Sunday, May 1, 2011

Food Bloggers...

and on-line restaurant reviewers fall into two camps. There are those who are knowledgeable. And there are those like me who try to fake it. So, while I still pay attention to these writers, I do so with some skepticism. Especially when a restaurant’s reviews fall into two polar extremes. Such was the case with Crazy 'Bout Crawfish in Breaux Bridge, LA.

The place was nearly full when we arrived for a Saturday lunch. In fact, we got the last empty table. Do you remember Kate’s Rules from a recent blog? Don’t eat at a place that advertises on billboards along the interstate and don’t eat at a place that has a “gift shop.” Well, Crazy 'Bout Crawfish does advertise on the highway, and just as you enter the doors, there is a display of Cajun/Creole seasonings (including one called Tiger Dust in honor of the LSU Tigers), cookbooks, T-shirts, rice cookers, etc.

The table tops are a collage of ads from local Breaux Bridge businesses as are the acoustical tiles on the ceiling. The center tile prominently displays the LSU Tigers logo. Where are Ragin’ Cajuns? They’re on a banner on the wall.

The diners were a mix of tourists and local family groups, which the owner, who was standing by the cash register, greeted by name. We also shared the dining room with a group of bikers from the Christian Motorcycle Association whose colors sported the motto “Riding for the Soul.”

The menu was extensive and seafood oriented. All but one of the salads were topped with either fried catfish, shrimp, crawfish, or mixed seafood. The toppings play a solo role in the sandwiches (crawfish [fried or cold and mixed with mayo], shrimp, or catfish. Shrimp came boiled, fried, bar-b-qued, stuffed, or in etouffee. Crawfish came in mixed platters, in jalapeno cheese cornbread, in etouffee, in macque choux, in salad. Or you could order your crawfish boiled or order just the tails fried or grilled. And for those who don’t “do” fish and seafood, there are numerous chicken and steak items.

Our lunches represented the two extremes found in on-line reviews. On the plus side was Chuck’s order of fried crawfish tails which came with an order of fries. To his lunch, he added a side of the red beans and rice.

His initial reaction to the red beans and rice was “way too smoky.” I tasted them and didn’t have the same reaction. After further tasting, he changed his mind. His hand-cut fries had been twice cooked (as a good French fry should be) and nice and crisp. The crawfish had a fairly thick cornmeal coating, but under the crust were nice and juicy. If we were just evaluating his meal, our review would lie at the positive end of the review continuum.

Then there was my lunch. I got clever and decided to order the crawfish maque choux (pronounced “mock shoe”). This is “a traditional dish of southern Louisiana. It is thought to be an amalgam of Acadian French (Cajun) and Native American cultural influence, and the name is likely to derive from the French interpretation of the Native American name. It contains corn, green bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, and sometimes garlic and celery. The ingredients are braised in a pot…. The vegetables are then left to simmer until they reach a tender consistency,…. The dish is finished with salt and a combination of red and black pepper” (

Usually, I have seen maque choux offered as a side dish and not as part of an entrĂ©e. But why not give it a try? Here’s why—at least at Crazy 'Bout Crawfish.

Remember that the dish includes tomato and green pepper. Where are they? Oh, there. Two or three small dices of tomato with just as many—or few—dices of green pepper. Yes, there were some crawfish tails in the mix, but this was basically cream-style corn, and if that isn’t enough starch on the plate, served over a heaping pile of rice. No matter how much I ate, the mound of food just didn’t shrink. In fact, it seemed to grow larger. Finally I gave up in defeat.

What did I learn from this experience? When eating in a restaurant that is part tourist trap and part local favorite, stick to the basics. Don’t get clever or creative.

Averaging Chuck’s good plate of fried crawfish tails, fried, and red beans and rice with my really bad crawfish maque choux results in a 2.0 Addie rating.

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