Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hey Now, Hey Now, Hey Now, Hey Now

It's crawfish eat eatin' time
Crawfish eatin’ eatin’ time
They taste so good
Whoa, and that's a real good sign.

Well, if you recognize that as a bad parody of the Hank Ballard and the Midnighters classic "Finger Poppin' Time" from 1960, you’re as old as I am.

It was time to eat the crawfish and we knew just the place—LA Seafood House in Duson, LA. “Proprietors Tim Metcalf and Cody McCown bring a fresh philosophy to the restaurant business built out of their varied backgrounds, respect for the cooking traditions and love of Louisiana. ‘We only buy the freshest locally produced products and prepare them the best way we know how’” (from the restaurant’s web site). That, along with their ad in the February/March issue of 008 Magazine, which stated “We support local farmers and fisherman, do not own a can opener, (and) use no MSG’s…,” piqued our interest.

And we were encouraged by reviews like this from cfoodlvr on “Recently had dinner at LA Seafood House and it was DELICIOUS! We had the char-grilled oysters....and I am still dreaming about them.....they were the best EVER! We also had boiled crawfish and they were the best I've ever eaten..... Truly an AWESOME experience!!” and

from average joe: “Probably the best value for your money in Acadiana seafood. The seafood is great, but some of the other dishes will keep you coming back. The Chicken whatever dish was great. The grilled stuffed pork chop was awesome. It might be a little further out of town, but well worth the drive…. Weeknight specials are great and make this an affordable famliy dining establishment with top quality entrees and sides.”

So off we headed on a Monday night so that I could partake in the Monday Nite Special—three pounds of boiled crawfish served with potatoes and corn.

Almost as soon as we were seated, we met Cody McCown, who, in a past life, had worked as a conditioning coach/personal trainer and views locally grown/harvested and natural additive-free food as being an integral part of a healthy life style. And believe me, you don’t find too many health-conscious restaurants in Acadiana.

We could have made a meal of appetizers alone—and plan to very soon. Some of the more intriguing selections included: Crawfish Nachos—Crawfish tails in a spicy cheese sauce over tortillas and topped with cheese and jalapenos; Spinach & Artichoke Dip with fried eggplant chips; Char-Broiled Oysters—one dozen fresh shucked, fire-grilled Louisiana Oysters that are served with French bread; Lafayette BBQ Shrimp—their twist on the New Orleans version; Fried Alligator—flash-fried tail meat served with a remoulade sauce; Crab Cake—Louisiana crab meat lightly breaded and fried and then drizzled with a cream sauce; Crawfish Rolls—crawfish hand-rolled with rice, cheese and seasonings served with fried green beans and an Asian dipping sauce; Yum Yum Shrimp—Louisiana Gulf shrimp, fried and tossed in a spicy Cajun/Asian sauce and topped with sesame seeds.

While the menu certainly contains enough options to keep meat lovers happy, we only paid attention to the fish and seafood entrees. Yes, you can get a po-boy or fried or boiled seafood, but you should pay special attention to the list of special entrees. These include: Shrimp & Grits—sautéed gulf shrimp over cheddar cheese grits with a cream sauce and with green onions and bacon bits; Catfish Karen—catfish filets topped with a spicy Crawfish sauce; Garlic Crusted Drum—Gulf Black Drum dredged in seasoned flour, rubbed with roasted garlic, and fried; Trout Almandine—Gulf Speckled Trout that are lightly breaded, fried crisp, and topped with buttery sliced almonds; and Seared Tuna—six-ounce fresh tuna steak, seasoned and panned-seared in olive oil; and Crab Cakes—a dinner-sized portion of the appetizer.

Chuck ordered the Catfish Karen—four corn meal-crusted sweet catfish filets over which was ladled a roux-based sauce that was mildly spicy and tasted of just a hint of thyme and studded with a good number of crawfish tails. Totally delicious. More sauce would have overwhelmed the catfish. Less sauce would have you yearning for more.

From the list of sides that included French fries, cheese grits, broccoli, green beans, and sweet potatoes, he chose the garlic red potatoes and onion rings. Absolutely no one makes better onion rings than the folks in this part of Louisiana. They slice them thin and coat them with a light batter. These are perfect onion rings. And the red potatoes! They were bathed in a butter sauce that had enough garlic to be noticeable but not so much to overwhelm. He is still talking about these potatoes.

I started with a bottle of Abita Turbodog beer which is described as “a dark brown ale brewed with Willamette hops and a combination of British pale, crystal and chocolate malts. This com-bination gives Turbodog its rich body and color and a sweet chocolate-toffee like flavor” (from www.ratebeer. com). Sounds pretentious, doesn’t it? Why not just say it tastes good?

This comes from the Abita Brewing Company, which is the largest craft brewer in the Southeast and among the top twenty craft brewers in the U.S. The brewing company’s water comes from the Abita Springs (in the town of Abita Springs, LA) and does not need to be treated prior to the brewing process.

Time to eat some crawfish. So just how local are these? So local that they come from a pond immediately behind the restaurant. How good were they? So good that almost every table contained at least one order and you could hardly hear the background music over the slurping sound of diners sucking on the crawfish heads.

LA Seafood still boils their crawfish in seasoned water even though many local spots boil and then toss them in seasoning. What’s the point? You want the spices (here they range from mild to extra hot) to permeate the tail meat and flavor the juice that stays in the head. So I dived into my three pounds with gusto, shell pieces littering the front of my T-shirt and juice running down my arm and dripping off my elbow. And yes, I followed the instructions from yesterday’s blog—including scooping out the head fat with my finger. I was in heaven.

But nirvana didn’t end there. No. It was time for dessert. Time for the deep-fried Oreos.

These had not been dipped in a batter. Rather, they seemed to be encased in a pastry-like crust with an almost chewy quality. When you bit into one, the cookie—which had melted—came oozing out like sweet lava. We both agreed that one person couldn’t eat an order by themselves.

Another wonderful meal in Cajun Country at another 5.0 Addie restaurant.

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