Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Original Plan…

was to make our road trip to New Roads, LA, on a Sunday and, after our tour of this historic city, have lunch at a highly regarded—although a bit staid—restaurant overlooking False River. But that was before I read the article in Louisiana Kitchen & Culture that Chuck referenced Wednesday and noticed an insert box describing a relatively new restaurant opened by four graduates of the Louisiana Culinary Institute whose food is described as being “executed with youthful fun and flair.” That, and the accompanying photo, was enough to spark our interest. One problem. This restaurant is closed on Sunday. Time for another new plan.

And so when Chuck was talking with his new friend on New Road’s main street (see our previous entry) and his friend said, “If you want really good seafood, you should go to…”, Chuck was able to say in unison with him: “Hot Tails.”

“In New Roads, the action—culinary and otherwise—is by the waterside. And fair enough. The banks of False River…provide lovely water views and, with all the recreational boating that the huge oxbow lake attracts, plenty to look at, too. So…it's easy to overlook New Roads' other dining options, purely as a result of their non-waterside settings. Such is the case with Hot Tails Louisiana Crawfish House…on New Roads' rather less scenic Hospital Road. But don't let the location hold you back, because the setting here is cheerful, the beer selection extensive, and the dishes terrific.
“That Hot Tails is all about seafood should be obvious from the moment you pull into the carpark. For a start there's the huge crawfish on the sign, and the twin crawfish-emblazoned, chrome jambalaya cooking paddles that have been fashioned into door handles…” (
(Ed. Note: You’ve never had jambalaya until you have had it from a huge iron pot set over an open flame and stirred with large paddles. Especially when served at one of Louisiana’s many festivals.)

Located in an old drive-through convenience store, I would describe the restaurant as “Cajun Funkadelic.” At the foot of the entry steps sits a hand-made child-size metal truck. The sign over the door reads “Hardcore South Louisiana Cuisine.”

“Inside, the nets, paddles, cypress knees, fifties-era road signs, farm implements, taxidermy and folk art everywhere do a good job of creating a boisterously casual environment and providing plenty to look at while you wait for your dinner to arrive…” (

But this is no ordinary seafood shack. It is one run by serious culinary artists. “It's not all boiled crabs and fried frogs' legs… Fancier fare shows up on Hot Tails' daily specials board, on which the owners show off their Culinary Institute credentials in dishes like seared trout with andouille cream sauce, served over mushroom rice pilaf with steamed vegetables, or fried shrimp over goat's cheese grits and served with pepper jelly. Behind the huge bar, which runs almost the length of the restaurant, ten beers on tap plus scores more bottled varieties offered plenty of ways to medicate any spice burns; wine pours were generous, and the bar offers a range of spirits and cocktails, too” (

It is a restaurant so serious that “Executive Chef Cody Carroll…assisted by his wife, Samantha, wowed judges with his Louisiana Speckled Trout Perdu dish to capture the 2013 King of Louisiana Seafood title…. Carroll’s dish features Louisiana speckled trout served with an étouffée of red swamp crawfish, whipped Creole potato salad, sweet corn and blue crab calas, Tabasco sabayon, and house-pickled banana peppers. The dish is finished with charred green onion and sassafras dust. The Trout Perdu is ‘a takeoff on pain perdu,’ he explained….’ I used an egg, a little sugar and heavy cream to make a wet batter and pan-fried it, like French toast.’…”
“As seafood king, Carroll will act as ambassador and spokesman for the Louisiana seafood industry at events throughout the year. He also will represent Louisiana in the 10th annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off on Aug. 3 in New Orleans (Cheramie Sonnier at

The winning dish and the more creative specials were not on the lunch menu. I suspect that one has to come for dinner to sample most of Hot Tails’ more creative items. At lunch, the menu relies on such staples as poor boys, fried seafood boxes (or, as referred to at Hot Tails, “boxx”), salads, and hamburgers. And of course, this being Cajun Louisiana, there was a plate lunch. The day of our visit it was meatloaf with garlic mashed and green beans for the low price of $7.50.
You place your order at the register located at the end of the bar and are given a number to place in a stand at your table.
As we waited for our food to arrive, I shamelessly studied the food being eaten at adjoining tables. Next to us were a man and woman with what I am assuming was their young son. The latter was eating the Fried Catfish Boxx. The man and woman were eating shrimp poor boys—she the half and he the whole.

OMG, are the portions big! While the son ate all of his catfish, he left most of his fries. Both the man and woman finally waved the white flag and finished by eating the shrimp out of their sandwiches and leaving some of the roll. And neither made a dent in their fries.

And then there was the woman seated across from us who, when served her half-pound hamburger, immediately requested a “to go” box and immediately placed half of her sandwich into said box.
So we were not a bit surprised by the size of our order of onion rings. This would have fed a family of eight were they sensible eaters. But we’re talking about us and we managed to eat nearly sixty percent of the order.
As we were eating, I kept telling myself to stop (as I did with the chips and salsa at La Pagua [in Lafayette]) lest I not be able to eat my main meal. But these were terrific rings and so I kept eating. They were super crunchy and the batter seemed to contain a good measure of hot sauce. And the accompanying “spillway remoulade” also packed a good degree of spice.

Our entrees arrived just in time to serve as a momentary distraction from the onion rings. (But I do admit to snacking on the rings throughout the entire meal.)
For Chuck it was the Fried Shrimp Boxx that came with fries and two jalapeno cornbread hushpuppies or, as they call them here, “shut up dawgs.” These were some of the better hushpuppies I have eaten. They were studded with minced jalapenos and had a slight sweet taste. And they were made even better when dipped into the “spillway remoulade.”

Ordering shrimp is a departure for Chuck. Usually he would order either the fried catfish or fried crawfish tails. But I think that I have convinced him that no one—except for the Chinese—can cook a shrimp as well or better than the Cajuns. His boxx contained nine very large butterflied shrimp. We don’t often see butterflied shrimp in Louisiana but doing so provides more surface area for the seasoned coating.
I went with the Fried Oyster Boxx that contained a dozen plump oysters that were simultaneously sweet and briny. The coating appeared to be the same as on Chuck’s shrimp and had more corn meal/corn starch than we usually see. This made for a thicker, but crunchier, crust.

Both of our boxx (How do you spell the plural of boxx?) came with a gargantuan portion of thick-cut fries that were dusted with Creole/Cajun seasoning. Normally I don’t care for fries this thick, but Hot Tails managed to produce fries that were crisp while being soft and steamy inside. All of my fries returned home with me (along with a good-sized portion of onion rings) and now reside in our freezer awaiting the right time to reheat them.

One of the wonders of retirement is being master of your own schedule. A restaurant isn’t open on Sunday? That’s OK. We’ll go on Tuesday. But whenever you go, be prepared for 5.0 Addie eats.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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