Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Lady Who Lives in the Dashboard

…really doesn’t like Lafayette. But more on that later.

Thinking that our time in Lafayette would be short, we came to a mutual agreement that our dining priority would be those restaurants we have visited in the past and really liked. But that still didn’t stop me from checking out to see if there was something new. And there was—Steve and Pat’s Bon Temps Grill—sitting in the Number Eight place of favorite local restaurants.

“It's been reiterated time and again that there's no place like home.

“Given the opportunity to come back to South Louisiana to ‘do our dream,’ the O'Bryan brothers, Steven and Patrick, reared south of Abbeville, jumped at the chance.

“Acadiana's Joie de Vivre—the joy of life—also means sharing good food, the staple of the soul, with friends and family in one of Lafayette's many restaurants…

“Bon Temps Grill…has a neighborhood feel, quaint and cozy, with an upscale menu that is a ‘very big surprise for people,’ the brothers said. ‘It's ‘Swamp-edge Cuisine in an Urban Cajun atmosphere.’…

“…Bon Temps Grill is not your typical ‘fried seafood platter Cajun restaurant.’ ‘We want to become known for grilled food with a twist.’ Fried foods are not the norm at this restaurant, as the only items are a Fried Shrimp Po-boy on the lunch menu, or Bon Temps Country Fryers” (Linda Meaux at

The menu looked intriguing enough to warrant a visit so we set forth from our RV park in Duson for what should be a short drive to the southwest (I think) side of Lafayette. We drove. And we drove. “Right turn ahead,” said The Lady Who Lives in the Dashboard. “Sharp left turn ahead.” “Left turn ahead.” “Keep left.” “Keep right.” And so on, and on, and on. Someone (a local, mind you) once told us that the streets in Lafayette were laid out by a Drunken Cajun. That person may be right. Some streets almost circle the city. About three-quarters of the way to the restaurant, we looked at each other and said “We could have just gone straight out Ambassador Caffrey and made a left.” But finally we arrived.

What caught my attention was the Bon Temps Grill’s appetizer list with such offerings as: Bon Temps Sausage and Boudin Board (an array of Louisiana’s sausage and boudin, grilled and served with sliced French bread, charred red onion aioli, and Creole mustard); Blackened Chicken Lettuce Wraps (blackened chopped chicken breast served with spicy mango salsa, almonds, and jicama slaw); Nola Shrimp and Grits (jumbo shrimp cooked in New Orleans style BBQ sauce, served over roasted jalapeno cheese grits); and Tuna and Avocado Tartar (diced raw tuna served on lime marinated avocado with citrus ponzu sauce and crispy fried red onions).
But we ordered none of these.
Every once in a while, Chuck gets the urge for a steak. I think he was inspired by watching Steak Paradise on the Travel Channel the afternoon before, and he waivered between the nine-ounce filet mignon and the twelve-ounce rib eye. The latter won the day. And—with one proviso—it was a very good steak, cooked medium rare to his request.
One can’t fault the steak’s flavor and tenderness, but like so many cuts of beef, it came to the table with a large amount of attached fat. Now this may not be a problem for many but we both have a real problem eating fatty bits of meat. So by the time we get done trimming a steak it probably ends up half its original size.

The steak came with what the restaurant calls Red Hot Potatoes which were smashed red skins. But they had a different taste. Certainly not an unpleasant one. Just different. So I asked a young man checking on the tables how they were made. The secret? Boiling the potatoes in crawfish boil.

Now he had a choice of a second side and here he completely surprised me. He chose the grilled asparagus. They were pencil thin and tender and had developed a mild smoky flavor from the grill.

I, too, had trouble deciding. The Shrimp and Tasso Pasta (Louisiana shrimp and shredded tasso in a cream sauce over fettuccine) or—and my ultimate choice—the Grilled Chili Butter Shrimp (mesquite grilled shrimp skewers glazed with sweet chili honey butter and served on a bed of sage sweet potato mash)?
The shrimp came as two skewers of five shrimp each which were beautifully cooked (Have I ever remarked that no one can cook a shrimp like the Cajuns or Chinese? Oh. I have?) and were slightly sweet and slightly spicy from the chili honey butter glaze.

The sweet potato mash was delicious. It was not a smooth puree, but still had some lumps. The sage provided a soft hint of this woodsy and slightly minty herb. And the sweetness probably came from Steen’s Cane Syrup which is processed in the O'Bryan hometown of Abbeville.

I, too, had my choice of a second side and selected the braised Brussels sprouts which were prepared in the style of collard greens with a touch of vinegar, a touch of pepper, and a touch of smoky bacon.

We both really enjoyed our 4.5 Addie lunch. Unfortunately, we probably won’t get the chance to return to try any of those interesting appetizers.

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

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