Grab your tickets for The Taste benefiting the Mary Bird Perkins Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center

Check out all of Jay Ducote's products at the online store with free shipping on orders over $50!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Louisiana Culinary Trails: Capital Cravings

Rolling cameras on Iverstine Family Farms with Galen Iverstine,  Jay Ducote, Fred Mince, and Dan Jones
Rolling cameras on Iverstine Family Farms with Galen Iverstine,
Jay Ducote, Fred Mince, and Dan Jones



The Louisiana Culinary Trails crew had more of a home-field advantage for the filming of the fourth video in the series. We took a trip to Kentwood to talk to local, first generation farmer, Galen Iverstine, about the bustling Red Stick Farmer's Market. Chef Jeremy Langlois shed some light on his farm-to-table practices at Houma's House Plantation and local food enthusiast Julie Laperouse and myself give a little commentary on the current Baton Rouge food and beverage scene. The Capital Cravings video would not have been complete without a trip to Tony's Seafood and to talk to Bill Pizzolato about their incredible Gulf seafood selection and those amazing boudin balls!















Fred Mince climbing counter tops while Jordan Lewis and Dan Jones grab some shots of Chef Jeremy Langlois in the kitchen
Fred Mince climbing counter tops while Jordan Lewis and Dan Jones grab some shots of Chef Jeremy Langlois in the kitchen

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Penny Packer Bourbon: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Lock & Key

Penny Packer Bourbon
Penny Packer Bourbon
Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by the Lock & Key Whiskey Bar returns to a review this week with the Penny Packer Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey ($6 a pour at Lock & Key). The nose is light and sweet with some grassy notes and a faint hint of oak. On the tongue the grass remains, possibly turning into a wet hay flavor with bland grains. That may not sound all that appealing, but in reality this is a very drinkable bourbon and is an affordable whiskey to serve as a solid backup to any nicer whiskey you may normally keep on your shelf. The flavors are fairly muted and crazy light, but the bourbon finishes quickly with a warming quality. It is simple but tasty... nothing that wow the taste buds but nothing that will upset them either. In all reality this bourbon is a great value. It may not be your go-to sipping whiskey, but if you are mixing it in cocktail it will do just fine.

Penny Packer Bourbon
Average Score: 63.0


Whisk(e)y Wednesday is a blog post series on Bite and Booze sponsored by the Lock & Key Whiskey Bar. Lock & Key has one of Baton Rouge's best selections of bourbon, Scotch, Irish, and other whisk(e)ys available for on premise consumption. This WW feature was scored by Jay Ducote from Bite and Booze, Arthur Lauck from Lock & Key, Jeremy Spikes from Old Maul, and Natalie Parbhoo from International Wine and Spirits. Scores are marked for Nose, Taste, Finish, and Balance and Complexity using our own proprietary scoring system. Marks are then added and averaged, leaving us with a final score out of a 100 point scale. Our scale should be looked at on the full range of 0-100 rather than an academic range where 70 is passing and anything less is failing. A 50 should be considered a very mediocre whisk(e)y (though not undrinkable) while anything below 20 is absolute horse piss and anything above 80 is rather extraordinary and anything above 90 is world class.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Barbecue Bites: Jay D's Barbecue Chicken Egg Rolls

Jay D's Barbecue Chicken Egg Rolls
Jay D's Barbecue Chicken Egg Rolls





Egg rolls are a great bar food snack. I like to make these Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue chicken egg rolls when I have a bunch of friends over because they're easy to make and easy to hold when you have a beer in the other hand!


Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Chicken Egg Rolls

Makes 12 egg rolls

3 cups green cabbage, julienned
2 cups red cabbage, julienned
3 cups chicken, chopped
3 scallions
1 large carrot, julienned
1/2 onion julienned
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce
1 Tbsp. olive oil
12 Eggroll wrappers
1 tsp. mirin
1 tsp. sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and Pepper to taste
Oil for frying

Preheat frying oil to 350 degrees F. Heat saute pan with olive oil and saute vegetables with mirin, sugar, salt, and pepper until soft. Remove and set aside to cool. Heat chicken in saute pan with barbecue sauce and simmer until thick. Remove and set aside to cool. Fill eggroll wrappers with 1 Tbsp. sauteed vegetables and 1 Tbsp. of chicken. Use the egg to seal the wrap. Fry until golden brown. Serve with Jay D's Asian Barbecue Sauce!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Natalie Parbhoo: The Duchess of Distribution

The journey booze takes to from conceptualization to the drink in your hand is a long one which involves multiple several characters. From brewery, winery, and distillery owners to distributors, retailers and service industry members, there are females all over the state of Louisiana dedicating their passion and hard work to make sure our beverages can live up to our cuisine. Check back with us every month to see which lady we're spotlighting next on this new women in booze series on Bite and Booze!

Natalie Parbhoo
Natalie Parbhoo with her hands full at The Cove
Natalie Parbhoo has been working for International Wine & Spirits for eight years now. After working in restaurants ranging from Semolina's to Fleming's, her love for booze and its variety of flavors has grown over time. It wasn't until she attended a tasting with some service industry ladies at Slinky's 8 years ago that she realized that infusing craft beer, fine wines, and quality spirits into the restaurants of Baton Rouge could be pursued professionally. The distribution world can be tough for females. Parbhoo said that it takes time and persistence to be taken seriously in a field that's almost 80% male. "First getting into it, the woman I replaced was only the second female representative in the city, so people just didn't take me seriously. They wasted a lot of my time flirting with me and never bought anything. That's when I realized I needed to be super aggressive to sell." Parbhoo went on to explain that a lot of men in the industry would comment on a female's looks to gauge whether or not she would be able to make it in a job like this. Hearing that as a woman or not being taken seriously in my profession, "is intimidating," Parbhoo says, "but, it gave me more of a drive. I had to build up that trust and prove to them that I was serious." Parbhoo now manages over 75 accounts in the Greater Baton Rouge market representing a portfolio rich in craft beer (over 700), wine (over 600), and artisinal spirits (over 400). Her expertise in the alcohol world is intimidating to any novice that may try to test her knowledge, but with a warm smile Natalie will gladly share her passion with anyone at the bar.

As we were talking about picture ideas, a man sitting next to us suggested she lay on the bar, which was the perfect end to our talk about what it's like to be a woman forging through the alcohol industry. Eight years later, Parbhoo still loves her job and the different products she represents. She's keeping Baton Rouge fresh one drink at a time.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Louisiana Culinary Trails: Prairie Home Cooking

Kermit Lejeune talks to Jay Ducote as Fred Mince, Dan Jones, Jordan Lewis, and Blair Loup produce
Kermit Lejeune talks to Jay Ducote as Fred Mince, Dan Jones, Jordan Lewis, and Blair Loup produce

Blair Loup helps feed the baby goats before we get back on the road
Blair Loup helps feed the baby goats before we get back on the road





Filming the Prairie Home Cooking trail brought us away from New Orleans and the Northshore and to the more rural central part of Louisiana. Life slows down a little here but the food culture doesn't. Much of Louisiana's famous smoked sausages and other meats come from this part of the state. We visited smokehouses, slaughterhouses, and people's houses to capture the spirit of Prairie Home Cooking. We paid a visit to Chefs Cody and Sam Carroll at Hot Tails, Kermit Lejeune at Lejeune's Sausage Kitchen, Andy Fontenot and Willie Burson from the Eunice Superette, Marguerite Constantine from WesMar Farms, and Karlos Knott from Bayou Teche Brewing.







Jordan Lewis, Fred Mince, Dan Jones, Jay Ducote, and Katie hope producing a great interview at the Eunice Superette
Jordan Lewis, Fred Mince, Dan Jones, Jay Ducote, and Katie hope producing a great interview at the Eunice Superette


Jay Ducote checks out cheese curds at Wes Mar Farms
Jay Ducote checks out cheese curds at Wes Mar Farms


Dan Jones in the smokehouse at Lejeune's Sausage Kitchen
Dan Jones in the smokehouse at Lejeune's Sausage Kitchen


Kermit Lejeune and his faithful companion check the smokehouse at Lejeune's
Kermit Lejeune and his faithful companion check the smokehouse at Lejeune's


Chef Sam Carroll of Hot Tails in New Roads talking about Prairie Home Cooking for Louisiana Culinary Trails
Chef Sam Carroll of Hot Tails in New Roads talking about Prairie Home Cooking for Louisiana Culinary Trails


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

To Decant... or Nah: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Lock & Key

There seems to be a rift in the whiskey world about whether or not to use a decanter. So this week, Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Lock & Key Whiskey Bar will explore just that. In the world of grapes, the taste of a wine can improve dramatically when it is decanted, but does the same apply to the taste of a whiskey? The answer is no. Whiskey decanters got their start back when whiskey only came in barrels. Similar to bringing a growler to fill with a special craft brew, you would bring your jugs to the local general store and fill 'er up with hooch. Decanters were used for easier pouring over thick, heavy clay jugs, and they provide, to this day, a more refined aesthetic. Flash forward a couple hundred years and the whiskey decanter's current use is purely for looking good and possibly for hiding the brand of your booze. Whiskey Decanter Co. recently sent me a couple of their premiere decanters, both beautiful but both very different. I'm excited to have them sitting on my shelves for years to come!

The Lexington
The Lexington






The Lexington is hand-made with mouth-blown accents. Squared off with a hefty bottom weight to it, the Lexington has an outward beveled spout. It is an ideal gift for any man in your life because of its more masculine shape and heft, but by all means the ladies can enjoy a pour from it too!



The Fusion Derby
The Fusion Derby














The Fusion Derby is slightly more feminine. It has a rounded bell shape and the topper fits a more securely than that of the Lexington. The glass is thin and extremely light so it is also easier to pour whiskey from it. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Barbecue Bites: Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Meatballs

Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Meatballs
Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Meatballs

Meatballs are the successful party's unsung hero. The bold and complex flavors of Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce united with the fresh, local grass-fed ground beef from Indie Plate and the zesty notes of Red Stick Spice Company's Burger Blend will rock these party meatballs like you wouldn't believe.

Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Meatballs

Makes 2 to 3 dozen, 1 inch meatballs

1 lb. lean ground beef
9 oz. apricot pepper jelly
12 oz. Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 large onion, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. Baton Rouge Burger Blend (Red Stick Spice Co.)

Preheat oven to 350F.
Saute onion with olive oil in a small saute pan and set aside to cool. Mix ground beef, egg, onion, and Burger Blend spice and form 1 inch meatballs on sheetpan. Bake for 10 minutes or until meatballs are slightly browned. Mix together barbecue sauce and pepper jelly in a saucepan and begin to simmer. Add meatballs to sauce and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Louisiana Culinary Trails: Northshore Sampler

Jay Ducote and Chef John Besh at La Provence
Jay Ducote and Chef John Besh at La Provence




The Louisiana Culinary Trails crew moved from New Orleans to Louisiana's Northshore in order to film our second video in the series. We crossed Lake Pontchartrain to shoot in Mandeville, Covington, and Slidell. We also ran into Chef John Besh at La Provence where he gave us a great interview to start the entire series, then cooked for us in the kitchen. We filmed some amazing seafood while on the Northshore and had interviews with Vanessa Gomes of Champagne Beverage, Tom Gregory from Go Coast: Louisiana, Chef Louie Finnan from Louie & the Redhead Lady, Vinnie LeDonne from Palmetto's on the Bayou, and Chef Erick Loos from La Provence. All in all, the Northshore really impressed and is definitely worthy of a visit!





Dan Jones films Chef John Besh creating one of his signature dishes
Dan Jones films Chef John Besh creating one of his signature dishes


Vanessa Gomes discusses food on the Northshore as Jay Ducote, Dan Jones, Jordan Lewis, and Fred Mince produce
Vanessa Gomes discusses food on the Northshore as Jay Ducote, Dan Jones, Jordan Lewis, and Fred Mince produce

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Orca Beans, High West Whiskey, and Fried Chicken + Giveaway: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Lock & Key

High West Whiskey and Bob's Red Mill Orca Beans
Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by the Lock & Key Whiskey Bar takes a different turn this week with a little cooking challenge from Bob's Red Mill. They sent me some heritage beans called Orca and I thought there would be no better way to add smoke to them than the Campfire Whiskey from High West Distilling. The orca beans get their name from the black and white coloring similar to a killer whale. After soaking the beans over night I sauteed some red onion and garlic in olive oil then added my soaked beans and the soaking liquid. After simmering for half an hour, I threw in some Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning and a few splashes of High West Whiskey. I let the beans simmer for another hour, adding a little water along the way, until they were tender but not mushy. Served alongside some fried chicken, these orca beans hit the spot! 

Here's some news even greater than my meal, though! Bob's Red Mill is offering up a bag of beans and a $30 gift card to purchase whatever you'd like from their site. Enter the giveaway below through Rafflecopter and you could win the prize! One winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the winner will be notified and displayed here on 11/20!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fried Chicken alongside Whiskey Orca Beans

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Barbecue Bites: Jay D's Sloppy Joes

Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sloppy Joes
Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sloppy Joes

Sloppy joe, slop-sloppy joe, yeah! My Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce makes the boldest sloppy joe around! This isn't the average joe of sloppy joes, we hit a dinger with these! Check it out:



Jay D's Barbecue Sloppy Joes

Makes 4 servings

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp. Baton Rouge Burger Blend (Red Stick Spice Co.)
1 cup Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce
2 T olive oil
2/3 cup water

Brown beef in saute pan with burger blend spice and 1 Tbsp. of olive oil. Remove from pan and set aside. Add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil into pan and saute vegetables until soft. Add beef back to pan with vegetables, add barbecue sauce and water and simmer for 20 minutes or until all liquid has reduced.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sojourn in NOLA: A Tasting Menu Pop-Up

A couple weeks ago, Chef Jeff Williams with the New Orleans based pop-up Sojourn, invited me to attend his first dinner. Intrigued, I agreed to go and brought my Chief Confusion Coordinator, Blair Loup, along for the ride. Speculations about our impending dining experience weaseled their way into the business strategy talks and pop culture debates that are the typical Jay and Blair conversations. While we were optimistic about the menu, what the 21 year old Massachusetts native who came to New Orleans via Indiana presented wound up being one of the most inspired meals I've eaten this year.

Sojourn plans to occupy kitchens in small spaces like The Tasting Room, a cozy wine bar on Magazine St., where our dinner was held. The concept is to present a variable tasting menu on a weekly basis to 10-12 guests. Sojourn pops up, creates a magical meal, and then they are gone, updating you via social media as to when and where the next dinner might be. After the dishes I enjoyed during Chef Jeff's first dinner, I hope Sojourn stays around for a while.

Radish, Tarragon, Oyster
Radish, Tarragon, Oyster

The first dish represented a bold and interesting plate of raw radishes surrounding a tarragon and oyster emulsion. The radish is mild in flavor, but very crisp in texture, which paired well with the velvety tarragon puree. 

Pig Ear, Arugula, Herbs, Horseradish
Pig Ear, Arugula, Herbs, Horseradish

The second course has ruined every other salad for me. I think I could eat it everyday. Coming from somebody like me, that's a huge statement. The horseradish vinaigrette added just enough kick to the peppery arugula to make a savory salad come to life. The fresh baby carrots added a playfully delightful component and I'm not sure that I can use anything other than salty, crispy pig ear instead of croutons in a salad ever again. This was truly a remarkable dish.

Chicken Skin, Andouille
Chicken Skin, Andouille

Thin chicken skins with andouille spice gave us a nice salty crisp before the soup course. The plating throughout the dinner was on point. The chicken skins were served on sealed slices of wood that Jeff made from a fallen tree limb.

Celeriac, Stems
Celeriac, Stems

The soup only worked if you can appreciate celery, so fortunately growing up in Louisiana where celery replaces the carrot in the Holy Trinity of Cajun Cooking, I didn't mind. A strong flavor of celery cut with a slight creaminess made for an earthy, cozy soup.

Cracker, Brown Butter
Cracker, Brown Butter

Another snack plated on pieces of a fallen tree limb, this stump held a homemade cracker with a hand-churned brown butter. Simple, sure, but also really well executed and a great bite between the other courses.

Grains, Smoked Yolk, Scallion
Grains, Smoked Yolk, Scallion

Blair's favorite dish smelled like coffee and smoke upon arrival. Dehydrated corn puff-esque morsels adorned with a smoked egg yolk crowned a bed of other grains. The smokiness of the yolk made it smell heartier than I expected a grain-focused dish to be. It's important in dinners like these to not fill up too quickly, so I appreciated the lightness of the menu items up to this point.

Purple Potato, Dill, Fennel
Purple Potato, Dill, Fennel

A warm, crushed purple potato wading in dill oil came out to the table next. Once again Sojourn showed that simplicity can be as delicious as complexity. Sometimes letting ingredients speak for themselves truly allows them to shine.

Butter, Bread
Butter, Bread

While we waited for the next course, Chef Jeff brought out some sliced bread with a hand-churned, cultured butter. Thick in consistency, the fresh butter had a hint of bleu cheese in flavor.

Butter, Bread
Pork Belly, Fennel, Rutabaga

I haven't met any pork belly I didn't like. The slow-cooked meat and rendered fat creates a flavorful and punch of pig that nobody can resist. Beautifully plated with charred fennel and rutabaga puree, the fork-tender pork belly gave us a nice savory lead into dessert.

Apple, Honeydew, Yogurt
Apple, Honeydew, Yogurt

An icy green apple granita sprinkled atop a dollop of homemade yogurt accentuated by medallions of honeydew melon put it's tart foot forward. The ensemble of flavors gracefully walked that fine line between tart and puckering so well that I couldn't stop eating until every drop danced on my taste buds.

French Butter Pastry
French Butter Pastry

Chef Jeff Williams doesn't consider himself much of a pastry chef, but these warm, buttery French pastries were downright delectable. I look forward to seeing what dishes he puts on his next menu. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook to catch the next Sojourn journey.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Louisiana Culinary Trails: Creole Crescent



Chef Matt Murphy and Jay Ducote share a laugh with a microphone
Chef Matt Murphy and Jay Ducote share a laugh with a microphone




The Louisiana Culinary Trails video series kicks off in New Orleans with the Creole Crescent Trail. The Big Easy boasts one of the premier culinary scenes in the country, and I really can't imagine a better place to film food. Along the way through New Orleans we interviewed Chef Matt Murphy at The Irish House, Chef Michael Gullota at MoPho, Louisiana Cookin' Magazine editor Daniel Schumacher, Wendy Waren from the Louisiana Restaurant Association, and Chris Hannah at Arnaud' French 75 Bar. We also got to experience some of the best food and cocktails that the Crescent City has to offer. I hope you enjoy watching this video as much as I enjoyed producing it with tommysTV. If it doesn't leave you wanting a poboy in your taste buds, something is wrong with you!




Jordan Lewis, Fred Mince, and Dan Jones prep gear to film at Joey K's
Jordan Lewis, Fred Mince, and Dan Jones prep gear to film at Joey K's

Daniel Shumacher, Jay Ducote, and Michael Gulotta smile after filming at MoPho
Daniel Shumacher, Jay Ducote, and Michael Gulotta smile after filming at MoPho

Chris Hannah makes cocktails for Dan Jones's camera at Arnaud's French 75
Chris Hannah makes cocktails for Dan Jones's camera at Arnaud's French 75

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Talisker Distillers Edition: Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Lock & Key

Talisker Distillers Edition
A good Scotch makes me happy. Alright, any good whiskey or whisky makes me pretty happy. But seriously, when I get a taste of an amazing single malt, I can't help but smile. Talisker Distillers Edition ($19 at Lock & Key Whiskey Bar) is one of those whiskies. This particular Scotch was distilled in 2002 and bottled in 2013 after being finished in Amoroso Sherry Casks. Sea salt and "Grand Isle" smoky aromas warm the nostrils at first whiff. The salt brine of a spirit continues on to coat the tongue with the smoke of a campfire and fine cigar blended together. Smoked grains come through in the flavor profile and the whisky leaves with a soft warmth. It is extremely balanced and complex at the same time, making it a fantastic whisky to sip at any time. Interestingly enough, even with a few different judges and not looking back on the score, we rated the Distillers Edition the exact same as the Talisker 10 Year back in 2012. That also means it scored well enough to be in the top 10 of 100s of whiskies that we've judged for Whisk(e)y Wednesday. Do yourself a favor and try it!


Talisker Distillers Edition
Average Score: 84.75


Whisk(e)y Wednesday is a blog post series on Bite and Booze sponsored by the Lock & Key Whiskey Bar. Lock & Key has one of Baton Rouge's best selections of bourbon, Scotch, Irish, and other whisk(e)ys available for on premise consumption. This WW feature was scored by Jay Ducote from Bite and Booze, Arthur Lauck from Lock & Key, Jeremy Spikes from Old Maul, and Natalie Parbhoo from International Wine and Spirits. Scores are marked for Nose, Taste, Finish, and Balance and Complexity using our own proprietary scoring system. Marks are then added and averaged, leaving us with a final score out of a 100 point scale. Our scale should be looked at on the full range of 0-100 rather than an academic range where 70 is passing and anything less is failing. A 50 should be considered a very mediocre whisk(e)y (though not undrinkable) while anything below 20 is absolute horse piss and anything above 80 is rather extraordinary and anything above 90 is world class.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Barbecue Bites: Jay D's Chicken Pizza

Jay D's Barbecue Chicken Pizza
Jay D's Barbecue Chicken Pizza
Whether it's quesadillas, nachos, egg rolls, or pizza: put barbecue chicken with Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce on it. It's an easy way to impress your friends with scrumptious snackage. A scene from Portlandia staring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein comes to mind:





Jay D's Barbecue Chicken Pizza

Makes 2 servings

1 store bought pizza crust
5 oz. Jay D's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce
1 ½ cup cooked chicken, shredded
1 ½ cups Monterey Jack Cheese
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sliced green onion for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Roll out the pizza dough and place on a pizza pan or large baking sheet. Spread the barbecue sauce all over crust. Toss chicken with 2 oz. barbecue sauce. Top with chicken, cheese, and red onion. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts and the crust is golden. Garnish with sliced green onions.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Pho-Get About It: 7 spots to eat Pho in Baton Rouge

Pho (pronounced fuh) is a beautiful thing. There's something magical about it. Of all the wonderful qualities to love about this Vietnamese classic, its simplicity is what I respect the most. A broth based soup accentuated with sweet Thai basil, earthy bean sprouts, a spritz of lime, and the delectable fruit of a fresh jalapeño, pho is the meat and potatoes of Vietnamese cuisine. I fed my pho craving quite a few times to bring you what I believe are the best places to get a bowl of pho in Baton Rouge. Here's the list of seven places to grab a bowl, ranked lowest to highest:


7. Dream Berrie Café: 3851 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd.

Dream Berrie is extremely popular. It may be because of the funky, bright interior or the fact that you can fill up on Vietnamese cuisine and get frozen yogurt all under one roof. I certainly indulged in a heaping cup of fro-yo after my spicy bowl of pho. While I enjoyed Dream Berrie, I give it the lowest ranking because the flavor left a lot to be desired. After adding copious amounts of basil, fresh jalapeños and chili oil, I took it down. The truth of the matter is, each bowl of pho should be delicious on it's own before you put your personal spin on it.

Dream Berrie Café's Pho Tai Chin: Rare Eye Round & Well Done Brisket $7.99
Dream Berrie Café's Pho Tai Chin: Rare Eye Round & Well Done Brisket $7.99


6. Viet Garden: 11990 Florida Blvd.

Viet Garden is a fairly large space (in comparison to other Vietnamese restaurants in Baton Rouge) and had quite a few diners, which is always a good sign. The broth packed more flavor than Dream Berrie, and I liked the plethora of protein choices.

Viet Garden's Pho Dac Biet: Eye Round Steak, Well-Done Flank, Fat Brisket, Soft Tendon, & Meatballs $7.99
Viet Garden's Pho Dac Biet: Eye Round Steak, Well-Done Flank, Fat Brisket, Soft Tendon, & Meatballs $7.99


5. Drunken Fish: 4410 Highland Rd.

It's nice to have a place to get pho so close to...anything. Baton Rouge has superb ethnic food, but most of it lives out on Florida Boulevard near Sherwood Forest. While the parking lot for Drunken Fish may be a nightmare at times, it's definitely closer to the city center. Tasty, convenient location, sold.

Drunken Fish's Eye Round Pho $8
Drunken Fish's Eye Round Pho $8


4. Little Saigon: 11224 Florida Blvd.

Little Saigon has a menu similar to most Vietnamese restaurants with choices ranging from spring rolls and stir fry to Vermicelli and Banh Mi. The atmosphere lacks much of an identity, but it presents a clean black and white feel with seemingly new tables and chairs. The pho itself is quite onion-y and salty compared to many others, though delightful in its own right. After slurping down a few noodles I decided to doctor it up with a little chili oil, basil, and jalapeño. It's solid, but if I'm in that area, I'm going to one of the next few on the list.

Little Saigon's Combination Pho: Beef Eye Round, Brisket, and Beef Meatball $8.95
Little Saigon's Combination Pho: Beef Eye Round, Brisket, and Beef Meatball $8.95



3. Sa Dec: 1124 Marque Anne Dr.

A hidden gem located right off of Florida Blvd., Sa Dec is a no frills, authentic Vietnamese shop. A menu that only spans the length of two pages offers up steamed bun dishes, a few pho combinations, and very little else. You can get a pretty decent bowl of pho here, but be warned that they only accept cash

Sa Dec's Pho Tai Bo Vien: Rare Beef & Beef Ball Noodle Soup $8
Sa Dec's Pho Tai Bo Vien: Rare Beef & Beef Ball Noodle Soup $8


2. Saigon Noodles: 1295 N. Sherwood Forest Blvd.

Not to be confused with Little Saigon around the corner, Saigon Noodles boasts a more sophisticated interior. Unlike most "hole in the wall" ethic eateries in Baton Rouge, Saigon feels, in the words of the unadventurous, "safe." They play coffee shop covers of popular pop songs, but make no mistake, their food is legitimate. The Autumn Rolls were a fresh beginning, and the pho did not disappoint. Saigon Noodles had an array of protein combinations to choose from. I chose to try something I didn't find at any of the other Vietnamese restaurants in town: oxtail. Tender and slightly fatty with porous bones, ox tail brings something special to a bowl of pho.

Saigon Noodles' PO26: Beef Ox Tail, Thinly Sliced Eye Round Steak,  Well Done Beef Flank, Beef Meat Ball and Beef Tendon $9.75
Saigon Noodles' PO26: Beef Ox Tail, Thinly Sliced Eye Round Steak,
Well Done Beef Flank, Beef Meat Ball and Beef Tendon $9.75


1. Dang's Vietnamese Restaurant: 12385 Florida Blvd.

My Chief Confusion Coordinator, Blair, used to be a Saigon Noodles loyalist. She had one sip of the pho at Dang's and has been converted. We started out with some roasted duck drizzled lightly with hoisin sauce accompanied by fluffy, pillow-like steam buns. From there I ordered the combination pho, and Blair decided to try their special that day, chicken curry. While not traditionally Vietnamese, this lemon grassy curry with flares of coconut milk essentially came as a pho-sized bowl of chicken curry with noodles. The pho at Dang's is bursting with flavor on a level far above the rest. It needed no accouterments to bring on the rich flavor that every broth strives for. While the restaurant itself might not be anything special, the cuisine at Dang's exemplifies the amazing food that the Red Stick has to offer.

Dang's Dac Biet: Eye Round Steak, Brisket, Tendon, Tripe, and Meatballs $8.25
Dang's Dac Biet: Eye Round Steak, Brisket, Tendon, Tripe, and Meatballs $8.25