails, and Monterrey Jack cheese. The bread was firm and chewy – and it was surprisingly capable of holding up the copious toppings. I was happy to be able to actually taste the crawfish tails among all that other stuff – all too often they’re just chewy little flavorless bits. We also started with bowls of Copeland’s Gumbo and their Crab and Corn Bisque. The gumbo was respectable, although nothing outstanding, but Jess and I enjoyed the bisque a great deal. Creamy soup loaded with sweet corn and lump crab meat – a perfect combination of flavor and texture that I didn’t expect to like nearly as much as I did.
For my entrée, I ordered the Eggplant Pirogue: two slices of crisp-fried breaded eggplant over linguine and topped with spicy Alfredo sauce, shrimp, and crab claws. Well, okay, to be honest, it was just one crab claw – even though the menu was pretty clear that there were going to be claws present in numbers greater than one. That’s my only complaint with the dish, though, as the eggplant was firm and sweet and the pasta was only just on the edge of being overcooked (which is honestly where I like it). The shrimp were flavorful and the creamy sauce didn’t overpower the dish but was great for sopping with the bread Copeland’s serves with all their dishes: a strange hybrid of a biscuit and a dinner roll that was interesting and tasty. I love eggplant, but I usually don’t order it because it comes out soggy and bitter – Copeland’s did neither.
Jess’ entrée was called Catfish Acadiana, which is just a fancy name for a huge filet of fried catfish. It came served with a “creamy shrimp butter sauce” which reminded me of sausage gravy made with shrimp instead of sausage – strange, but rather tasty. The fish was tender and mild tasting, and the breading was very good, almost like a chicken batter. For her sides, she got some rather bland and uninspiring mashed potatoes and a crazy-decadent macaroni and cheese. Honestly, just to say “mac n’ cheese” and conjure up the blue box really doesn’t do this stuff any justice at all – it was rich and creamy and loaded with cheese and crisp bacon. I took a few bites, and while I found it delicious it was far too rich for me. I’ve got to give Copeland’s some credit for the side dish – it really delivered more than any side dish has any right to do (pay attention, mashed potatoes).
Copeland’s of New Orleans is located at 2602 Shackleford Road, in the Shackleford Crossing shopping center, and they’re open for lunch and dinner. It’s one of the better places serving up Creole-style food in the area, and well worth a try if you’re in the area. Enjoy!