Taste of Alligator and Muffaletta at Swampwater Grill (Cincinnati Travel)

“The Muffaletta Po’ Boy isn’t a burger.  It’s a sandwich,” says the waitress taking my order.  Unfortunately the official website wouldn’t let me zoom into the menu and since the letters were tiny, I faintly saw the words meat and cheese, and wrongfully assumed it was a burger.  The waitress explained how the sandwich came with salami, olives, cheese, and sauce.

After swallowing my embarrassment and adding on a side order of Alligator bites, I was excited to finally try Louisiana-inspired food for the first time.  Attached to the Swampwater Grill is Riverside Centre Antiques, a quaint store with interesting collectibles, and I enjoyed seeing a fez labeled “Syrian Aide” before smelling the intense restaurant aromas. I got my meal to go with a side of water, ready to enjoy it with the cool breeze on the sunny fall afternoon.

 

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Gator doesn’t taste too peculiar, despite with my aversion to most seafood (I’ve never been a fan of chewy textures and smells).  Before the visit I’ve tasted Alligator jerky from Jungle Jim’s which was very delicious with the spice flavorings.   Perhaps the bites are dulled down due to them covered in fried batter, but to me it tasted a little bit like chicken with a chewier consistency, different from the flaky texture of the jerky.  It’s what I would imagine eating shark tastes like– bland without any spices.  They come with a savory sauce and jalapenos, which did surprise my taste buds, but the fatty texture combined with the fried outside (I’m not a big fried food lover) turned me off, and I ended up not eating any more.

The true “wow” moment for me came when I took a bite of the Muffaletta sandwich, and my taste buds applauded.  The salami and olives paired with the creamy sauce and onions was like hearing “Alleluia” for the first time, and it was more than enough food–I ended up taking seconds to work for lunch.

Left is the Gator bites, Right shows the Muffaletta with some fried okra

If you’ve had Gator, did you like it? Let me know in the comments!

2 comments

  1. I’ve had alligator a few times and in a few different forms. The first time was deep fried. I found that to be pretty boring – it could just as easily have been chicken tenders. A few years later I had alligator sausage in New Mexico – that was good, but in that case again, the alligator flavour didn’t come through. It tasted like sausage.

    From 2014 onwards I’ve done a lot of work in central Louisiana. Of course when I’m there I eat a lot of local foods. I’ve had alligator a few different ways there and the conclusion has always been the same: meh. Not interesting enough to use it in place of chicken.

    On one trip when I was down there I got a hotel room with a kitchen and did a bunch of cooking. I was curious to try making some of the Asian food I love with local ingredients. (I was surprised to find that no restaurants seem to do that). And so, I did some experimentation. Crawfish in a Thai curry tastes amazing. It compliments the fish well. But the alligator? I tried to make a Thai curry with that and it was really disappointing. The texture wasn’t as good as chicken and the flavour about the same (you can see a photo in this entry here if you’re curious: https://gooutsidetoday.com/2017/07/11/how-i-manage-business-travel-part-two-being-where-you-are/)

    So if you have a chance to go for some Louisiana style food again – I highly recommend going for crawfish of any sort if you’re a fan of shellfish / seafood. It’s especially good at a crawfish boil but that’s harder to find and expensive outside the area.

    Like

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