Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Was Going to Begin This Blog…

With the story of how Breaux Bridge (LA) got its name. Then I pulled up today’s blog and discovered that Chuck had already done so—along with using the same references that I had planned to. So I’ll need to begin with a different story.

There used to be three Mulate’s Restaurants and Cajun Dancehalls in Southern Louisiana. The one at the edge of New Orleans Warehouse District still operates and is almost the only place in NOLA where you can hear true Cajun music on a nightly basis. The Mulate’s in Baton Rouge closed in 2001. And then there was the Mulate’s in Breaux Bridge. None of the three would ever be lauded for their food. But we still looked forward to at least one evening of listening to music and watching local dancers doing the Cajun Waltz during our Lafayette-area stay.

So I was surprised—and distressed—to learn that the Breaux Bridge Mulate’s had also ceased to exist. But all was not lost; it has reopened as Pont Breaux’s Cajun Restaurant. “After enjoying continued success as one of biggest Cajun music venues in the area under the guidance of the late Goldie Comeaux, her children have sold the restaurant to its long-time manager Jimmy LaGrange and his business partner Randy LeBlanc. ‘The atmosphere will still be the same,’ LaGrange assures” (Wynce Nolley at

Also the "same" is the regular line-up of Cajun bands including Forest and Friends. Chuck and I had the pleasure of meeting this young accordion player and his mother, Adele, last spring at a symposium at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and had heard him play one evening at Mulate’s. So when we learned that he would be playing at Pont Breaux one Sunday night, we marked our calendars.

Pont Breaux is one of those restaurants that cater to two different groups—bus tour groups and avid local dancers. The dining tables to the left of the stage are long to accommodate both groups. Those of us who fit neither category are seated at tables of four to the right of the stage. There weren’t too many of us non-dancers and non-tours that evening.

So we settled back to listen to Forest (shown here with Al Berard of our all time favorite Cajun band—the Basin Brothers—on fiddle) and looked over the menu. Remembering that the food wasn’t all that great, we decided to play it safe with an appetizer assortment. Kitty Humbug and I started with a bottle of LA 31 Bière Pâle brewed by the Bayou Teche Brewing Company. A little too dry and hoppy for our taste.

Chuck began with a small bowl of chicken and sausage gumbo that was full of shredded chicken and discs of smoked sausage in a dark roux base. It wasn’t too peppery and was—quite frankly—much better than I expected.

Next to the table were three shared items. First, an order of boudin balls. Boudin, or boudin blanc is a “white sausage made of pork without the blood. Pork liver and heart meat are typically included. In Cajun versions, the sausage is made from a pork rice dressing…” (wikipedia. com). Here, the meat and rice are removed from the casing, rolled in some form of crumbs, and deep fat fried. These are not health food. Some boudins can have an intense liver flavor and be very spicy. We were both happy that this boudin was neither.

Next was an order of fried catfish bites with tartar sauce. They were lightly coated in seasoned cornmeal fry mix, but I thought that they were a bit strong and muddy tasting.

The third was a strange item to be listed as an appetizer—Smothered Potatoes. Large cubes of potatoes had been long-cooked with sausage and green pepper and were highly seasoned with pepper. They were tasty, but I would consider them to be more of a side than an appetizer.

We took a break from eating to spend some time talking with Forest’s parents—Adele and Rowdy Huval (both seated). Both are teachers—she in Cecelia (a small town north of Breaux Bridge) and he in Broussard (a small town south of Lafayette). We talked about Forest’s plan to become a forensic entomolo-gist (using insects as tools to learn more about victims of crimes). We talked about the band’s upcoming trip to Red Rock, NM. We talked about the importance of community and family in the Cajun culture.

It was good to see them again.

We ended our meal with the Praline Supreme—praline liqueur poured over banana ice cream and then topped with whipped cream and pecans. Good, but not exceptional.

A new name + a new owner = the same rating as last year – 3.5 Addies. You go for the music and eat if you must.

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

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