Wednesday, March 30, 2011

To Quote an Authoritative Source . . .

“Chef Roy’s became one of my favorite restaurants anytime, anywhere. Co-owners Robert Credeur and Chef Benoit Morel have done everything right.” Who is that authoritative source you might ask? That would be me blogging on December 1, 2008.

“Chef Benoit Morel…started to study the culinary arts in 1989 and graduated from the culinary school of Troyes France in 1995 as a Chef de Cuisine. He was nominated for the best culinary student in Champagne France in 1993… In 1997, Chef Benoit Morel moved to Louisiana, studied and worked under Chef Roy Lyons as a sous chef for one year. From 1999 to 2004, Chef Benoit worked as chef de cuisine for Chef Roy's restaurants in Crowley, Lafayette, and Rayne.

“Robert Credeur is a native of Mire, LA, and graduated from Rayne High School. Robert started working for Chef Roy in 1992 and worked up to General Manager in 1998.… On January 1, 2005, Chef Benoit Morel and Robert Credeur purchased Chef Roy's Frog City Enterprises from Chef Roy Lyons…(and) have maintained his legacy of authentic Cajun Food with Chef Roy's original recipes” (from the restaurant’s web site).

I am always anxious when revisiting after a couple of years a restaurant that I loved. Will it have changed? Will the food be as good? What about the service? Will co-owner Robert still walk through the dining room greeting diners?

Well, very little has changed. The dining room still conveys a homey comfortable stylishness with its painted paneled walls, dark wood ceiling, heavily draped windows, and the most comfortable dining chairs I have found in a long time. The food and service are still excellent, and Robert is still a friendly presence in the dining room.

In fact, we had the chance to talk with Robert, and he remembered us from our visits thirty-three months ago. He remembered inviting us to his sister’s wedding reception—an experience we always will remember—and that we camped in Duson.

Our server that noon was Amy, who exhibited great patience as we almost endlessly studied the menu and debated our options. On her second visit to our table to see if we had any questions, she said that she would just wait until we closed the menus as a clue that we were ready. And Amy was a fount of information when we finally settled on our choices.

For starters, Chuck chose a cup of the corn and crab soup and I ordered a cup of the seafood gumbo. My gumbo (left) was delicious—filled with shrimp, oysters, crawfish, and crab in a wonderful dark roux base.

But if my gumbo was delicious, Chuck’s soup was wickedly delicious. Corn and crab are two foods meant to be combined, since the sweetness of each com-pliments the other. The soup was medium thick, contained bits of shredded cheese, and was garnished with scallion top rings. This was amazing. So amazing that I kept reaching across the table to steal just one more spoonful.

You have your choice at lunch of ordering from the full dinner menu or from the shorter menu with smaller serving portions. On the luncheon menu, the choices include Crawfish Fettuccine, Crawfish Napoleon, grilled chicken breast, chicken fried chicken, a shrimp or chicken enchilada, grilled shrimp or chicken salad, fried shrimp or catfish, shrimp etouffee, a hamburger steak, and a mixed fried seafood platter.

Chuck chose, after a l-o-n-g deliberative process, the fried seafood platter with sweet potato fries and an order of onion rings. Fortunately, Amy asked if we wanted the half order instead of the full. Yes, this is the half order. The onion rings, of which I ate too many, had an almost transparent beer batter and had all the flavor of sweet onions.

His platter contained three cornmeal coated and flakey catfish filets (one taste was not enough for me), two beer battered shrimp, a stuffed shrimp, and a fried oyster. Great! He doesn’t care for oysters! I’ll get the whole thing. No, he only offered me half. And an excellent fried oyster it was.

The platter came with sweet potato fries (his choice of side) which were lightly dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon. These were like candy on the plate and went amazingly well with the fried seafood. I would never have thought to add the sugar and cinnamon, but this really worked—for both of us.

Chef Roy’s menu represents what I think of as a new generation of Acadiana restaurant owners and chefs. Yes, you will find your gumbos, fried seafood platters, and etouffees. But in my order, the Crawfish Napoleon, they take indigenous ingredients and assemble them in new ways. Two rounds of eggplant sandwich a savory stuffing (similar to that used to stuff crawfish heads for crawfish bisque or to form crawfish boulettes), and then the stuffing is topped with small crawfish tails. Over this is ladled a rich cheese sauce accented with just a hint of curry and more crawfish tails. The curry added just an undertone of flavor and let the cheese and crawfish take the leading roll. I had ordered this during our November 2008 visit and remembered to save half a roll to wipe up every speck of cheese sauce from the plate.

No room for dessert. Drat!

Well, Chef Roy’s Frog City Café (the café is located in Rayne, LA, which is the Frog Capital of the World) is still one of my favorite restaurants anytime, anywhere and earns the ultimate 5.0 Addie rating.

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