Toady, once again, I found myself first in line to try something new. Although the Bayou Cafe has been in the area (Manasquan) for quite a while now, and this new space on 32 W. Main St. in Freehold has been open for dinner for a few weeks too, today was their first day serving lunch. So, at noonish, Mrs. Seal and I were seated and ready to eat.
First of all, even though I am more a foodie than remotely interested in decor, even I have to admit they did a really nice job on the place. From the purple and gold color scheme to the big, airy space to the welcoming music, this is not your typical Freehold joint. If I closed my eyes I could easily imagine I was somewhere on Bourbon St.
I must confess that I went into lunch really wanting to like this place. Heaven knows we need some varied cuisine in the area, and anything not Italian or Mexican or Chinese is most welcome. Still, I have my high standards, so, wishing aside, I was prepared for anything. Thank goodness the food was up to the challenge.
We started off by sharing a big bowl of Creole Gumbo. I am such a gumbo snob that even the Gumbo Shop in New Orleans didn't thrill me, so the mere fact that we finished the large bowl says something. The broth was redolent of seafood, even though I didn't notice any pieces of seafood amidst the copious pieces of meat and vegetables. There was also some meat, but not the usual spicy sausage, and a bit of okra. I might have wanted it spicier and thicker, but it was good and my spice-averse wife liked it too.
Next we shared a plate of Barbeque Shrimp and a plate of Brown Stew Fish. There were a good amount of medium size shrimp covered with a thick, butter-based sauce over rice. Again, I wanted it spicier, but my wife loved it as it was so I was glad it was mild. The Brown Stew Fish was also mild but flavorful and full with fresh veggies. I also liked the beans and rice that accompanied it. Together we finished every last bit of both dishes.
As full as we were, we had previously decided to try the Bananas Foster. Even though I had made us Bananas Foster French Toast for breakfast yesterday, I am glad we ordered it. It was really good. Two scoops of ice cream and a sweet brown sauce full of bananas - what's not to like? I was also glad there was no flaming the dish at the table touristy stuff ;o)
So now I am thinking about returning there next week to celebrate Mardi Gras. If it wasn't so soon I would even think about trying to organize a Hound Get-together. But, one way or another, I am sure I will be eating there again soon.