Bonjou to everyone out there in the blogosphere! Welcome to another edition of Mastication Monologues where I review restaurants and recount any funny/interesting happenings along the way. Today I will be reviewing Heaven on Seven which is located at 224 S. Main Street, Naperville, IL 60540.
For those who have never heard of this establishment, it serves mainly creole/Cajun food. What this means is that the food can be found mainly in/around New Orleans/Louisiana. In every recipe you can see influences which reflect the diversity and history of the area from which this food comes. In one dish, there can be Spanish spices, African vegetables, and it’s all prepared using French cooking techniques. Another important element of Cajun cuisine the presence of extra spicy eats which I naturally gravitated to when looking over the menu. When we first walked into the building, it seemed like it was Mardi Gras with streamers passing overhead throughout the entire dining room, and the entire wall of hot sauces let me know that I was in the right place. There were also probably ten bottles of different hot sauces that ranged all the way from the more mild Tabasco sauce all the way to the colorfully named, “Ass in Space” among others…
Along with the hot sauce bottles, we were also greeted with a free basket of sliced French bread. It was fresh but not warm, but the accompanying spreads were both new to me. One was honey butter which tasted like regular butter with a moderate sweet aftertaste, and the other spread was bean paste. It was a fitting savory compliment to its sweet predecessor, but I didn’t care for it much. The waitress also provided us with a side of free pickles with mustard seeds and onions. I preferred this hybrid salad over the bread because the cucumbers were not completely pickled and interacted with the semi-bitter mustard seeds to create an almost sweet aftertaste. It was a bizarre mix of textures and competing flavors that somehow worked. We started the meal off with the Hot As A Mutha appetizer which consisted of a habanero chile stuffed with chihuahua cheese and surrounded by peach puree and peach salsa. Personally, I didn’t think it was worth the money since they only give you one gigantic pepper, but the presentation was somewhat elegant as the diced peaches and light dusting of cayenne pepper on the plate offset the cumbersome-looking pepper in the middle of the display. They didn’t pull any punches with the habanero since they left the seeds in the pepper, and the cheese was plentiful/tasty. I also appreciated the integration of peaches with the habanero because they provided a cooling, sweet snap of the flavor whip to keep the roaring spiciness lioness at bay.
For my main entrée, I chose the Po’ Boy sandwich with the Angry Chicken option which came along with a cup of gumbo. The gumbo was quite hearty and topped with a mini-mound of white rice that was steamed to perfection. I never had an andouille gumbo, but this concoction was perfect with a dash of Tabasco Habanero since it really brought out the spiciness of the sausage. As for my sandwich, it was kind of hard to actually eat as a sandwich because the contents were too overwhelming for the bread. So, I had to cut the chicken into small pieces and use each piece of lightly toasted baguette as an individual sandwich. As for its spiciness, I don’t know if my tastebuds are dead from so many years of eating really spicy food, but it really was not that spicy. I even put on some extra hot sauce to give it a bigger kick, but I was disappointed in the spice factor. However, the chicken breading was crunchy and had a great blend of savory spices. The meat was succulent and plentiful. The accompanying lettuce and tomatoes did not add much to the dish, and the latter were grainy. I think this is due to them being out of season. I finished with it quite quickly which shocked our waitress when I told her it wasn’t even spicy. She looked a bit frightened and informed me of these spicy dinners they do for people who love spicy food. Looks like I have another challenge on my hands for another day!
So if you’re looking for a little slice of the spicy, deep-fried Dirty South north of the Mason Dixon line, check out Heaven on Seven.