Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Toga Grill

Been awhile so I swung by to check the quality. Still up to par. Below looks like a scoop of ice cream but it is a falafel covered in spicy yogurt sauce with a slice of tomato, pickle, and pickled radish. Jamal was handing these out Wednesday if he felt you had been waiting awhile for your food. In other words I was not the only one to get this treat and it was a treat.
I ordered the Kefta Kabob plate. Kefta is ground meat traditionally lamb but probably beef here. It seasoned up with spices and vegetables and formed around a flat skewer. Grilled to perfection and taken off for service. Along with these tender and juicy tubes of meat I got Lebanese potatoes, hummus, pickles, taboulleh, and lentil/rice with yogurt sauce. All of it was as I remember. What makes this food standout it is made fresh daily from the owner's family recipes. Somethings might not be made yet just go on to the next thing because it is all good.

A whole pita bread cut in triangles came with the plate
I got a mamul which is a filled cookie. This one was filled with dates. The crust was like a sugar cookie. It was great with my complimentary Turkish coffee.
Jamal also wanted me to taste the baklava. This is the one made with phyllo dough. He makes another one that is a family recipe with semolina flour. The one below was walnut and as good as I have ever had.

Wine Dinners at Besh Restaurants

April Showers of Wine

Besh Restaurant Group Presents Three Wine Dinners in April

April showers are bringing notes of black cherries, soft bouquets, and great finishes to August and La Provence! Sommelier Michelle Gueydan of Besh Restaurant Group will gather oenophiles for three food and wine dinners this April.

Weygandt Wines

Wednesday, April 7, 2010; 6 pm at La Provence

$85 per person, all inclusive

Renowned importer, Peter Weygandt, will hand-select and present French wines from his celebrated artisanal and “boutique” wine portfolio to accompany a four-course spring menu collaboration between chef John Besh and his “Chef to Watch,” Erick Loos, highlighting ingredients from the farm at La Provence. Peter Weygandt is known both nationally and internationally for his selections and has been featured in Time Magazine, The New York Times and Food & Wine Magazine.

Silver Oak Cellars

Thursday, April 8, 2010; 6 pm at August

$150 per person, all inclusive

“Life is a Cabernet” for Silver Oak Cellars winemaker, Daniel Baron, who will present the vineyard’s 2005 Alexander and Napa Cabernets as well as selections from Twomey Cellars paired with a five-course menu prepared by chef John Besh and sous chef, Mike Gulotta. The 2005 Alexander Valley Cabernet is full bodied, yet refined with a nose of black cherry, clove, cinnamon, lavender, and licorice making it seamless on the palate with a solid core of berry fruit, while the 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet boasts a complex nose of boysenberry, truffles, wild game, soy and black pepper presenting a silky mouth feel and elegant, long finish with slight tannic grip. A former board member for the American Society for Enology, Daniel Baron has been making wine with Duncan family wineries for more than 15 years after previous experience with Dominus in NapaValley and Petrus in Bordeaux, France.

Jordan Vineyard & Winery

Tuesday, April 27, 2010; 6 pm at August

$125 per person, all inclusive

Winemaker Rob Davis will pair a vertical tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon in vintages from 2002-2004, along with J Sparkling and Jordan Chardonnay with a five-course menu prepared by chef John Besh and sous chef, Mike Gulotta. The 2002 varietal begins with flavors of cassis, black cherry, cedar and leather, while the 2003 varietal carries notes of black cherry with a hint of blueberry and a nice mid-weight of oak and fruit tannin, and the 2004 varietal captures the flavors of cherry, raspberry, blueberry, plum, cassis, and spicy American Oak with an herbal backdrop to finish. Davis began his winemaking career in 1976, working hand-in-hand with famed winemaker André Tchelistcheff during Jordan Vineyard’s first harvest.

For reservations, please contact Christy Bradley, 504-299-9777, extension 304.

August – 301 Tchoupitoulas Street New Orleans, LA 70130 –

La Provence – 25020 Highway 190 Lacombe, LA70445 –

From Simone Rathle



3502 Ambassador Caffery Pkwy
Lafayette LA

Tuesday to Friday 4PM to 10PM $2 to $25

Someone in the Lafayette area e-mails me when they discover a venue that they think worthy of my attention. This establishment is one of them. I have to agree. Situated just past Johnston St it occupies a former Italian restaurant. The centerpiece here is the brick oven left by the former owners which the current owners put to good use. They use it to finish baking the house bread. Sprinkling it with parmesan and slathering butter on, you get straight from the oven. It also sees duty roasting oysters.

On the first trip I got some Fire Roasted Oysters from it. They come to the table sizzling with butter, garlic and parmesan. Cooked to perfection they were still juicy complemented by the saltiness of the parmesan. The house bread proved handy to soak up the juices. The Seafood Gumbo proved delicious with a medium roux and a load of protein (four crab fingers, three oysters and four medium shrimp) in just a cup. This go round I went with the Softshell Crab Explosion. They start with a base of eggplant crab dressing. Then a split deep fried crab is set on it forming a valley that they fill with sauteed lump crabmeat. All these elements make for a delightful dish. Sweet and crunchy softshell, buttery and sweet crabmeat and the underlying spicy dressing with great eggplant flavor. Planked potatoes and grilled vegetables accompanied it. I cannot recommend the Chocolate Beignets. Mine proved to a rock solid piece of fried dough with a chocolate center and smothered in chocolate sauce. Talk about a sinker.

A recent second visit I started with rich but light Crab and Corn Bisque. Excellent broth not killed by adding heavy whipping cream just a bit of dairy. I followed that with Phares Oysters. Fried oysters sitting on top of a kind of spinach and artichoke dip served with tortilla chips. The crispy fried oysters played well against the creamy and cheesy flavor of the vegetables. The Fried Eggplant with Cajun Remoulade also proved excellent. They slice the eggplant lengthwise and then into huge sticks. They were not greasy and full of creamy eggplant flavor. The sauce accentuated that. Last but not least and the reason my informant loves this place, raw oysters. These were a bit on the small size but plump and juicy with a nice briny component. I declined the side condiments as I truly like the flavor of oyster and don’t want it hindered. I did not risk the beignet again but went with the bread pudding. It appeared at the table topped with thick pecan streusel and berries in a buttery rum sauce. My first thought was “a repeat of last time”. However after scraping off the entire gunk, the bread pudding proved ethereal, thick, light, and custardy. They got it perfect. Why do people persist on trying to make it more perfect? Beyond my comprehension. Despite my personal dessert problems this is a lovely restaurant with great service and even better food. Don’t hesitate to go there.

Daigle Sausage

Daigle Sausage Kitchen
726 East Russell Ave (Hwy 90)
Welsh, LA

Monday to Friday 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM $1 to $10

This is now my favorite plate lunch place. Albeit 20 miles away but worth the jaunt. It features good Southwest LA country cooking. They also use ingredients you seldom see elsewhere. It is situated on Hwy 90 south of Welsh on the east side of town. Just a cinderblock building, it’s small but homey dinning area feels like your grandmother's kitchen. After entering go left. A display case features meats and sausage. At the end is where you get the plate lunches. The nice thing about this place is the menu rotates around a bit so you seldom have the same thing on the same day. They post the week’s menu on the website so you know when to come in to get your favorite

One thing they offer every week is Beef Tongue. You get the entree and two sides of your choice. With my tongue I received gravy and rice. I choose red beans and sausage and yams. The tongue was exceedingly tender and beefy with gravy to match. Almost as good as my mother use to make. The sweet potatoes looked to be fresh from the field and the beans and sausage tasty with just the right spice.

Second time in I got Shrimp Casserole, Macaroni Salad and Corn. The shrimp dish proved to be shrimp and rice with good seasoning blend. A little moist for my taste however the great shrimp favor and spiciness made it easy to consume. The corn was a great smother down job. The unusual to me macaroni salad was simply mayonnaise with chopped hard-boiled eggs. Next time it was Bouie or Debris as some call it. A mixture of internal organs my mother made many times. I got smothered okra with tomatoes (another favorite my mother made) and applesauce crunch cake. While for the most part very flavorful some of the pieces of protein were a little large and seemed under cooked. However you could not beat it overall. The tasty okra and the sweet cake made a great meal

The last time in but certainly not the last time I will visit I came for the Shrimp Stew with Egg, potato salad and strawberry cake. Most shrimp stews and gumbo I have encountered will have hard-boiled eggs plopped into them. These people like my mother slide raw eggs in and poach them in the gravy. It was like I was back home in the kitchen enjoying this with my mother puttering around the house. The potato salad was mashed potato style and the cake white with strawberry jelly and cooked down strawberries

Don‘t worry they do normal plate lunches also along with short order items such as hamburger, corn dogs, etc. I also bought boudin, smoked boudin, headcheese, and green onion sausage from them. While the regular boudin is a little mushy for me the smoked proved just right with an intense smoky flavor. The headcheese is the real deal using bits and pieces from a boiled head and the gelatin to set it. Combined with vegetable seasoning and a little spice it reminds me of my beloved aunt’s one she made when they butchered the hog.

While not the most convenient place to go to, if you are in the area give it a try for down home Cajun cooking its best. I know I will frequent it as often as I can

O B's


1301 Ryan St
Lake Charles, LA

Monday to Friday 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM $3 to $15
5:00 PM to 9:00 PM

After not serving food for awhile a couple of months ago they started up again. Sources told me the new guy liked to do things from scratch. I made an exploratory trip. The menu and quality were such I decided on a full review

I started with a cup of gumbo. A Chicken and Sausage one with deep dark roux, loads of flavor and medium spice. Rice came separate, which is a plus in my book. Next up were in-house Boudin Balls. Using a quality boudin there were hand formed balls of delight with a crisp coating and not grease soaked. Best I’ve had in ages. Ribeye and Swiss on Jalapeno bun consisted of sliced ribeye steak and melted cheese. The slices proved tender, juicy and beefy with the bun adding a nice spice note. The in-house onion rings I got with it were perfect.

I then went with a Fried Shrimp Dinner. I could tell they were hand-battered. I prefer just seasoned flour on mine but these grew on me. Fresh and from scratch makes a difference. French fries were OK but went south as they cooled. They do a daily plate lunch. Check the website or call for it. I happened on BBQ Brisket Tuesday. I received three perfect slices of smoked meat (nice smoke ring) with a sweet sauce on the side. They were accompanied by excellent baked beans (smoky BBQ flavor) and a decent potato salad.

I tried the Jalapeno Burger next. To my surprise no jalapeno slices. However it comes on a Jalapeno bun, with Jalapeno mayonnaise and pepper jack cheese along with sauteed onions. I added bacon. The lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles come on the side. It turned out to be a nice juicy beefy spicy mouthful without totally wrecking your taste buds. Last by not least an Open Face Steak sandwich. This is a hand pounded hand battered chicken fried steak on a bun. It was cooked to perfection and non-greasy although the batter proved a bit bland. It did come with a little tub of cream gravy. I just put mine on the meat. I guess you could dunk it also.

All I can say the food is back at this popular bar and it is bad (excellent of course)

Easter at August

Full of Easter Promise

August Offers Easter Brunch

August is full of Easter promise on Sunday, April 4, 2010 with a brunch menu that flourishes with spring’s most popular choices – freshwater seafood, farm-raised eggs, young tender vegetables, and of course, dreamy desserts.

The four course prix-fixe brunch menu for $45 combines the finest local ingredients with spring flavors for dishes such as Beignets de Morue, Salt Cod Fritters in Emmentaler Crust with Spicy Red Pepper Aïoli; Stuffed Artichokes with Jumbo Shrimp, Local Crab Mean and Warm Saffron Vinaigrette; Roast Breast of Label Rouge Chicken with Sweet Pea Pesto, Morel Mushrooms and Pea Tendrils; and Ragoût of Belle River Crawfish Tails and Fava Beans over Fresh Semolina Pasta. And for the little ones under 12, gussied up in their Easter best? A selection of chef favorites that are mindful of a child’s palate is available for $18.

The Easter Brunch at August is available from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. For reservations please call 504.299.9777 or visit Price is per person, excludes tax and gratuity.
From Simon Rathle

Friday, March 26, 2010

Jubans Baton Rouge

Wednesday on our way back we stopped in Baton Rouge at Jubans for lunch. We had eaten there several years ago and found it great. Below is their signature sweet potato chips they bring out to snack on. Perfection. Probably the best I have had. The Chef's honey bourbon at the top was one reason we stopped in. Nice stuff. As driver I could only get a sip.
I opted for the soup of the day which was a crawfish and corn bisque with a ball of the crawfish stuffing usually put in the carapace. It was not a traditional brown one but a cream bisque. Makes sense since this is a Creole restaurant. It was light and tasty with a nice spice bite.
The bread basket which was baked pistolettes.

The Chef went with Juban's Smoked Chicken, Roasted Duck & Andouille Gumbo. We exchanged plates. Halfway across the table I could smell the smokiness of this dish which brought a smile to my face. The taste was even better. The smoke did not overcome it. An excellent dark roux with a rich broth and tasty bits of meat. Could eat it every day
What they call a sensation salad. A side salad of mixed greens with the in-house garlic vinaigrette finished with parmesan cheese
I got the Wednesday Lunch Special, Seafood Stuffed Mirliton. It consisted of Louisiana crawfish, shrimp, and crabmeat stuffed in a boiled mirliton served with a crawfish rice pilaf and fresh vegetables. The seafood was in a cream sauce topped with cheese. A little spicy but something that matched well with the somewhat bland and vegetative mirliton (vegetable pear, chayote). I was quite pleased and ate every bite. The vegetable was a mixture of haricot vert and sugar snap pea. Light and refreshing. The rice added an additional seafood note.
The Chef went with the Honey Bourbon Center Cut Pork Chop. A 12oz. center-cut pork rib chop broiled with Juban's honey bourbon glaze. This continued the theme of the honey bourbon he was drinking. By the way they make this magic elixir in house. My taste proved tender and juicy with an underlying sweetness. Right up my alley
He also got the vegetable of the day along with roasted potatoes which also proved excellent. I caught him dipping them in the sauce. A great move in my opinion.
I went with the bread pudding which was the only off note at this meal. It was too dense for my taste and had raisins which I hate in bread pudding. The sauce was nice though. It seemed to have a nice citrus note
The chef went with a Creme Brulee. It was tarted up with whipped cream, berries, and a chocolate twig. The crust was crispy with just enough burnt caramelized sugar to make it interesting. The custard flavor was spot on but a little loose for my taste
This is a great place and will return here as often as I can.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fiesta Latina Kenner

Was in Kenner last week for the Sysco Food Show. For out of town participants they sometimes provide rooms. We were lucky enough to score. We came in Tuesday afternoon and I had scouted out a place to have dinner. We found our way there and were very pleased. The chips and salsa were great especially the salsa. Both The Chef and I had not encountered this type before. It was so good that we said almost simultaneously " It is good enough to drink". Based on the menu they are a pan-hispanic place ranging from Mexico to northern Latin America. I am still kicking myself for not thinking to ask for a take away menu. They had a whole page of breakfast items. Several reviews I had read said authentic food and I think it was

I got an appetizer that I had encountered before in an El Salvadorian pupuseria. It is a salad of fried yuca with a marinated cabbage slaw and chicharon. This one had an added salsa. There were minor quibbles. Some of the yuca pieces were too big and undercooked and the chicaron were pork belly pieces and hard as rocks. However the cabbage was perfect and the overall flavor like I remember.
The Chef got an empanada app. Three fried crust pockets loaded with ground meat and vegetables like corn and beans. He also received some cabbage slaw that had a feta like queso on it. It had not been brined so it was fresher and not quite as salty. I am lucky I got a bite of the empanadas but there were delicous. I was drinking a guanaban or soursop Agua Fresca made from the actual fruit. This is one of those tropical fruit that taste like a blend of fruits. This one tasted of strawberries, pineapple and coconut. The Chef was drinking the exotic beers that they had including Pacifica.

The chef opted for a Carne Asada dish. He received beef, a mozzarella like cheese, cooked beans, rice, and salad with a lime wedge and flour tortillas. My taste of the beef proved tender and juicy with just the right seasoning. He sat there making tacos quite happily.
Mine was Camerone el Diablo. Shrimp in chipotle sauce. I got refried beans that I swear were made to order. Not a big fan but these were outstanding. I also got the salad and rice with lime. I went with corn tortilla and I got basically a pupusa ( thick corn tortilla). The shrimp had not been overcooked and I swear the sauce was chipotle in adobo pureed then thinned with some stock. It was that good kind of spicy. It never hurt so good. I would lick my finger and let the heat subside then go after it again.
We shared a piece of coconut flan that was to die for. It was so rich and we were so stuffed that we barely finished it. I wish we had such a place in Lake Charles. Good food. We were the only anglos in the place. I love a place where I can barely make myself understood. It seems to mean good cuisine and great atmosphere.


A new e-buddy suggested this sandwich from AJ's. He was right it was great. Futzing around the Internet this morning a ran across a Mississippi micro brewery(Lazy Magnolia) and their Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale. I noted that AJ's was listed as serving their products. Just another reason for going there for lunch. I don't work after lunch. Sure enough they had it and I drank it. It was a smooth lightly hopped and malty brew. Easy going down and good with food.
Here is a link to their site

Now comes the sandwich which is called The Shocker. Description on the menu goes like
A grilled marinated chicken breast, hickory smoked ham, applewood smoked bacon, swiss, pickles and honey mustard. My e-buddy suggested adding sauteed onions which I love and I added some pickled jalapenos. For the heat and because I don't like dill pickles and got it without them. I like the vinegar bite but not the dill. The kitchen forgot the jalapenos so the server brought out a dish of them. I was able to put just the right amount to get a nice buzz without killing the taste bud. Like with many good sandwiches the whole exceeded the sum of the parts. Each bite was juicy, smoky, crispy with just that note of heat and vinegar. I loved it
I got the soup of the day but the camera refused to cooperate. I took three pictures and none of them came out. I could not even adjust them electronically. It was a crawfish and corn bisque with a cheesy broth, plumb crawfish, and good shot of spice. Very nice. This is a fine place to get a burger, sandwich or wrap if you are downtown. Not to mention a good beer.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Kettle Chips

Well it is definite. The Krinkle cut is thicker and I do not care for that. I use to but not these days. What can I say taste do change. I loved the flavor though. Sometimes simpler is better. Although looking on the back of the bag the pepper is a mixture of black pepper, white pepper, jalapeno, and black pepper oil. So you see there is some complexity to it. It however makes sense to me as each one of those pepper hit a different part of the mouth giving an overall pepper flavor. Because the black pepper is cracked and evident on the chip you think it is just that. Well anyway I do like this flavor and look forward to my taste adventure until I cannot find new flavor in this area

Breakfast Sunday

I could not even begin to name this. It is a mish-mash of things I had hanging around. It looks a train wreck but I can tell you it was delicious. I started off with rendering some bacon slices cut into lardons. I usually have bacon in the freezer in three slice packages. Having no potatoes but having some white corn tortillas I cut about four of them into squares and popped into the skillet on top of the rendered bacon. When crispy I emptied and put in some diced onions that I had chopped from some going bad. Add a little oil and some Morton Hot Salt I sauteed until limp and little caramelized. Those went in on top of the bacon and tortilla squares. Some spiral ham I had frozen from New Year went into the skillet to drive off moisture and brown a bit. That achieved the onions, bacon and tortillas were poured back in. In the mean time I had made a mixture of eggs, nuoc cham, chipotle paste and cajun seasoning. Not enough to make a fritatta but enough to toss around in the mixture to make a sorta of egg enhanced hash. Again if came delicious and I enjoyed it. Probably never repeat it again but this morning it hit the spot

Cajun Singles

Shopped at McNeese Krogers and found the Savoie selection limited. However I did find this in the Richards case. As I had done a Savoie I though it only right to try this. It proved very nice indeed. This is a case of the extra liquid in the Richard product proving an advantage. The Savoie was extremely dry. In this product I got a mixture of whole beans and mashed beans and decent sized sliced sausage. It was spicier and the rice ok. All in all I would by this again if I had a hankering for red beans and did not feel like making a whole pot. I would never touch the Savoie product again although I like many of their other ones.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Nowfe and others

Three culinary festivals sure to satisfy
every taste bud in summer 2010

As New Orleans continues to celebrate its newfound superstar status as Super Bowl Champions there are three more reasons to visit one of Travel + Leisure’s "America's Favorite Cities" this summer. The 19th annual New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE) kicks off summer with its five-day extravaganza May 25–29, 2010. Long sultry days are welcomed with an abundance of fresh Louisiana seafood at the 3rd annual Louisiana Seafood Festival June 11–13, 2010. And the 8th anniversary event of Tales of the Cocktail is sure to raise the spirits of any summer-loving, food and spirit connoisseur July 21–25, 2010.

The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience is nationally recognized as one of the most prestigious festivals of its kind and features over 175 wineries, 1000 wines, dozens of international wine and food experts, and now continually raises over $125,000 annually for local charities. The event is packed with extraordinary wine and food seminars, wine dinners at some of the cities most celebrated restaurants, one-of-a-kind wine tasting events, and two Grand Tastings on the floor of the famed Louisiana Superdome. The popularity of NOWFE has grown so much over the past 19 years that many events sell-out. Event tickets and special hotel packages can now be reserved at

Louisiana leads the nation in production of both hard and soft-shell crabs, more than 90% of the nation’s crawfish come from Louisiana, 70% of the oysters harvested in the US are from Gulf waters, and 69% of the domestic, US shrimp are harvested from Gulf waters. Therefore, the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Boardknew there was no better place than New Orleans to enjoy a seafood festival when they created the Louisiana Seafood Festival three years ago. The annual event takes place in the heart of New Orleans and celebrates the abundance of seafood that plays a tremendous part in the heritage and culture of the city. Festival attendees can feast on a variety of Louisiana seafood from alligator to oysters and everything in between. From the traditional Louisiana shrimp po’boy on fresh baked French bread to classic New Orleans favorites like crawfish étouffée. The event will feature local restaurants and local music within the atmosphere of the historic French Quarter.

Tales of the Cocktail, an event produced by the New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society, is an internationally acclaimed festival of cocktails, cuisine and culture held annually in New Orleans. The event brings together the best and brightest of the cocktail community—award-winning mixologists, authors, bartenders, chefs and designers—for a five-day celebration of the history and artistry of making drinks. Each year offers a Spirited Dinner® series, demos, tastings, competitions, seminars, book signings, tours and parties all perfectly paired with some of the best cocktails ever made. Special ticket packages are available now for a limited time only at

The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience is a non-profit organization. Over it's 19-year history, the Board of the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience has dispersed over a million dollars in donations to support various local programs and foundations. Proceeds from the 2010 event will benefit the Louisiana Restaurant Association's ProStart School-to-Career Program; The University of New Orleans School of Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism; The John Folse Culinary Institute; Delgado Community College School of Culinary Arts; Cancer Crusaders; Girls First; Animal Rescue of New Orleans; Coach Sean Payton's Play It Forward Foundation; Fore!Kids Foundation and New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts Culinary School. The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience 2010 will be held May 25-29, 2010. For additional press information, including downloadable images, contact Liz Bodet 504.583.5550, or visit the media center at

The Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board was created in 1984 by the state of Louisiana to support their vast historical commercial fisheries industry. The Board is composed of 15 members and each member represents a sector of the industry: harvesters, processors, wholesalers, restaurateurs/retailers, fisheries resource managers, public health officers and marketing specialists. The Board's operating budget is derived from license sales to Louisiana commercial fishermen and seafood wholesalers/retailers as well as state and federal grants. The Board represents over 12,000 fishermen while promoting and marketing $2.6 billion of retail seafood sales annually to the consumer.

The New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society is a non-profit organization committed to preserving the unique culture of dining and drinking in New Orleans and the storied bars and restaurants that have contributed to the city's world-wide culinary acclaim. This organization supports members of the hospitality industry through education and the production of events like Tales of the Cocktail and, most recently, Trails of the Cocktail, a scholarship program for emerging talent in the New Orleans cocktail industry.

From Liz Goliwas Bodet

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Reef Houston

2600 Travis St
Houston TX

Lunch Monday to Friday $5 to $24

This establishment has received many accolades. That and the menu prompted me to suggest it as a meeting place for some Lake Charles people to meet some friends that had move to Virginia but were in Houston for a day or two. The interior is classic modern industrial with exposed ceilings, brick walls and painted concrete floor. Seating consisted of brushed aluminum chairs and tables. It also possessed an open kitchen.

I will first tackle my meal. Then items I got a taste of followed by items I did not taste. First in line was Seafood Gumbo. It possessed a deep dark roux in an excellent broth with crab fingers, shrimp and sausage. They balanced the sausage against the seafood and it provided great taste. Steamed Mussels in Shiner Bock with toasted ancho chile came next. I love mussels and this proved to be something different and delicious. The deep red sauce was slightly bitter from the hops and chilies and just spicy enough. Made a nice contrast to the sweet and succulent mussels. For entree I went with the Simply Grilled Amberjack. Unfortunately my filet was simply over cooked. I barely ate more than a few bites. Undercooked I could have handled. I was with a large group and I suspect mine got done first and just sat there waiting on the others entrees. Dessert made up for it. A Vietnamese Coffee Tart with Condensed Milk ice cream. It was a rift on Sua da or coffee with chicory diluted with sweeten condensed milk and poured over ice. I got all those flavors in this wonderful dessert.

I tasted Beetroot Ravioli, which was superb. A Spicy Shrimp Roll (lobster roll style) was served with mango. My taste proved spicy, sweet, and crisp from the toasted roll. I would return for this in a second. Grilled Wahoo with plantains and long beans with plum jus was excellent (well grilled and moist). On the Creme Fraiche Cheesecake and Cherries with Honey Gelato I only got a taste of the cheesecake. The light slightly tart cake went well with the slightly sweet cherries. Again a winner

Other dishes included Spring Roll Wrapped Shrimp with a hot and spicy sauce, Baked oysters with creamy Swiss chard, lime pickle and Asiago bread crumbs, and Mix Seafood Grill (shrimp, snapper, scallop) on a sugar cane skewer over Harissa cous cous rounded out the meals. Everyone was oohing and aahing but mainly stuffing their faces.

Despite my grilled fish I would recommend this for people who love seafood and are looking for a new and innovated preparation for it. I would return if offered the opportunity.



Shop-A-Lot Deli
2707 Hazel St
Lake Charles, LA

Monday to Saturday 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM $1 to $21

This in-store deli situated in a somewhat iffy neighborhood has one claim to fame. Eric Cormier declared it has the best-fried chicken in the city. Having tasted it I will second his opinion. They have space for in-house dinning or you get it at the Drive Thru. If you can catch them on the phone, this will speed your way through. However I never could so I just took my chances and expected to wait at the window. The deli area is clean if a little shopworn. Most people take their items to go.

First time in, I got a three-piece dinner mixed that included drumstick, thigh and wing along with gravy and mashed potatoes. The chicken had a nice thick crisp crunchy crust with a nice spice blend. The interior was moist and a bit spicy from the marinade. It held the heat very well from my first bite to my last. The mashed potatoes and gravy did not meet the chicken’s standard. Next time I will go with just chicken,

I tried a Hamburger Steak plate lunch next. I received two hamburger patties in onion gravy with corn and mashed potatoes on the side. The sauteed corn proved delicious, as did the onion gravy. The patties did not seem to be formed there. They were OK. Mashed potatoes were disappointing

Last time through I went with Fried Boudin, Crab Burger, and a Shrimp Po Boy with onion rings. They do fried boudin here differently. It is not balls but the whole link dipped in the chicken batter and deep fat fried. I love it even through the skin can present a minor problem. The crab patty, shrimp and onion rings were prefabricated products. In such a small operation (3 people) such short cuts can be expected. However they choose superior products that worked well in their operation. The rings were beer battered and thick, which I like. The patty had great crab flavor and the shrimp was a breaded product that seemed to compliment the po boy bread.

In a perfect world everything would be made from scratch. Here the chicken certainly is, I feel these people put forth a good faith effort on the rest. The star here is the chicken and probably will always be

Easter in New Orleans at the Calcasieu Rooms

Celebrate Easter at Chef Donald Link's Calcasieu
Sunday, April 4, 11am - 3pm


Asparagus and Black Eye Pea Salad
with Butcher Prosciutto

Louisiana Crab and Lobster Bisque

Peppercorn Crusted Ham
with Fried Cheese Grits,
Poached Egg and Hollandaise

Bacon and Herb Stuffed Leg of Lamb
with Green Beans and
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Grilled Scottish Salmon
with Herb Crêpe

Louisiana Blueberry Upside Down Cake

Chocolate Pot de Crème

Three course Easter menu $44 plus tax and gratuity

Kids Easter Menu
Fruit Plate
Boneless Fried Chicken and Fries
Ice Cream Sandwich
Kids Menu $17 plus tax and gratuity

For reservations please call 588-2123

From the Link Restaurant Group

Monday, March 15, 2010

Kettle Chips

I think that the non krinkle cuts are thinner therefore allowing the flavor on it to stand out more. This one had white cheddar and parmesan. It exuded cheese. The non spicy flavors will be my down fall as I ate this bag in a day or so while the spicy go a little slower. Like I said very cheesy without that ersatz yellow color. Nice mellow combination of flavors. Highly recommended for cheese lovers.

Spring at John Restaurants

Spring Chicken

Besh Restaurant Group Celebrates the Flavors of the Season with the Chicken and the Egg

Sited on the land directly behind Lacombe’s distinguished restaurant, La Provence, chef John Besh’s farm is “springing” into action with beautiful vegetables, bustling chicken, timid goats, and the newest to the group, Mangalitsa pigs. Once again, the farm contributes to all the restaurants, in one way or another, for guests who eagerly take pleasure in a true farm-to-table experience.

To reawaken your palate from the long cold winter, August, Lüke, Domenica, Besh Steak, and La Provence, are offering deliciously savory, yet lighter chicken and egg dishes that exude the fresh flavors of spring straight from Besh’s own chicken coop and eggery. For something a little more soft and aromatic, treat yourself to August’s Whole Roast of Label Rouge Chicken with Agnolotti of Braised Thigh, Pied de Mouton Mushrooms and Grilled Pears, or try Lüke’s Poulet Grand Mere Herb Roast Chicken with Jus Naturel, Allen Benton’s Bacon and Whipped Potatoes. At Domenica the Pollo Arrosto of Local Chicken with Lemon, Rosemary, Fava Beans and Olives draws from rustic traditions found on the Italian countryside, while Besh Steak’s Heart of Romaine Salad with Bread and Butter Pickles, Tomato, Garden Egg, and Thousand Island Dressing complements your dinner with a true American classic. And just outside the city is La Provence, where the authentic Provençal restaurant gives a warm welcome to the season with Truffle and Herb Stuffed Breast of Local Chicken with Thigh Confit, Braised Spring Onions and Morel Mushrooms and a dessert of Yard Egg Crème Brûlée with Red Wine Stewed Berries.

Spring could not have come soon enough and Besh Restaurant Group is primed and ready to feed New Orleanians out of their winter culinary hibernation.

For more information on the Besh Restaurant Group, visit or

By Simone Rathle

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Luke's for Lunch

I have friends (a couple) that use to live in Lake Charles but moved to New Orleans. After the big storms they moved on to Virginia. They return to the area about twice a year and we always arrange to have a meal together. This weekend they were visiting in New Orleans and we arranged to eat lunch a Luke's a John Besh restaurant named for his son. We started off with a Le Petite Plateau de Fruits de Mer which consisted of 1 lobster tail, 8 oysters, 6 shrimp, 4 clams , 8 mussels, half a crab, king crab legs, crawfish, and ceviche. The lobster tail was not overcooked which I seldom encounter and sweet. The oysters were perfect fat and briny and did not need the accompaniments of sauce making (ketchup, horseradish and mayo). The boiled shrimp were perfection easy to peel and possessed that sweet shrimp taste. The clams were small but tasty with a seasoning that spoke of New Orleans. The steamed mussels tender and fat with their own definite taste which I love. I do not think the crab was a La blue but again cooked to perfection and had that sweet crab flavor I love. The same with the crab legs. Sweet perfection. The lime based ceviche contained squid with a healthy hit of spice. Quite delectable. This I would order again and again. They kindly bring hot towel with a lemon wedge so you can clean your hands and face.

The wife of the couple got a beet salad with blue cheese, pistachios and baby greens with a side of frites (French Fries). My taste proved heavenly. The combo of a lightly pickled beet, greens, blue cheese and the pistachios worked well together. The husband ordered the slow cooked local veal grillades over creamy McEwen and Sons grits
with poached yard eggs. We were still on the Saturday Brunch menu. This was a full meal with tender pieces of meat swimming is a Cajun brown sauce with delicious corny grits and two perfectly poached eggs. You can definitely see the country basis of this dish. My taste possessed a nice hit of spice also I got a “BLT” A buster crab, tomato, Allen Benton’s bacon and lettuce sandwich. It came out on griddled bread with a lots of bacon and a whale soft shell in a light crust. The smell was intoxicating and the taste more so. The salty smoky bacon played well against the sweet crab. As most you know I have a soft spot for softies. The frites were great also. One of the best in the city. This was a prime example of the kind of stuff I love. I have eaten here three times and I could eat here 300 times. If some this sound familiar look down about three posts to Simone Rathle press release that I posted. It was a wonder meal and wonderful conversation. That is why I make my business to eat with people whenever I can

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cajun Singles

Creamy New Orleans style with thinly slice sausage. Not much spice to it. Would do in a pinch. Need to be a bit more moist. Dryness not a good factor here. By the way I went back and made a list of the ones I have done so there will be no repeats.

Spice level OK but not what I would call piquante. They say tomato but I got little of that. Lots of both white and dark chicken chunks and some thinly sliced sausage. If you like lots of protein this one is for you.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Breakfast in New Orleans

Morning Glory

Start the day in the Best of Taste at Lüke and Domenica

No matter what your feelings about waking in the morning – whether you bound out of bed to greet the day, or groan and hit the snooze button – there’s no denying that the right breakfast or weekend brunch can set you up and send you off full of vim and vinegar.

If you’re lucky enough to be waking in New Orleans, two restaurants should command your attention: Lüke (adjacent to the Hilton St. Charles,) in the tradition of the great old Franco-German brasseries of New Orleans’ past; and Domenica (in the historic Roosevelt Hotel,) serving bountiful rustic Italian cuisine. Both are creations of acclaimed chef John Besh and offer morning fare that you’ll wish were available all day….

At Lüke (starting at 7am seven days a week,) if you fancy a bit of everything, you can’t go wrong with the St. Charles Buffet for $18.50, which includes scrambled organic eggs, cane syrup sausage, maple sausage, Allen Benton’s smoked bacon, McEwen and Sons grits, artisan cheeses, Bittersweet Plantation’s yogurt, and seasonal fruit and muesli. Or perhaps go for a dish of your choosing: Chicken and Waffles featuring Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Benton’s Bacon Gravy, House-Made Waffles and Local Mayhaw Syrup; Louisiana Shrimp and Grits with Poche’s Andouille is a home-town favorite; and the Cochon and Eggs on Stewed Greens with Cornichons and Hollandaise brings ham ‘n eggs to a whole new level. Classic breakfast items are always an option for the business executive that wishes to have the most important meal of the day within 30 minutes. A la carte prices range from $9-$22.

Feeling Italian? On weekends, Domenica offers up a hearty yet delectable brunch menu. Each dish evokes the Italian countryside absorbed in a centuries’ worth of culinary tradition: try the Frittata with Goat Cheese, Olives, Roasted Peppers and Spinach; or the Scrambled Egg and White Truffle Bruschetta with Crispy Guanciale – an especially rich and flavorful jowl bacon lovingly cured in the restaurant itself. And while preparing yourself for a “magnifico” meal, why not whet your appetite with one of Domenica’s signature Bellini cocktails: Classic Peach; Pomegranate Molasses; Spiced Apple; and Satsuma Ginger. They’ll leave you sighing for the old country…

There really is no excuse now for mediocrity at breakfast: start the day right, in the best of taste -- and with a distinctly Continental flair.

Lüke- 333 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70130,, 504.378.2840
Domenica-123 Baronne St., New Orleans, LA70112,, 504.648.6020

From Simone Rathle

Saturday, March 6, 2010


I have taken to doing smoothies. The ingredients vary but the basis is frozen bananas. I just peel and freeze whole bananas. When smoothie time comes the banana is slice and put in the plastic cup. Then depending on what I have on hand yogurt (preferably whole milk), milk, juice, peanut butter, etc is added. Then I take my stick blender and do it up. Very tasty and fast with minimum cleanup. This is a banana, orange juice and milk one.

Pork Ribs

Had pork ribs in the freezer from my pig so with the following and my table top appliance I went to town. First the mesquite rub which I let sit for 24 hours. Then a low and slow cooking for about 4 hour while using the basting liquid. Then a slathering of sauce and heat to candy it up
Below is the result land a meal I had with whipped sweet potatoes

Kettle Chips

Continuing on with my exploration of flavors I was less impressed with this one. The cheese flavor and spice seem to have been muted. Also I do not know if I like the krinkle cut ones. They seem to carry less of the seasoning than the plain. I will have to sample another krinkle cut to determine that. I also found not everyone carries this. The best place so far in 12th St Krogers although Hwy 14 Wal Mart has a small selection Albertsons on Country Club has none. So to Krogers next week to catch another flavor

Wendy's Bacon and Blue

I had a coupon so I tried this. It is very good. Perhaps I just like blue cheese but this burger satisfied and I would buy it again. The cheese crumbles and the bacon made magic and everything was in proper proportion. I no longer get lettuce on my burger as it usually is a soggy mess. I long for the day when McDonalds put the hot stuff on one side and the cold on the other.

Fried Grits

What happens to the leftover grits from dishes like the blood sausage over grits. This is what happen. They get put in the icebox. Then cut into cubes tossed with seasonings and self rising and deep fat fried as a side. Below it is paired with some fake crab legs fried in batter.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Izzo's Illegal Burrito Lenten specials

I was invited by the co owner via e-mail to try the specials. They both sounded pretty good and I did try them. One is a Baja Fish Taco with Crispy Fried seasoned Catfish with a Chipotle Remoulade Slaw and Fresh Cilantro. Both are served in a warmed flour tortilla. This one almost had too much cilantro for me. So if cilantro is your enemy tell them. The slaw could have been a bit more crunchy but the flavors were spot on. A nice smoky note that complimented the fish.

The other is a Cabo Shrimp Taco with Fried Shrimp tossed in a nicely balanced Honey Habanero Sauce with Romaine Lettuce, Pico de Gallo, and Shredded Cheese. I enjoyed this a bit more. The heat which built as I ate never exceeded my limit and the honey added an underlining sweetness I like. This one had a bit more crunch and the cheese help easy the bite

They are 7.99 for two. However they let me have one fish and one shrimp for the same price. These are well thought out options and the execution was good also. I will probably return for an encore before lent's end because they will be gone after that. I hope they come up with other specials for holidays. I wonder what a St Patty item would be like.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I like O'Charley's and the reason is below. No not the cotton candy bread that instantaneously goes to a gooey mushy wad of wall paste. By the way not enough butter
Also not particularly the Chicken Harvest soup that in my opinion should be in a nice clear chicken broth instead on enough cream that even I can hear my arteries closing

This is it. A real honest to God French Dip. No cheese, no condiments, no veg. Just meat, soft bread and au jus the way it was meant to be. In my mind you cannot improve on this except maybe a better cut of meat. Also decent onion rings. These beer battered ones were perfect.
They have take away my perfect dessert. A scoop (one) of caramel apple pie ice cream. I love caramel beyond all reason. So I did notice there was a caramel pie on the menu and looked like a relatively small piece. But oh no it came buried under a huge pile of whipped cream, nuts and chocolate bits. Quelle horror. You could not taste the caramel. So after scraping all the c*** off I got to a piece of heaven. I will order this again but hold everything but the caramel pie