Friday, August 14, 2009

A-Mazen Seafood

A-Mazen Seafood
339 West Prien Lake Road
Lake Charles, LA
Monday - Saturday 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM $3 to $20
Ok, lets get a couple of thing straight right off the bat. Mazen owns this establishment. He is not closing the original Mazen's. This establishment is a mid-range seafood place that he operates along with his original restaurant and Mazen’s Grill in Lafayette. Got it MAZEN’S IS NOT CLOSING. Second and just as important this is not a Mini Mazen’s. It has its own unique seafood menu and vibe. That said, it is located in the old Ruby Tuesdays. I hear that there will be an oyster bar come winter.
For the most part these reports are on a developing menu. At this point it seems almost set although it may see more changes. What I am seeing at this point is a refining of plate presentations. First foray was Shrimp Okra Gumbo, Baked Oysters, Soft-Shell Crab Po Boy and Cheesecake. While the flavor of the gumbo was great the incorporation of the okra did not suit my taste (texture). They had flash fried chopped okra and added straight in. I prefer my okra in this dish to be smothered. Still check since they may have adjusted the recipe. Fresh shucked oysters still in the shell with butter and Parmesan cheese on top finished off in the oven. Even though the oysters were a bit small, they were plump and the sauce complimented them. My only thought here is they need to bring out bread to sop up the excellent juices on the charger. The crabs were in a breadcrumb coating, which I normally do not care for but which worked very well in the po boy lending a nice crunch. The bread proved excellent (crisp crust, soft crumb) and that for me takes it to the next level. The onion rings I ordered with it came out medium cut, floured and fried perfectly (non-greasy). The in house cheesecake had a light texture with a sour cream kick and citrus undertones, delicious.
Next came a group outing. A side salad appeared with mainly berg lettuce that improved on a later visit. The Creole Honey Mustard Dressing saved it. My Engineer friend got a Shrimp Remoulade with white Creole Mustard sauce. The shrimp looked fabulous and my taste of the sauce exciting. I went with an appetizer portion of Crab au Gratin. It came out with loads of lump crabmeat in a rich and luscious multi-cheese sauce. The whole table enjoyed it. My Internet friend’s friend ordered Seafood Stuffed Shrimp fried. While I did not get a taste the comments about it were good. My Internet friend went with Seafood Pasta with crab, shrimp, and crawfish in a Mornay sauce (white sauce with cheese) over bowtie pasta. My taste proved rich and creamy with a mild spice level. My Engineer friend ordered the Seafood Stuffed Fish. This consisted of two sauteed tilapia fillets sandwiching seafood stuffing topped with a spicy tomato sauce. I got a taste and was struck how everything went together. My Cooking friend opted for Catfish Acadian. Fried catfish pieces topped with crawfish etouffee. Perfectly fried catfish and a brown spicy etouffee made this dish a winner in my eyes. My sister got a Barbecue Shrimp appetizer for her meal. It had components of that famous New Orleans dish. In general the best restaurant version we have had but not anywhere near the original. I went with the 3 Stuffed Crabs. It came in a real crab shell with an 85% crab and bread stuffing with trinity, very flavorful and satisfying. A huge hill of fries and onion rings sat underneath it.

A dinner with my Enthusiastic friend followed. We shared an order of half Rockefeller and half Bienville Oysters. These proved to be classic interpretations. The anise flavored spinach sauce and the cheesy bacon sauce has been complimenting oysters for decades. No need to change a good thing. She ordered the 3 Stuffed Crabs. This time the plate was more restrained with only a small hill of the fries and onion rings. It also contained two stainless steel gravy boats, one with in house tartar and the other with in house seafood sauce. The stuffing also seemed to b├ęchamel (thick white sauce) based rather than breadcrumb. I got the Bayou Seafood Salad. A beautiful and elegant arrangement of mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, boiled shrimp, and crabmeat. The Sweet Balsamic Dressing (balsamic vinegar, oil and shallots) proved an excellent match. Great for eating light in this hot weather.
I made a special trip to order the Crawfish Etouffee. I started with Crab and Corn Chowder. Very light, sweet and spicy with a rouxed milk broth with a big hit of white pepper. I really enjoyed it. A vastly improved side salad came with it. However the in house blue cheese dressing seemed to be sour cream based which I did not care for. The etouffee was not brown as before but more a crawfish fat red color. The portions were backward as far as I was concerned, big bowl of thin etouffee and a gravy boat of rice. After all the rice had been added it was like when people eat gumbo like rice and gravy. Usually the rice predominates the dish. However the flavors were there. A deep rich sauce tasting of crawfish with plump and sweet crawfish with plenty of spice. I ate it all
All of what I experienced may have change by now. This seems to be a restaurant in evolution. I can emphasis that the evolution is going to a higher level. Each dish getting better as it goes along. This is an excellent and welcome addition to the Lake Charles dinning scene

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