Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Culinary Adventure on Government Street Part II: Opie's Cajun Cafe

Eusebio and I continued our culinary adventure on Wednesday by moving down Government Street from Bistro Byronz to Opie's Cajun Cafe.  Opie's creates two more food dishes that I was told I needed to try, so we wanted to make sure we ordered those and whatever else looked good.  We walked into Opie's and loved the place at first glance.  The entrance to the restaurant is through the bar area which has a very classic, old school feel to it.  We sat down at the bar and waited for someone to greet us.  It wasn't long before we had three people, including the owner and his son, asking what they could do for us.  I ordered a glass of Maker's Mark bourbon with a splash of Diet Coke and Eusebio had some Jack Daniels whiskey with a splash of Sprite.  They made the drinks right for us (as in very strong) and we began looking over the extensive cajun menu.  Opie's is the kind of place where they leave the remote control for the TV on the bar for the customers to change the channel at will.  We put the main TV on the USA v. Costa Rica World Cup Qualifying match and were able to watch the USA tie the game off of a corner kick in stoppage time to secure first place in the CONCACAF qualifying efforts.  Geaux America!

One of the items that I was told I needed to try were the boudin balls.  I had only previously had boudin balls at Tony's Seafood and The Chimes, so I thought it was a great idea to branch out a little more.  We started with the appetizer sampler which contained boudin balls, blackened shrimp, and crawfish pies with a bit of remoulade sauce for dipping.  The boudin balls were way more similar to the balls at Tony's than The Chimes.  Their cylindrical shape and crispy exterior created a perfect casing for the warm, moist boudin in the middle.  The flavor and texture were great, but I could have gone or a little more spice.  Still, Opie's has a great boudin ball and a good alternative to the other ones in town if you are in the mid-city area.  The crawfish pies were filled with Opie's crawfish etouffee and were scrumptious.  The fluffy pie crust encased the rich and savory etouffee nicely as each bite was filled with flavor.  The blackened shrimp were a good addition to the sampler platter, especially when dipped in the remoulade sauce.  They were simple, well seasoned shrimp that were bite-sized, blackened deliciousness.


Opie's Sampler: Crawfish Pies, Blackened Shrimp, and Boudin Balls

Our next direction was to sample a couple of traditional Louisiana staples, jambalaya and gumbo.  The Opie's Cajun Trio entree came with a small bowl of each along with a couple more crawfish pies and a fresh dinner roll.  The jambalaya had a strong vegetable oil taste immediately when you put it in your mouth.  Once there was some time for the flavors to get around, the rice mixture had some good flavors and was as spicy as I wish the boudin balls were.  It was good, but not like Maw Maw makes it!  The chicken and sausage gumbo was really pleasing for a restaurant version.  All too often I find that restaurant gumbo just does not compare to what you can find at people's houses and tailgate parties but Opie's was an exception.  The gumbo was a little thick and heavy on the roux for my own personal preference but Eusebio mentioned that it was exactly how he likes it.  It is amazing how we always go back to our childhood memories of taste to decide what we like today.  My family's gumbo was typically a bit thinner with a liquid broth that was seasoned with the roux, so now that is how I like my gumbo.  Eusebio had clearly grown up eating a gumbo with that thicker, heavier roux, and so now prefers it that way.  Either way, Opie's gumbo had a great, well seasoned flavor with chunks of chicken and sausage throughout.


Opie's Cajun Trio: Jambalaya, Gumbo, and Crawfish Pies

The final dish that I was told I had to try at Opie's Cajun Cafe was the Crawfish Ravioli.  The pasta itself was stuffed with cheese and then topped with a creamy crawfish sauce.  It was a good dish but probably could have been better if the stuffing had some of the crawfish sauce mixed in with the cheese.  Just a thought.  Still, the ravioli was tasty and I really enjoyed the sauce with crawfish tails, and the dinner roll to sop up the extra sauce was clutch.


Crawfish Ravioli at Opie's Cajun Cafe

Much like Bistro Byronz from earlier in the evening, Opie's had a homemade bread pudding on the menu that we thought we should take home, eat, and then compare.  Their version was a dense, flavorful bread pudding that was topped with a Jack Daniels sauce that was loaded with the tang of the Tennessee whiskey.  While the pudding itself was good and the sauce was fantastic, I couldn't help but notice that the bread pudding was overpowered with the tastes of cinnamon and nutmeg to the point of taking away from the dessert but not so much that it was ruined.  I like cinnamon and nutmeg, but it was difficult to taste any of the other flavors with those two being so strong.

All in all it was a great culinary adventure on Government Street.  I really liked the laid back atmosphere at the bar at Opie's Cajun Cafe.  The food was delicious, and I'm sure I'll be back to see the family-run establishment again.

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