Wednesday, February 1, 2012

This Is Not a Place…

that you’d find by accident.

Last spring—May 2nd and 3rd to be exact—we wrote about our bizarre encounter with the local gendarmes in Franklin, LA, that caused us to beat a hasty retreat out of Franklin and in search of an alternative for lunch.

Fortunately, I was armed with a travel brochure of that general area and that is where I found this reference to Bon Creole Seafood (aka Bon Creole Lunch Counter)--“Overstuffed with shrimp, crawfish, catfish, or soft-shell crab, they’re big enough to share.” And thus we discovered what just might be the best poor boy in southern Louisiana.

“This quirky local hang out is one of a kind. It's got a small sign on top of the little building with nothing fancy on the outside. No pretensions inside, either. What they do, they do well.... Bon Creole has an uncomplicated menu. The place is clean and service excellent. There is ample table seating.... You'll appreciate the food, atmosphere and animals on display including a buffalo head and crawfish hanging on the wall. The place has character and so do the customers. Go, eat, drink, enjoy!” (rmccall at

Or, as intlxpatr.wordpress. com says: “…we miss it the first time, and have to go around the block, AdventureMan says ‘I think I saw it, but it looked closed.’ I think I saw it, too, but it looked . . . like some dive. As we come around the second time, we see a button-down-shirt-and-chinos kind of guy coming out, so we know it must be open, and he looks like a working local, not some tourist like us.”

Most on-line reviews stress the quality of Bon Creole’s poor boys, but raves are also given for the lunch counter’s seafood gumbo. So on this visit I decided to start my meal with a small bowl. This was served Cajun style with both a small cup of rice and small cup of potato salad. The potato salad can either be mixed into the gumbo or, as I observed one woman diner do, you can take a small portion of the salad on your spoon before dipping the spoon into the gumbo. Knowing the size of our meal to follow, I elected to take the salad home where it became my dinner that night. Literally, the only thing I ate that evening.

So how good was the gumbo? It was made with a darkish roux, con-tained a plethora of small shrimp and pieces of crab, and was lightly seasoned with bay, thyme, and pepper. Again, let me quote from intixpatr: “’Oh, WoW!’ I say, and my eyes open wide. ‘Wow!’ AdventureMan is having the same experience. ‘This is REALLY good!’ he says. We are quiet now, eating this totally delicious seafood gumbo. We are both busy trying to figure out how they made it taste so seafood-y, lots of shrimp, maybe some crab, but the gumbo itself, essence of shellfish, is SO good. What if we had judged by the exterior and had ended up in some plastic and mediocre place? What if we had missed this totally awesome seafood gumbo? This gumbo was seriously GOOD.”

We then moved on to our perpetual (if you consider two previous visits to equal perpetual) choice—to share the large crawfish poor boy. Call them over-stuffed. Call then bursting at the seams. Call them what you want. They more than feed two. When you unwrap the sandwich from the paper, a cascade of fried crawfish tails comes pouring forth. Since it is early in the season, the tails are on the small side, but that makes them no less juicy and sweet. And, instead of plain mayo, these sandwiches are dressed with a mayo and hot sauce mix which accentuates the spice in the cornmeal-based coating. And the French roll is equal to any we have eaten in New Orleans.

Not too many days later, we again found ourselves in the New Iberia neighborhood. That is if you—like us when it comes to food—consider anything less than thirty miles distant to be “the neighborhood”. This warranted a return visit for one of Bon Creole’s marvelous poor boys. Having really enjoyed my potato salad leftovers, this time I suggested that instead of the gumbo and fries, we share a large order of potato salad.

While Chuck face reflected a grimace of pain--“No French fries,” he exclaimed. I did bring him around to my way of thinking. And he thanked me later. Bon Creole’s potato salad is made with chunks of potato plus some “mashed”-like potatoes and is flavored with a small amount of mustard, scallions, and both sweet and dill pickles. Really a fine potato salad.

This 4.5 Addie (only because I think the fries are shaken from a bag) lunch counter is one of our favorite Acadiana stops. As Adrian V at explained: “There are few places that I have been to that actually epitomize what a cuisine is all about.... The menu is simple: gumbo, poor boys, and other lunch counter standards with daily specials, too. The key is that the quality is tres bien. The gumbos feel like that came from a Cajun grandmother's kitchen and the poor boys are freshly fried with delightful French bread. This is typically the first place I go on my trips to New Iberia and the last place when I leave!”

As we were finishing our lunch, we had a chance to speak with the woman who takes orders at the counter.
“Did you see the mural on the side of the building?’” she asked. “It doesn’t get as much sun so it hasn’t faded.”

So we went to take a look. “Well, this would give kids nightmares.” Chuck said.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

No comments: