My partners of eating and I have been attending the Crawdad festival for several years, and had our routine down pretty well, Ernie's restaurant for an early crawdad lunch, then hit the festival. As usual things change; Ernie's restaurant had a terrific bucket of "bugs" with bread lunch meal, but changed ownership and name to "Isleton Joe's". The new owners insisted that the food was even better than it used to be, but, we couldn't eat crawdads in the main restaurant, only outside on a sweltering patio with some obnoxious band playing bad blues. Ok, we order, just hoping that things hadn't changed too much. My boyfriend went to pick up the bucket, which was now being served in a styrofoam container, to see the outdoor cooks cutting open bags of precooked, frozen crawdads from Louisiana, thawing them in boiling water. Just the styrofoam container, a wad of napkins and some very thin paper plates. No bread, no customer service, except for the owner coming by the table every once in a while to tell us that the food must be much better now. Well, the crawdads looked seasoned on the outside, but tasted like fishy library paste on the inside. The guys next to us brought their own seasoning salt, but even they complained to the owner. I want to say that the wait-staff, previously employed by Ernie's, were very sympathetic to returning customers and I could see they were uncomfortable with the changes, taking a lot of heat from both the owners and the customers. I sort of hope the place goes out of business, but don't want to see the staff lose their jobs.
Inside the festival, we had better luck with the local crawdad boil and the awesome Willy Bird turkey legs.