Monday, May 7, 2012

“It’s a Cajun Cracker Barrel”…

Chuck said as we walked through the doors of Bayou Country General Store.

Our travel plans call for us to head north and somewhat east into Virginia. Now we have the route to Baton Rouge and from there to Lafayette memorized, this route will be new to us. So we decided on a trial run to learn how we access US 90 and from there to where it meets I-10 East. So we are on to Slidell, LA.

Somehow, my sense of direction here is completely off. I thought that Slidell was due east of New Orleans. Actually, it is north and the road crosses Lake Pontchartrain. And, at the first exit to Slidell lies the Bayou Country General Store.

“Bayou Country is a one-of-a-kind ‘tou-rist’ shop located on the edge of Slidell, carrying a random selection of everything Louisiana.

“They carry all the little magnets and souvenirs you'd expect to find in the city. They also carry those silly alligator heads and back-scratchers that everyone within 300 miles seems to have. But it would be wrong to judge a store just by these products.

“Bayou Country carries just about everything. They have one of the largest selections of hot sauce in the area, if not the largest. They stock all kinds of local seasonings and make fresh pralines in the store. They have plenty of snacks and novelty foods, along with
home goods and other items…especially for the kitchen. Bayou Country also stocks some really nice local art, particularly paintings and photography” (Richard C. at

But we didn’t come to shop. (But I will admit that it took real will power not to purchase the giant stuffed crawfish toy.) The purpose of our visit was lunch and at the back of the store sits the small and casual Blue Bayou Café.

This is another order–at-the-counter place with the menu printed on chalkboards on the wall. It looked as though the café’s staff numbered two—one to take your orders and the second to prepare the food. Given the limited staff, the menu is simple. The corn and crab bisque, seafood and sausage gumbo,
and chicken and sausage jambalaya are kept hot in electric
“kettles” behind the counter. There is a special of the day, that day’s being crawfish pasta. There is something called Jambalaya Nachos. (I don’t even want to think about these.) There are grilled wraps and poor boys. And a “combo” with a half poor boy and cup of gumbo or bisque or side of jambalaya.

We placed our order and found an empty table. The café’s furniture, like the Adirondack chairs on the front porch (photo #1), is for sale and still has their price tags. After a short period, the staff member who prepares the food came out the “kitchen” calling Chuck’s name. You wave your hand in the air, and he brings over your food.

We both went with the poor boy combo and our poor boy choices included a Cajun Club, Roast Beef, Muffaletta, BBQ Pork, Hot Sausage, and Pulled Smoked Chicken. Chuck selected the Hot Sausage with corn and crab bisque. The bisque had great flavor.
As I have said before, I love the combina-tion of sweet corn and sweet crab. The bisque was seasoned with white pepper, bay, and thyme. Its shortcoming was a lack of richness in the bisque base. It should have had a more pronounced creaminess.

The Hot Sausage poor boy was HOT. The split link was very spicy, and the sandwich was spread with the café’s own Cajun Mayo that contained almost an excess of spice. Blue Bayou presses their poor boys like one would do with the traditional Cuban sandwich, and since the roll became extra crusty, I found this to be an appealing variation.

My selection was the Pulled Smoked Chicken with a side of
jambalaya. The jambalaya was the Cajun or brown style (without tomatoes), was appro-priately peppery, and was a bit light on the sausage. But the biggest shortcoming was that the rice and chicken were very dry.

On the other hand, the sandwich was quite good. It was also pressed and contained the same spicy mayo, lettuce, tomato, and lots of moist and smoky chicken. The smoky flavor was deceptive and almost made one think that the sandwich also contained bacon—which it didn’t.

This is not a place that we would necessarily return to, but still merits 3.5 Addies.

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

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