I have high expectations when I see Cajun food on a menu,. After all, it’s a cuisine built around integrity, tradition and freshness. That’s not what I found at Bayou Cafe. I do enjoy the exposed brick and dark wood funkiness – and the awesome, open–window view of the river. I arrived early for lunch, but placated myself with a very nicely made Bloody Mary to await the chef. I chose a sampler platter: seafood gumbo, crawfish etouffee and jambalaya. The accompanying salad was indeed fresh, crisp and tasty, despite its simplicity of torn greens, some carrot shreds and tomato. When my sampler plate arrived, I was greeted with three coffee mugs filled with equally unintelligible dishes. Picking my way through, I did figure out what was what, but it was too late. At this point, I had discovered that each mug o’ chow was barely warm, the few rice kernels at the bottom of each mug were tasteless and the main dishes were warmed over, pasty versions of what could have been an awesome experience. Sausage in the jambalaya was tasty and plentiful, tiny bits of crawfish were equally enjoyable and the shrimp in the seafood gumbo was sweet. Sadly, the pasty roux and bad temps ruined the meal. If you can’t make it fresh, stick with wings and other convenience apps and play up the fact that Bayou Cafe is probably best known as a late night hangout with live music and good drinks in a funky Southern atmosphere.
14 N. Abercorn St. Ramp (on River Street)/233–6411
Bites and pieces...
I stopped in at the ribbon cutting of The Mirage on Broughton Street, a Mediterranean restaurant and hookah bar with some promise. A sampler buffet revealed nicely made stuffed grape leaves, naturally spicy hummus and other goodies all concocted in-house. Chef Kenneth will have his hands full keeping up with hungry diners. Congrats to Tony and Red Marsid on their opening – I’ll be back!
While trolling the streets, I also noticed that Cilantro’s next to Ruth’s Chris is now open. Expect the usual comforting Mexican–inspired food in a beautifully appointed space. The location in Garden City is a favorite – and I welcome the chance to visit the downtown location.