Okay, I sort of blew it on this one. MC and I spent some time in late March visiting and eating in the Lafayette, LA area. We got busy after the trip and I did not report on any of the restaurants/food. While I won't have the details, I still want to report on our experience. Disclaimers: my brother-in-law lives in Lafayette. He scouts restaurants and sends me a list of options. It is difficult to have a bad experience in any of his selections. Second: we had additional family there, coming in from FL. So, a somewhat different experience than my wife and I dining on our own. Visiting was as important as food. Finally, you may notice a theme in most of our meals. Access to seafood is very limited where we now live. Our visits to Louisiana tend to focus on oysters and shrimp.
On our way to Lafayette, we spent the night in Memphis. While we have sampled some good restaurants there, we generally just go hang out on Beale St, and listen to music. There is really not much in the way of blues or jazz. Still, it is fun to just walk around and go in the various clubs. The clubs have increased their offering of local microbrews. A welcome change. After Beale, we went to Huey's for a burger and local beers. That is our late night go-to place.
The next day we stopped in Jackson, MS at Hal and Mel's. Again, our go-to place on our way to Louisiana. MC had an excellent spinach/oyster salad. It had plenty of oysters to share. I ordered a seafood gumbo. Again to share. It is hard for me to admit that Mississippi folks can compete with Louisiana on gumbos and oysters. But they can.
Olde Tyme Grocery: our first outing in Lafayette. Crowded as usual. Normally our go-to place for Po Boys (the best in Louisiana, in my humble opinion). Since it was Friday, we decided to try their seafood plate special. We were rather disappointed in the oysters. They were small, and just okay on the taste. We will go back to the Po Boys on our next visit. We have never been disappointed before.
Shucks in Abbeville: MC and I started with a seafood gumbo and a smoked duck/andouille gumbo. Both, especially the duck/andouille dish, were quite good. We also tasted the crawfish etouffee. Then, on to the oysters. Here they were large, tasty, and plentiful. We had them on the half shell, as oyster stew, and fried (hey, it is the south). They were accompanied by several local beers. I think the local beer selection could have been better (no IPA's or Ales), but I am happy to see that some local beers are developing in the area.
The French Press, Lafayette: Now we get to the more interesting food. MC and I had an order of fried oysters. We are talking about very lightly fried, probably the best we had on this trip. I then had Cajun Benedict. Wonderful. Toasted french bread as the base. Then two poached eggs, covered with boudin from Hebert's, and chicken /andouille gumbo. A lovely, messy dish. I swiped more french bread from my sister-in-law to sop up all of the gravy. Of course there was french press coffee, and wine and/or mixed drinks. I had a bourbon concoction, with mint and a local syrup, maybe bitters to offset the sweetness. It was fun, though I generally enjoy bourbon over ice.
MC had an Acadian Breakfast Sandwich: Bacon, egg, cheese and boudin, on a local bread, served texas toast style. Not quite as messy or as good as mine, but good nevertheless.
Fezzo's in Scott: Okay, back to Louisiana seafood. Between MC and I, we had a seafood gumbo (crab, crawfish, and shrimp) which was good, and an excellent crawfish bisque. Followed, of course by oysters on the half shell. The oysters were once again very good. But the main course was frog legs. Fezzo's has the best frog legs we have ever experienced. They did not disappoint on this trip.
We went back to Fezzo's on our way home. We sat at the bar and each had an oyster po boy, which were quite good. I again sampled a local beer, as MC was the designated driver.
Johnson's Boucaniere, Lafayette: What a fun take on BBQ. They smoke their own meat, 11-13 hours. They make their own boudin and sausage and bbq sauce. They obtain their meats, veggies and bread from local sources. Between the six of us, we tasted a smoked garlic sausage po boy, brisket, pulled pork with sausage, pulled chicken with sausage, and ribs with boudin as a side. MC and I split an order of chicken and sausage gumbo. The wait staff are very friendly and helpful.
All of this was eaten outside, at a picnic table, on a pretty day. They also play local artists over their sound system. How good can it get.
Boudin: We sampled boudin from four or five places, including Hebert's, One Stop, Don's, Ray's and Billy's (these latter two in Opelousas). I've lost my notes but I do remember that, as usual, One Stop was my favorite (even in blind tests). Herbert's was a close second, and I love the spiciness of Don's as a change-up. I find Ray's has too much rice. On the other hand, the brother-in-law from FL prefers Ray's. That is the great thing about boudin--each little specialty meat place makes it's own, with their own mix of seasoning, meat and rice.
The trip was focused on family and food. One more thing (not food related) made it a special trip. We will have been married 50 years this August. While in the area, we walked around the UL college campus, and sat in the same area where I proposed to MC. We then went to the St. Landry church in Opelousas where we were married. It is a beautiful, cathedral sized church. It was closed when we arrived. However, a very nice guy who was working on the lawn let us in. It was as stunning as I remembered. And, then, of course, we went to one of the above restaurants.
We bought Louisiana shrimp, boudin, crawfish, and sausage (all frozen) back with us. We stopped at a little grocery/food store on the Blues Highway in Mississippi for tamales. I started talking to some guys hanging around outside the store. When they found out I had the above mentioned items in the car, they quickly started bidding for some of it. Apparently someone would come through and sell said products from a truck. However, the truck had not shown up this year. They reluctantly accepted that I plan to share my booty with family, and that I would not sell for any price.
We spent the night in Memphis on the way back. Again, just fun and relaxing to hang out on Beale. We did start out at Rendezvous for ribs. This our second time there. I really want to like the place. It just doesn't work for us. Perhaps the dry ribs. I don't know. So, at some point in the late hours, back to Huey's to split a burger and have a brew.