Tuesday, March 27, 2012


The Spot Cafe

1847 Hwy 14

Lake Charles LA


Monday to Saturday 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM Cost $1 to $10

This annex to Jones Grocery has been many venues over the years. It has turned over again. Less ambitious than the last place here (they offered sometimes as many as five or more different plate lunches) these people offer only one but so far they have been tasty. They are feeling their way but recently they put out a menu for the whole week. Before it was cooks choice and you got the throw of the dice. You might find mw there on Tuesday if the keep serving ox tail on that day.

Based on the lunches the short order stuff should be good also. They do po boys, burgers, fried chicken, and fried seafood not to mention breakfast. The breakfast seems solid but not exciting enough for me to haul myself out of bed. But based on what I have eaten it should be as well prepared.

First time in was Baked Chicken. Since I find this to be dry more times than not, it was a test for this venue. However this leg quarter passed with flying quarters. It was juicy and flavorful with a nice level of spice. The side of rice dressing was excellent with a hint of liver. The mac and cheese proved righteous also but the pork and beans seemed from a can.

The second time was to be short order until I heard the plate was Smothered Pork Chops. I did not get enough of this in my youth so you will never see me turn away from smothered pork. Plastic knife tender and great tasting. The rice received the bounty of the pan drippings. The okra and tomatoes along with the mashed potato style potato salad was as good as any I have put in my mouth. I chowed down. You also get a schoolhouse roll and a piece of bundt cake with each plate lunch.

I finished off with a couple of short orders I opted for my usual Bacon Cheeseburger. While not the best if certainly was not the worst. It provided a satisfactory taste and the gestalt a burger should have. I would definitely have it again. Next came the Seafood Basket. It consisted of a large filet of what I assumed was catfish and six large shrimp fried to perfection. The coating seemed to be a combo of corn flour and flour with some spices adhered perfectly to the proteins. That made it evident that the person frying had some skills. As good as any I have ever tasted. Fries were pretty much standard.

As usual it seemed to be more of a take away place. I seem to be the only one to sit and eat there. Since it is on my normal route home, I consider it a viable option for when I don’t feel like cooking and want to avoid the fast food.

Burger Time

I was going to do a trifecta of Bar Burgers between the small bar row on Ryan street but found one had folded. Therefore you get a duet. I like burgers made at bars and if anyone knows of a bar that serves good burgers get in touch with me at adhebert@suddenlink.com. If I get enough I will do another column


3436 Ryan St

Lake Charles LA


Monday to Friday 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM (Kitchen) Cost $2.50 to $9

I started off with the Fried Jalapenos. Pickled slices in what seemed to be a beer batter and fried golden brown served with ranch dressing. Dipping into the dressing gave then the just right hint of heat. I was munching away then I had a brainstorm. I stopped and waited for my burger. Here they call it the Blue’s Burger. It is really a cheeseburger. I got mine with cheddar, bacon, onions, and my brainstorm nothing else. I put the remainder of the jalapenos on the burger. On the toasted buns they put mayonnaise on top and mustard on the bottom. Then a third pound patty cooked well done but still plenty juicy. The perfectly melted cheddar held two thin crispy slices of bacon and the jalapeno slices with the white onion rings topping it off. It made for a good burger. One I would return for. The side of well prepared fries that I even liked completed the experience. They also carry on the tradition of the Wagon Wheel BBQ by offering the Trail Boss and Tornado sandwiches, another time maybe.

Cajun Wharf

3500 Ryan St

Lake Charles LA



Monday to Saturday 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM (Kitchen) Cost $2.50 to $10

Here it is Joe’s Hamburger. It consists of a third pound patty that you can add cheese to but no bacon. I went with pepper jack. It comes with lettuce, tomato pickles and red onion rings on the side. The toasted buns are plain but ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard is on the table. I went with mayonnaise, mustard and the red onions. The patty was juicy and the pepper jack perfectly melted. In my humble opinion bacon would have made this burger but it was still good as is. I got it with the crazy chips. They are not from a bag but fried fresh to order. I like that. While I did not get it this time Joe’s Shrimp, Crab, and Parmesan dip is excellent also. Here is another good choice along Ryan to eat a great burger.




508 Hawkeye Avenue

Lake Arthur LA



Monday to Saturday 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM Cost $2.50 to $25

Sunday 11:00 AM to 3: PM

Opening last fall this new construction is spectacular. A long ADA rated ramp leads to the main building which is set on piers over the waters of the lake. A large dining room tricked out in wood also has a fireplace and a small stage. Wide capacious eaves mean you can partake in out door dining. They make the point that you can arrive by car, boat or seaplane. I have been two times with variations of my eating group. A late Saturday lunch seems to work best for us

First time was me, my sister and our enthusiastic friend. I ordered the Smoked Fish Dip for the table. It consists of in-house smoked white fish mixed with cream cheese and herbs then blended together to form a paste. Crackers come with it. While my companions were less than enthusiastic, I loved it. I ate most of it. Something about how the smoky flavor complements the unctuous cream cheese speaks to my palate, could have used a bit more heat. Lunch was still being served. My sister went for the Crab cakes with a side of grits. She was highly pleased. The pan sautéed cake delivered on flavor and the grits while not quite Zea’s were good. Our friend got Fried Oysters. It was just the start of the season. They were tiny but well fried in a cornmeal crust. I opted for the Seafood Platter. I was off fried platters as I had recently had some terrible ones. However except for the oysters there were other options for the other elements of the platter on the menu. Therefore I ask for the items broiled, griddled or sautéed as a substitute for the fried version. To my delight they were amenable. I would not have tried this on a busy night but a lazy Saturday afternoon seemed OK.

The platter consisted of shrimp, oysters, catfish, crab cake, stuffed crab and shrimp and okra gumbo. Even though it had okra in it the gumbo was roux based. An excellent roux it was. The juice tasted of seafood with okra under tone. The shrimp were abundant and it was delicious. The shrimp and catfish were griddled with a blackening season and quite moist and tasty. The pan sautéed crab cake possessed at least 80% crab meat if not more with little filler. The same could be said of the stuffed crab except the dressing was in a real crab shell and broiled. Again the fried oysters were small but tasty and not over fried. My side of Corn Macque Choux tasted fine also. We shared a Gateaux Sirop (syrup cake) which was below par.

The return visit was with a larger contingent. Their bread boat (miniature pirogue) held roadhouse style bread. I ordered Alligator Sausage (came with grain mustard and kraut) for the table. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. Several people ordered po boys. They included Fried Catfish and the Grand Lake Special (oysters and shrimp). This happened on the other end of the table. They looked delicious and I heard no complaints. A crab cake entrée was also ordered on that side. Just as good as the last time I was told. Our baking friend got the special. A catfish and shrimp combo (fried catfish and broiled shrimp). My sister ordered the BBQ Shrimp would have been excellent except for an over abundance of rosemary.

I started with oyster on the half shell, still a bit on the small size but nice and briny. I then tried the Duck and Andouille gumbo. Dark roux complimented the earthiness of the duck with the Andouille adding just the right spiciness. I then went to the Crispy Duck with Cane Syrup. Half a duck cooked until the skin was crispy then slathered with a cane syrup glaze. The combination of the sweet crispy skin and the earthy meat was perfect. I enjoyed every finger licking bite as with a dish like this your hands are your best tools. The table shared Bread Pudding and another run at the Gateaux Sirop. The much improve cake and the bread pudding was a fine end to an excellent meal.

I highly recommend this establishment south of Jennings for a leisurely Saturday afternoon drive of about 45 minutes to eat superior food on the water


Tuesday, February 7, 2012


The Green Shack Diner

1021 East McNeese

Lake Charles LA


Monday to Saturday 10:30 AM to 7:00 PM Cost $1 to $10

Sunday 10:30 AM to 3: PM

On the corner of McNeese and Louisiana, this venue used to be Crawfish Cowboy or vice versa. It did boiled seafood, plate lunches and short orders. However since it changed names it must have changed the cooks. To me the food is now several notches above the former place.

First foray was a plate lunch of Pork Roast, rice & gravy, potato salad, greens, and texas toast. First of all with lots of establishment doing loin roast this venue does it the old fashioned way with a pork shoulder. It is slowly pot roasted until it is fall apart tender with lovely gravy served over decent rice. The potato salad was a sweet pickle mashed potato style which I love. The greens possessed a dose of vinegar which suited my taste. It was a really great meal for a self proclaimed “hole in the wall”.

Next time I got a big bowl of Seafood Gumbo. Dark roux and great seafood flavored broth. Now it did have a bit of sausage but it had been used judiciously. It added spice to the dish without overpowering it. It also contained a number of medium shrimp. The kicker was that the crab meat came in the form of a whole crab. Not one of those gumbo crabs but a monster with huge claws. It contained a fair amount of meat. I was sticky everywhere after going after the meat is this behemoth. However I was happy and sated. I also ordered a crab pistolette. The stuffing was inside the product. Unfortunately it had not been fried long enough to get the center was hot, must have been cooked from frozen.

Last time in was their eight ounce steak burger to which I added bacon, cheese, and grilled onions. I hardly ever use this phrase but “OH MY GOD”. It was perfect in every way except for a smallish bun. The patty exuded this liquor of the gods. The smokiness of the bacon beyond the pale with the slices just the way I like them. Even the american cheese seemed unearthly. The onions were the icing on the cake. I literally inhaled it. It was almost a religious experience for me. Cannot guarantee it for the rest of you but you must try it.

Do go here. They offer boiled seafood, pork chops, smothered okra dishes, fried shrimp and chicken. They even do a Patton’s (New Orleans brand) sausage po boy. The interior is not fancy but the food will transport you out of there. There can be some confusion but they are so friendly that I can

Le Peep Cafe

3800 Ryan St

Lake Charles LA



6:30 AM to 9:00 PM Cost $2.50 to $17

This new construction remained just a slab with a sign for what seemed an eternity. When they started on the structure it went fast. Before you knew it they opened. I got the hours from the website. Last time I went in they were only doing breakfast and lunch. I recommend calling to ensure hours before you venture there. It they have truly opened at night I will report on it in a future column.

First time in I just happen to past by and they were open. One nice thing about this venue is that each table has a liter carafe of ice water and glasses. Their menu is so massive I went with a standard of mine, Bacon Cheese Burger. The choice of sides is rather extensive but I settled on Chicken and Sausage gumbo. It came with a drumstick although recently I saw it with just meat and sausage. It possessed a dark roux and on the whole not too bad. The burger was more than decent with a juicy patty, great bacon and melted shredded cheddar/jack cheese on a standard bun. I enjoyed it

I took my sister to breakfast. They had a name your item breakfast at that time. She went with the three item option and chose ham, scrambled eggs, and fruit. It looked good and she had no complaints. I went with what they call the Hen Pen. It consists of two eggs, choice of protein, and their Peasant Potatoes. I opted for sunny side up and corned beef hash. I love hash. This one was delicious and seemed to be made in house not from a can. The potatoes were like home fries (cubes). My only complaint is that I would have loved more hash.

Next was a plate lunch of Meatball Stew. Not informed the stew had potatoes (southwest LA meatball stews usually do not) I got mashed potatoes, corn, and green beans for sides. A bread basket of small school house rolls and a crumbly corn bread was part of the meal. Unfortunately the meatballs had been overworked and were extremely dense. They were also very salty as was the stew liquid. Mashing the potato hunk into it helped. The sides were ok.

The Stuffed French Toast was next. The menu said French toast stuffed with ricotta and cream cheese with orange and lemon zest. What I got was four slices of French toast with the cheese mixture sandwiched in-between after the slices were cooked. Not what I expected. It taste fine and I let it go. I also got a side of grits and bacon that was more than fine. Next came Migas. According to them scrambled eggs with crunchy tortilla chips, onion, jalapenos, topped with cheddar/jack cheese, avocado and tomatoes. I got that sans the crunchy chips with a flour tortilla on the side. Since I consider the crunchy corn tortilla essential to this dish, I was highly disappointed. How could they forget that? The egg dish was good and again I let it go. Are you perhaps sensing a trend here?

Last dish was Prime Rib Open Face sandwich. They say prime rib dipped in au jus layered open face over a toasted hoagie. The server even asked me how I wanted it. I said med rare. What I got was a slab of meat not thin slices of well done prime rib laid perpendicular on an untoasted hoagie bun with some nasty gravy on the end that was not on the bun, nothing to dip it in. Again it was edible but not what the menu said it would be.

Some might say I should have sent it back. I will in the future if I so encounter it. However when I am in the process of reviewing a restaurant I am not there to show them how to do it right. I am there to see what they are doing. My conclusion on this one is that they need to get the menu and kitchen in sync. Either rewrite the menu or get line cooks who can execute the present menu. That might have happened already as this place has switched their open times and shorten their menu items several times since I started reviewing. The food is generally good and I would consider them as a last minute choice.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Southern Gail


Southern Gail

2331 Broad St

Lake Charles LA


Monday to Friday 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM Cost $1.50 to $11

This venue has been more BBQ places than I can name. The new tenants did a bang up job of renovating it. However since they have no public restroom everything has to be take-away. Their rather short menu includes BBQ chicken and ribs along with a sampler plate. Top of the list is smothered okra with shrimp and sausage. They also have a shrimp etouffee and the newest one is smothered ribs which I have not eaten.

As is my want I went for the BBQ combo. It contained a chicken leg and thigh, a large ribs and a link of sausage. The sides were potato salad and pork & beans along with garlic bread. Both chicken and rib showed a nice smoke ring. Both were tender and juicy. They had both been glazed in the signature BBQ sauce. It is a bit different from most around here but tasty. The sausage showed no evidence of smoking but was a tasty piece of meat. I enjoyed them all. The pork & beans seemed straight out of a can and the mashed potato style potato salad with chopped hard boiled eggs suited my taste. The garlic bread was a section of a French loaf

The smothered okra with sausage and shrimp over rice was some of the best stuff I put in my mouth in a long time. It rivaled my mothers. It was perfection on a plate. Neither too slimy or tomato. Needless to say I scarf it down with out hesitation

The etouffee here is a white one. I have never seen a white one before, plenty of red and brown and in between but never white. It was served with green beans and garlic bread. In the end I did not care for it. There was a flavor that was off putting to me. All I can say is that you will have to try it yourself, could have been an off day.

However I enjoyed everything else and I am sure you will too. I may go back for the smothered ribs. Sounds like something I would like. I think it is well worth a try and you will be supporting a small and local business.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Pink Pig


Pink Pig

1221 North Martin Luther King Hwy

Lake Charles LA


Monday to Saturday 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM Cost $1 to $20

After a long hiatus this off shoot of Carlyss BBQ reopened under new management. It now has a dinning area but I went through the drive-thru as it is more convenient for me.

First time I noticed a smoked hamburger on offer. I could not resist. I ordered it along with some tamales. I really like the Carlyss ones. The burger can be ordered fully dressed but I prefer my smoked patty pretty plain although I did get a slice of cheese. The burger was thick enough it had a smoke ring but was not dried out at all. It possessed great smoky and meaty flavor. The tamales have a nice masa to meat ratio. The masa good and corny and the ground meat just right, makes for good tamale for me. They were a bit dry and I remembered I usually get chili with them. That would made them just like the ones I get in Carlyss.

Second round was a four meat combo. It contained brisket, chicken, ribs and sausage with rice dressing, beans and potato salad. Along side was a honey butter pistollete and sauce. While the brisket was cooked to perfection it had little smoke to it. When I mentioned it to the lady at the window she replied the pits here were a little different than at Carlyss and she would make sure it never happened again. The ribs and dark chicken quarter were smoky and had a nice glaze to them, tasty. The sausage again showed little smoke but was OK. The excellent beans seemed to have been cooked with onions which I liked. The mashed potato style potato salad had some sweet pickle relish in it. Again something I like. The fried pistollete had been injected with honey butter and proved excellent.

Last time I sorta grazed on the menu. I ordered a BBQ pistollete, garfish ball, boudin ball and a link of smoked boudin. All were great. The non greasy fried pistollete had been split half way and a nice bit of chopped beef put in it. I grew up eating garfish and these balls are very similar to the ones my mother made. They are more of a boulette style with ground gar and potatoes. A nice crisp crust and great rice to meat ratio made the boudin balls excellent. Lastly a nice smoky boudin link, I like regular but smoking it gives it another flavor dimension.

They have started off well and I hope it remains so.