Posts Tagged ‘Crawfish’

Lafayette Quickie – Prejean’s Restaurant

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 by virginia

DSC_6075

When I was researching Lafayette restaurants, Prejean’s came up often in my searches. The reviews were mixed; some said it shouldn’t be missed, others wrote it off as being too touristy. When we checked into our hotel, they offered us coupons from Prejean’s that advertised a free gumbo if we ate there and presented the card. To be honest, that was a bit of a turnoff for me, and I was ready to pass on going but when the restaurant that we wanted to try closed for lunch earlier than we expected, Prejean’s was our only option.

I really wanted to have crawfish etouffee while in the heart of Cajun country, but we were also pretty full from the three pounds of boiled crawfish that we had just put away, so I had Josh order just a side of etouffee rather than a whole entree. I figured it would be much less food, plus we had to eat in the car because J had fallen asleep on the drive over from Breaux Bridge, and we didn’t want to disturb her. The serving was a big cupful and more than enough. The sauce was buttery and creamy – very rich. There were tons of crawfish tails mixed in, which I appreciated. We spooned the etouffee over the white rice they provided on the side, and it was a wonderfully hearty and homey combination. The etouffee was a bit on the sweeter side, and had lots of paprika and other seasonings. I think we liked the original etouffee we tasted at the Acme Oyster House better, but this was still a good version.

Crawfish etouffee with rice

Crawfish etouffee with rice

We also got a crawfish enchilada appetizer, which is supposed to be another one of their specialties. The enchilada was actually pretty tasty, with lots of cheese melted on top and some tomato-y crawfish sauce to round out the flavor. I wished there were more crawfish tails wrapped inside the enchilada though, as they got a bit lost underneath all the cheese and sauce. But it was a nice twist on a shrimp enchilada, and I’m glad to have tried it.

Crawfish enchilada appetizer

Crawfish enchilada appetizer

Overall I don’t know if we could really pass judgment on Prejean’s, as we only got an appetizer and a side dish to go. The food we tasted was good but didn’t blow our minds. If we ever do make it back to Lafayette, there are still other places I want to try for crawfish etouffee.¬† However, the enchilada was a great segue into the next part of our trip – Texas. We hit the road for Houston after leaving Prejean’s, en route to some really amazing Tex Mex food.

Prejean’s Restaurant
3480 NE Evangeline Thruway
Lafayette, LA

The Fruit Stand / Foti’s Market & Cafe – Breaux Bridge, LA

Thursday, January 30th, 2014 by virginia

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When I was doing research on places to eat in or near Lafayette, I was primarily looking at restaurants that offered crawfish boils. Then I hit a snag – it wasn’t crawfish season. As a result, all of the places that I had on my list were closed or not offering boils this time of year. I was pretty disappointed but didn’t want to give up hope. When I saw that Breaux Bridge was the “Crawfish Capitol of the World”, I knew that it would be our best bet for finding live crawfish.

After our tasty breakfast at Meche’s Donut King, we asked the friendly young women behind the counter if they knew of anywhere to get boiled crawfish. They suggested either The Fruit Stand or Crazy ‘Bout Crawfish. The latter was right off the highway and looked a bit touristy, plus I couldn’t find a menu online that said if they were currently serving fresh crawfish. The Fruit Stand, on the other hand, looked like just that – a farmer’s market, not a restaurant. But there was a sign outside that said “boiled crawfish”, so we were pretty much sold.

Boiled crawfish!

Boiled crawfish!

The outer part of The Fruit Stand is Foti’s Market & Cafe, where you can order burgers, sandwiches, and other assorted grill/fry items. We went inside to the supermarket part of the store, which has assorted fruits, vegetables, seafood, and grocery items for sale. We asked about the live crawfish, which they said was fresh, but that because it was winter time, the specimens available were smaller, as the larger crawfish bury themselves deep in the mud to avoid the cold. We took a peek at the big bucket of crawfish, and they seemed pretty decent in size to us so we ordered up three pounds (the minimum) at $4.99/pound. We were asked how spicy we wanted the boil to be, and when we asked how spicy “spicy” was, it was recommended that we get the mild version. We didn’t argue, but wondered how spicy a boil could possibly be. Silly us.

We waited at a table back in the cafe area while they cooked up our crawfish, which was presented to us in a giant tray and topped with two boiled potatoes and a piece of corn on the cob. The crawfish were brilliant red in color, both from the shells and to the seasoning liberally applied.

Three pounds of boiled crawfish

Three pounds of boiled crawfish

After dropping off our tray, the guy who made the boil offered to rinse off some of the seasoning for us. We made the mistake of declining. Initially, the first few bites were great. The crawfish were sweet and perfectly cooked so that they were tender, not dried out or tough. The seasoning, which appeared to be predominantly salt, ground cloves, and cayenne pepper, had a nice kick. But gradually, that kick built. And built. Until we had tears in our eyes and runny noses. At first, we were cracking open and eating the tail meat, and then sucking on the heads. In the end, sucking on the heads proved to be too painful due to all the spice in the seasoning.

Crawfish and seasoning up close

Crawfish and seasoning up close

After drinking a lot of beer (me) and water (Josh, since he was driving) and chewing on the boiled potatoes, we decided to just take some time to let our mouths cool off while we shelled all of the tails at once. Once we were done shelling and had a mountain of crawfish meat in front of us, we wiped the spice off our hands as best as we could and proceeded to feast on the tail meat. I was sad to leave all the heads behind, but there was no way to get past the seasoning. Eventually, all I was tasting was the cloves and cayenne anyway, not the briny goodness of the head innards.

Tails, heads, and shells

Tails, heads, and shells

Considering this was our first crawfish boil, I thought we got through the mountain of crawfish well enough. We had no issues pulling off the heads and cracking open the tails with our hands. Even though these were off-season “smaller” crawfish, I didn’t find their size to be too puny, and the flavor was better than any frozen crawfish tails we’ve tasted before. The small size did prevent us from enjoying the claw meat, which yielded so little return that it was just not worth our effort to crack them open.

I have to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of the crawfish boil seasoning used here, as I have an aversion to cloves. I don’t know if most boil seasonings taste like cloves, but the flavor was really overwhelming after a while and I wished that we had chosen to have the crawfish rinsed before we ate them. But the crawfish themselves were obviously fresh (we saw them alive) and their meat was sweet and tender. At $4.99/pound, I would be buying many pounds if I had access to these back home. Next time, we’ll know better that “mild” is still “super spicy”. Overall, however, I was just thrilled to have found a place that prepared crawfish boil in the off-season.

The Fruit Stand/Foti’s Market & Cafe
200 W Mills Ave.

Breaux Bridge, LA

Hilton Head 2011 Day 4 – Old Fort Pub

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011 by virginia

On our last day in Hilton Head, Josh and I were supposed to fly out at 7 pm from Savannah, which would have gotten us back to NYC at around 9 pm. Around 1 pm, however, a few hours before we were headed to the airport (which is about 45 minutes from the island), Josh got notification that our flight had been cancelled due to weather. We weren’t sure where exactly the “weather” was, given that we were sitting at the pool at the time and the sky was clear and blue. We figured the bad weather was in NYC, where it was raining, but nothing out of the ordinary. After trying to figure out alternative routes home, including flying through Charlotte, we ultimately booked a flight for first thing in the morning. I was worried that we would get stuck in Charlotte and have to spend the night at the airport, whereas if we stayed in Hilton Head, at least we had a guaranteed place to sleep.

The cancellation of our flight was kind of bittersweet. I was looking forward to getting home and having a night to readjust before heading back to work the next day. Flying out at 6:30 am meant that we would have to get up around 3:30 am and take a 45 minute taxi ride from Hilton Head to Savannah. Our flight would get in at 8:30 am and I would have to go straight to work feeling tired and looking disheveled. On the upside, we got to finish out our day at the pool, and we were able to join everyone for dinner at the Old Fort Pub.

During our trip to Hilton Head last year, the Old Fort Pub was my favorite restaurant of all the places we went that year. Even though I was dreading our early departure the next day, I was excited to have the opportunity to go back to the Old Fort Pub. Luckily they were able to add us to the reservation on short notice without any issues. As we left for the restaurant, the sky grew ominously black, and it started to pour. In retrospect, perhaps our flight was cancelled because they were anticipating this rain for around the time our flight was scheduled to take off. In addition to the downpour, there was plenty of thunder and lightning.

The torrential rain slowed us up quite a bit, as it was hard to see out the windshield because it was raining so heavily. We wound up being late for our reservation, and the restaurant called to make sure we were still coming. We assured them that we were on our way and quite close, but that we hadn’t brought any umbrellas. They said it was no problem, and that someone would be out front to meet us. Sure enough, as we pulled up, there was a person (who later turned out to be our waiter) standing in the rain holding several umbrellas for us. Now that’s what I call service!

We all finally made it into the restaurant, safe and mostly dry. It did get a bit hairy when a lightning bolt must have struck very close to where we were standing; the thundering crack that it made was absolutely deafening (I almost jumped out of my skin), and we were all pretty spooked by it. Nevertheless, we were happy to finally be inside, and we settled in to enjoy our meal.

In a departure from our usual tactic of ordering two different things per course and then going halfsies, Josh and I both decided to order the she crab soup. She crab soup is probably our favorite lowcountry dish and it’s something we always want to eat when we’re in Hilton Head. The version at Old Fort Pub is a bit different from most other versions we’ve tried. It’s very thick and creamy, which I like, but it has a very strong sherry taste to it. While the sherry flavor cuts through the richness of the soup, it masks some of the crab flavor and is slightly bitter. I thought when we tried it last year that we had just gotten a particularly boozy batch, but it was exactly the same this year. It’s not a bad version, but I definitely prefer less sherry flavor.

She crab soup

For our main course, we shared the lamb chops and the bouillabaisse. The lamb chops were cooked rare, as requested, and served with a pea and bean cassoulet, braised collard greens, and roasted tomato jus. I’m not sure if the sauce on the plate was the tomato jus because it was dark red in color and syrupy, both in texture and in taste. It was slightly too sweet to match well with the lamb and clashed with the cassoulet and collards as well. The flavors really didn’t meld, and I was pretty disappointed with the dish.

Lamb chops with pea and bean cassoulet, braised collard greens, and roasted tomato jus

We enjoyed the bouillabaisse much more, which featured shrimp, scallops, crawfish, mussels, tasso ham, roasted tomatoes, and collards. The seafood was all nicely cooked, especially the scallops, and the broth was rich and flavorful thanks to the ham. I think there was some cream in there but it wasn’t overwhelming, and the¬†bouillabaisse was hearty and comforting.

Sea Island bouillabaisse

Overall I have to admit that most of us were pretty disappointed with our meal at the Old Fort Pub. Perhaps we had high hopes and expectations coming in, especially since we all had great prior meals there, but this particular visit didn’t measure up. The lamb chops didn’t work and there were also issues with the dishes that some other people in our group had. The upside to the experience was definitely the service. In addition to being nice enough to stand outside in the rain with umbrellas for us, our waiter was friendly, attentive, and efficient. I’m glad that we were able to spend an extra night in Hilton Head, though this meal was kind of a downer to end our vacation with. I don’t know if it was just an off night but for the price, I definitely expected more. It may have been our favorite restaurant last year, but now I have mixed feelings about the place. I think next year we’ll probably seek out some new restaurants to try.

Old Fort Pub
65 Skull Creek Dr.
Hilton Head, SC

Hilton Head Day 2 – Old Fort Pub

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 by virginia

I have to admit, the first time I heard about the Old Fort Pub was on Rachael Ray’s show, “$40 a Day.” Man, that show used to tick me off half the time. One single sushi roll does not equal dinner, no matter how dainty of an eater you are. Which she clearly was not. And having your husband buy you frozen hot chocolate? Also not fair in context of the show. But I digress! So on the Hilton Head episode, she had a sunset martini at the Old Fort Pub. Given the name, and the fact that she just had a drink there, not a meal, made me think that it was a casual bar on the water. So to my surprise, when Josh’s parents said they had a really nice meal there last year, I knew I wanted to check it out.

We had a reservation just in time for sunset, and it was a gorgeous evening. The dining room was a bit rustic but the main feature was the wall of windows that looked out onto the water, perfect for watching the sun go down. We stepped out onto the deck (you can also eat out there if you want) for a few quick photos:

We went back into the dining room and settled in to look over the menu. There were lots of different dishes that I wanted to try so it was hard for us to decide. Ultimately I ended up dictating to Josh what I wanted, and he being the amenable guy that he is, agreed to all of my choices. After we made our selections, we were given an amuse bouche of smoked salmon cream in a pastry shell. The cream was a bit runny but it had good salmon flavor. I love smoked salmon in all forms so I liked it, but Josh wasn’t too impressed.

Smoked salmon cream tart amuse bouche

We also got a basket of warm bread that had come right out of the oven. They were big rolls that you could pull apart into four dinner roll-sized pieces, and the top crust was nice and crispy. The inside had a nice chewy texture, and we ended up eating tons of these rolls with the accompanying herb butter.

Warm, chewy bread

For our appetizers, Josh and I shared the she crab soup (of course!) and the seared lamb tenderloin. Alice raved about the she crab soup last year so I was eager to try it. The soup was rich and creamy and chock full of crab flavor. Unfortunately, they were a bit heavy handed with the sherry so each spoonful had sort of an alcoholic bite to it. I’m not sure if they make it like that all the time, or if this was an anomaly, but I found it to be kind of unpleasant. Too bad, because it would have been an amazing soup otherwise.

She crab soup

The seared lamb tenderloin appetizer turned out not to be what I had imagined, but it was still quite tasty. I thought that it would be thin slices of barely cooked lamb but it was actually sort of like pieces of lamb kebab. It was served with a little goat cheese tart, baby mache, and beet chips. The lamb was tender and flavorful. I just wish there was more of it, as there were only four small cubes. All the components of the dish really worked well together, and I liked the gaminess of the lamb with the gaminess of the goat cheese.

Seared lamb tenderloin with goat cheese tart, baby mache, and beet chips

For our entrees, Josh and I split the crispy Carolina trout and the crawfish cakes. The trout was perfectly seared so that the skin was super crispy, and it was nicely seasoned. The fish was served with baby artichokes, cremini mushrooms, grape tomatoes, and a sherry cream sauce. The portion of trout was huge, and I didn’t even get through half the plate. I liked how the cream sauce bound all of the components together. My only complaint was that there was some mashed potatoes under the fish that was overseasoned with white pepper. I just ate around it, and everything else was spot on.

Crispy Carolina trout with artichoke baby artichokes, cremini mushrooms, grape tomatoes, and a sherry cream sauce

The crawfish cakes were prepared low country style and were served with green tomato, avocado, sweet pepper relish, and creamy stone ground grits. There were two huge cakes jam packed with crawfish meat and very little filling. The outside was nice and crispy while the inside was creamy and flavorful. The grits were chunkier than I expected but still very tasty. The green tomato and sweet pepper relish provided some nice acidity for the dish, while the avocado added some creamy richness. There was also one whole crawfish on the plate, which I dispatched by pulling off the head, sucking out the juices, and then removing the tail meat and eating it. Yum!

Low country style crawfish cakes with green tomato, avocado, sweet pepper relish, and creamy stone ground grits

For dessert, Josh couldn’t resist ordering the special of the night, a root beer float. It was pretty simple, just some scoops of vanilla ice cream topped with an organic root beer and served with a chewy tuille cookie. The root beer had a clean taste to it, not overly medicinal, and having a root beer float is just whimsical enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face.

Pouring root beer into a glass with scoops of vanilla ice cream

Fun and tasty

Overall our dinner at the Old Fort Pub was our favorite out of all the meals we had in Hilton Head this year. From start to finish everything was really well prepared and the flavors were delicious. Service was good, and the restaurant had a really lovely atmosphere. Portions are huge here, making it a good value as we had tons of leftovers that fed all of us for lunch a few days later. We were all pretty impressed with our experience, and I hope it’s a place that we’ll come back to again.

Old Fort Pub
65 Skull Creek Dr.
Hilton Head, SC