Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Big Als 3669 5th Ave., Lake Charles, LA 70601 (337) 478-0818

Recently they have started doing plate lunches. They have no set menu that I know of. I just pull through and ask. On this date it was meatballs and gravy with smothered corn and peach cobbler. I am thinking they are utilizing things from their regular menu and bulking them out. They meatballs were 100 times better than the meatball po boy I got for the review. Larger and hand made. The gravy was excellent. The corn quite tasty and to my liking and the cobbler decent. They never seem to busy so I consider this a viable option for lunch cravings.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Steamboat Warehouse 525 North Main Street Washington, Louisiana 70589 337) 826-7227

I have heard of this place for years and have wanted to go there as long. My Bargain Bee voucher prompted me to do that. Below is the Steamboat Seafood Gumbo - Fresh seafood and okra using Louisiana white crabmeat, shrimp and crawfish. It was wonderful just the way I like it. Thin broth with a dark roux but just not enough to satisfy at the price.

Sidesaddle Angels - Four jumbo shrimp stuffed with oysters, wrapped in applewood smoked bacon, Broiled golden, served with our house remoulade. Gold Medal winner! Again nice flavors but the oysters were so small I could not find them on my first shrimp. Again a little for a lot of money.
Salad from a bag
Sauce Diane in this Establishment is a creamy seafood sauce that you can get extra. It was ok.
Softshell Crabs deep fried. They used to pan fry them which I would have preferred. I got two perfectly fried crabs, some honey glazed carrots and smothered potatoes. It was good but not outstanding.
The feeling that I got here was that they are living on their reputation and coasting. The wait staff was lackadaisical, portions skimpy, and things on the menu not available especially the desserts. Asking what the homemade dessert of the day was got the response "We don't do that anymore" Asking for bread pudding "out of it". The rest of the dessert menu obviously pre -fabricated cheesecake I declined.

Steamboat Warehouse

Dippity 900 S Main St Ste 948 Lumberton, TX 77657 (409) 755-3632 7

Another BB voucher. This place has an interesting back story. It started out as a donut place that added a burger. The burgers got so popular that the donuts went away. They still make the buns from scratch. They off old school style burgers, the kind that drips with flavor. Hand formed meat patties – Dippity’s beef is ground fresh daily! and has some of the best homemade onion rings you have ever tasted. I certainly liked the onion rings. Thick cut and flour coated my favorite. You do get a large order.
I got a double meat burger add cheese and bacon. It proved delicious. Not that impressed with the bun. It was certainly fresh but it need to be more substantial. It just sort of fell apart.
Cut in half. It was good enough I will go back and get the Texas Tummy Tingler.

The Brisket House 5775 Woodway - Houston,TX 77057 281-888-0331

Surprisingly this place occupies a slot in an upscale strip mall and does its smoking in a modern enclosed pit. The Houston Post reviewer recommended this place and I followed her lead and got a three meat BBQ PLATE of fatty Brisket, Pork Ribs, and Chicken with Cole Slaw and Baked Potato Salad. All the meats had wonderful smoke flavor with all being moist. The brisket literally melted in my mouth it was so tender. It packed great flavor also. The ribs were not quite fall of the bone but very tender and very smoky with a great rub. The chicken was the pleasant surprise because it tends to dry out and the skin get rubbery at some places. This was moist and tender with slightly crispy skin. The side were so-so. The baked potato salad was not any better than a standard one and the cole slaw was too watery. However I liked the fact that the sauce was not put on the meat and came in a syrup dispenser. It was a spicy vinegar based sauce that I did use eventfully as the it cut the richness of the meat. Would definitely return here

Crawdaddy's Kitchen 9370 Mansfield Rd. Shreveport LA, 71118 (318) 688-7532

Recently went to Shreveport with some goupons in my hand. I could not pass this one up as I like to check out places that claim to do Cajun food. Most times I am disappointed but this place was the real deal. I go their CRAWFISH SUPREME. A serving of Crawfish Cornbread topped with a generous portion of Crawfish Etouffee. The etouffee was about authentic as you could get. Smothered crawfish is the trinity with a light roux and full of flavor with just the right note of spice. The cornbread under it was great also. Full of crawfish and onions and moist and cornbready. I would get again in a heartbeat
Not so on the ONION RINGS which was a pre-fab with breading which I hate
MOMMA'S CARROT CAKE was good but I doubt that momma made it.
All in all a good experience

Crawdaddy's Kitchen

Burger Palace 2800 Sage Road #1100 Houston, TX 77056 (713) 877-9700

This is a Mango shake made with real mango they say. It had a pronounced mango flavor if a bit sweet. I need water to cut the sweet.
I got the Texas Cheeseburger which had Cheddar Cheese, Jalapeno, Caramelized Onion, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Spicy Mustard & Garlic Aioli on a fairly standard bun. The patty was American Kobe or Wagyu.
Here it is opened up and denuded of lettuce and some of the jalapeno. I have found I do not like lettuce on my burger and I am not a chile head but I like some heat. The patty was moist and tender and had lots of beef flavor. The bacon and cheese went well with it. All in all a good burger
Below is an Austrian Dog with a side of Tomato Sauce with Crispy Onions and Spicy Mustard. It was a large dog made with Wagyu. It was not to my taste and until recently I could not figure out way as I love hot dogs. The bottom line is that it is too big and the ration of the bread and meat is off. If offered it as just a sausage I would probably like it. If you want to taste the beef that becomes Kobe in Japan this is the place. They have a wide range of burgers.

American Sector

The American Sector
945 Magazine Street
New Orleans LA

Dinner 5 PM - 10 AM

This John Besh operation connects to the WW II Museum in New Orleans. The name really refers to the section of New Orleans settled by the people of the United States after the Louisiana Territory was bought. The food here is mainly a riff on the food eaten at home during WWII rationing. It also includes some up scaled items of New Orleans area country cooking that Chef Besh grew up on. Catch his new cooking show on PBS on Saturday at 2 PM.

First up was Shrimp Okra gumbo. It is like my mother okra gumbo except with a darker roux. I love the flavor that a dark roux gives (smoky) a dish. This preparation was no different. Instead of bread you get a half pint mason jar of in house pickles. It is what is called a half pickle that had dill and spicy kick. The vinegar had such a kick I used in the last of my gumbo to kick it up. Then I got Rabbit Pate. It came out in a tin reminiscent of a sardine can with celery root slaw on the side and crackers wrapped brown paper. Pate was excellent and the slaw made a nice foil to cut the unctuousness of it.

Next came a black eyed pea, fried head cheese, poached yard egg and micro greens salad. The peas made the base topped by the head cheese with the poached egg and greens on top. The yolk of the egg was the final component of the dressing adding richness to it. Do not be afraid of the head cheese as it contains no meat from the head just some pork meat in gelee. It was an elevation of a country dish that might be thrown together in a south Louisiana farm kitchen

I followed it with some more up ticked country fare. Pork cheeks, cornbread and braised black eyed peas. I rarely come to New Orleans these days and for the past couple of years have seen pork cheeks on the menus of establishments I admire. I jumped on the chance to taste it. They had been braised tender and finished off by pan sautéing to give a nice crust, fork tender to say the least. It is brought to the table in a bowl with a piece of corn bread. The peas are in a tin can and then poured over the meat and cornbread. I nearly swooned. The tender and unctuous cheeks, sweet cornbread and perfect peas made a great combo. I also ordered a side of Jalapeño Cheddar Grits. Need I say more, creamy, cheesy, spicy and delicious.

For dessert I got the cupcake with bacon. I love the taste of salty smoky bacon with anything sweet. Seems like a natural match. I get that combo whenever I can. In this case it was a vanilla cupcake with sugar icing and a slice of caramelized bacon in it.

If you visit the museum, stop by for lunch. During the day they offer po boys, unusual sandwiches and in house hot dogs. I would certainly return as it offers a wide and varied range of items. As with all John Besh operations anything they can make in house or source locally is done.

American Sector


409 West Prien Lake Road
Lake Charles LA

Monday thru Saturday 11 AM to 9 PM $2 to $27
It seemed like forever for this outpost of Lafayette Zeus Café to open. I had never been to one but I know people who love it. One day as I was passing by I noticed it was open. I therefore contacted my group and set up a time. My sister, our baking friend, our enthusiastic friend and our internet friend joined together for a late lunch. Our baking friend got an Appetizer Sampler which included hummus, baba ganoush, feta cheese, a meat grape leaf, a vegetarian grape leaf and mujadarah. My sister and our enthusiastic friend went with a version of the Lunch Vegetarian plate with spinach pies, Grecian dip, rice pilaf, feta salad and hummus. Our internet friend ordered the Lunch Fish which was a pan sautéed tilapia fillet sitting in a lake of mushroom cream sauce. I also ordered the Sampler and a few other items to do a Meze. I expected small plates to come out which I would pass around. What I got after a long wait was a platter of cold items. They included meat pies, spinach pies, kubbies, fried eggplant, and meat grape leafs with Grecian dip. The comments around table indicated the food was good but not great. The one exception was the fish with the marvelous sauce. I found out later that they had only been open two days. Taking that in account I would think such kinks are being worked out

In for lunch a week later I ran into my particular friend and his artistic wife. They were at the bar as the restaurant was full and I joined them there. They were well into their beef kabob and lamb kabob and had nothing but good things to say about them. I ordered the Lunch Fish as it had looked so good before. It did not disappoint. A perfectly cooked fish appeared. It had soaked up the fantastic flavors of the mushroom cream sauce. There was enough sauce to coat the rice that came with it and the salad was good also. It made for a nice filling meal

Next round I ordered Manakish Zatar. The grilled pita bread came out seasoned with Zatar and chopped fresh bell pepper. It proved a delight. The salad topped with feta crumbles and tossed in an oregano spiked dressing proved a delight also. The main entrée Vegetarian Eggplant Royale however was a disappointment. Under the lovely layer of mushroom cream sauce I encountered a layer of stringy cheese that made it hard to get a bite. That hid a mixture of mushroom, peas and carrots. The same frozen peas and carrots used in the pilaf. They lay in a pool of oil in the hollowed out eggplant. By the way there was no eggplant in the stuffing. The only thing that saved it for me was the cream sauce. I hope this was just an off night for the kitchen

Not wanting to finish on a sour note I went for one more meal and kept it simple. I got the Vegetarian Moussaka which satisfied my eggplant craving. A little different in that it had more of a brown sauce than a red sauce but it was delicious, I then opted for the Mixed Grill choosing Chicken Schwarma and Kefta Kabob as my meats. You also get a skewer of vegetables over rice. The chicken was moist and flavorful with those mid east spices. The grilled vegetables add more flavor. Kefta is ground meat seasoned and formed around a flat skewer then cooked. Think of it as a long hamburger patty, also a winner. I forsook the rice for pita bread making variations of the ingredients into sandwiches. I feel that the glitches I encounter here will be worked, just be patient. I now have another place to get my Middle Eastern coffee. Hooray



Jo’s Creole Creations
2502 Broad St
Lake Charles LA

Monday thru Sunday 6 AM to 9 PM $1 to $13

This truck stop venue has been through several name changes although it always seemed to have Creole in the mix. I waited a few months to make sure that this one would stick. The ones before it promoted New Orleans. The latest I found out was a home grown Creole lady retired from her job of 30 years and an empty nester. She then set out to do what she had dreamed off, having her own restaurant.

The first round was less than auspicious. It was a plate lunch with a so-so protein. The sides were some great black-eyed peas, mashed potatoes, and greens with a cornbread muffin. I discovered later that this particular item caused other problems and the vendor was changed to get a reliable product.

The second round was better. I got a Mark Special Burger. It consisted of a jumbo patty, bacon, American cheese, and a fried egg. I have always liked fried eggs on my burgers and will get one if I run across it. This one came with a griddle bun, mayonnaise, a thick juicy patty, melted cheese and bacon strips. They top it with an over easy egg. The breaking yolk makes a wonderful sauce for the burger and quite a mess. It is one I am willing to deal with. The onion rings were of the breaded variety. Next time I got a sandwich that I have been seeking for awhile. The New Orleans Hot Sausage Po Boy is made with sausage patties made by Patton out of New Orleans. They look like breakfast sausages but have different flavor profile with a red pepper flake kick. Laid out on a bun with mayonnaise and melted American cheese they proved very good and I enjoyed every bite

For breakfast one I went down memory lane. My mother made what she called “egg rice” with leftover rice. The item on the menu here called Breakfast Rice is very similar to it. I got it with bacon. It is basically rice sautéed in a little grease and then an egg scrambled into it. It is very simple but delicious and for me nostalgic.

The last time in she proved her Creole chops. I received an excellent shrimp stew (full of flavor in a brown sauce), fantastic Mac n Cheese and again great black-eyed peas along with a corn muffin. This combo screamed with flavor and had that Creole flair. That day they had bread pudding for dessert. It was full of pineapple and raisins. I prefer a plain Jane type but it was decent.

I totally recommend this venue. It is on my way home and it takes every ounce of will power not to pull in every day. However I have other venues to test and cannot do this.