Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Landing at Contraband

The Landing at Contraband
1103 West Prien Lake
Lake Charles, LA
11:00 AM to 10:00 PM Seven days a week $3 to $33
Situated in the defunct Bennigens little except a sign change and a clean up has been done here. What has improved is the food and service. I received stellar service on all my visits. However I must advice you I was recognized and acknowledged. At lunch they offer an abbreviated and less costly menu. However it comes in the regular menu. If you want dinner at you can do so. It is available all the time.
The first thing that hits the table is a breadbasket of garlic bread served with butter. My last time in they were using a different bread. It was softer than the previous. First foray was a group thing. Three appetizers were ordered for the table. The Contraband Cakes consist of four mini cakes that you can order in shrimp, crab or crawfish. We ordered shrimp. They were delicious with great shrimp flavor. Next was Fried Green Tomatoes. Thinly sliced, lightly battered and not greasy, these were a hit also. Shrimp and Okra hushpuppies completed the trio. A bit unusual but very tasty especially if you like okra as I do. The chopped shrimp and okra seemed to be in the middle with the hushpuppy batter surrounding it. The best thing was they were made from scratch.
Various people at the table ordered the two soups on the menu, Creamy Tomato and Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. I seldom see tomato soup on a menu. Maybe as a special but not as a regular item. It proved quite nice with a creamy texture and a tomato punch. The gumbo with its dark roux, thin broth and smoky flavor satisfied my soul.
My internet friend went for the Veal Chop. Bone in and pan braised in wine and peppercorns they place it over spinach and finished it with a wine reduction. I got the bone, which was exquisite. My enthusiastic friend and engineer friend opted for the Pork Chop. Bone in also and grilled this came out topped with caramelized apples. My taste proved succulent and tender. My royal friend went with Marinated Duck. A breast marinated in orange and grilled. It was sliced and fanned over dirty rice. The piece I got was tender with orange flavor bonus. My sister ordered salmon. You can get it one of four ways: grilled, blackened, pan toasted or cedar planked. She chose the latter with steamed vegetables. My taste showed moistness and a light smoke flavor. I had to go with the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp. I received a bowl of boiled peeled tail on shrimp in a broth and half loaf of French bread. While OK it was not my ideal BBQ shrimp. The shrimp should have been head and tail on and cooked in the broth. The broth was too spicy almost to the point of being inedible, not a winner. The rest of the entrees stood head and tail above this.
Next trip was lunch. I ordered Crab Fondue. This proved excellent. Big crab flavor with a distinctive cheese presence. The rye toast points were needed to stand up and compliment these strong but fabulous tastes. Would order it again in a heartbeat. I then went with a Shrimp Burger. This proved to be a huge Contraband Cake. It worked just as well as the smaller one with great shrimp flavor. The bun was excellent and fries small wedges crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. For dessert I got a Tiramisu Cake. Not bad but I prefer the classic. By the way all the desserts come from Terra Cotta down the road.
Last time in I went with the Scallop entree. Eight perfectly cooked scallops over dirty rice. The menu had a list of sauces, toppings and side items to add to your meal. I got two sauces I had never seen before, Cajun Cream and Hot Sweet Pecan. The Cajun one was sausage and tasso poached in cream. The other one was pecan pieces in maple syrup and kind of oily. The cream worked well with the scallops the other less so. I was quite happy with the scallops plain, crusty and sweet. I ate a Chocolate Eruption. Basically chocolate and white chocolate mousse with a chocolate cake crust. Quite nice if you love chocolate. It is big enough to share.

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