Monday, May 7, 2012

Cajun Cafe on the Bayou, Pinellas Park, FL

Somehow, I managed to drive by Cajun Cafe on the Bayou hundreds of times over the course of the 20 years I spent living on the Pinellas beaches without ever stopping in.  Set back from the highway and situated among tall grass next to a bona fide bayou, it almost throws off a "roadhouse" vibe which its dirt parking lot does little to alleviate (think Sam Merlotte's place on "True Blood").  Something about it always made me feel like a girl could wind up feeding the gators out back if she went in on the wrong night...and I mean that in the least fun way possible.  Just goes to show that you can't judge a book by its cover because whatever weird, preconceived notions I had could not have been further from reality. The interior is kitschy, quaint and welcomingly tranquil.  There's no loud Zydeco music (no loud music period), no pool tables, no TVs and cell phone use is politely discouraged (pinch me, I must be dreaming). The waterfront screened dining area provided a relaxing water view and a nice cross-breeze. 

UD and I met up with JR (fellow blogger and editor of the SOG City Oracle) and his lovely bride, The Belle of Ballast Point, for the second of many (I hope) gastronomic convergences.  Ever since planning this outing and perusing Cajun Cafe's online menu, I have had visions of Crawfish Cornbread dancing in my head.  I had high hopes to begin with and this shiznit seriously exceeded my expectations.  The golden brown cornbread was made with finely ground meal and was so moist that it almost had the consistency of a pudding cake.  Its sweet and tender texture was beautifully offset by the savory combo of corn kernels, chopped onions, jalapeno bits and mud bug morsels.  The starter portion was quite generous and allowed us all to sample a nice slab.

The boyz wanted to try the Boudin Balls...dense, golf ball-sized spheres of pork, pork liver, onions and rice which had been dipped in ale, rolled in cracker meal and deep fried.  Served with a remoulade sauce, I thought they were quite flavorful, albeit a bit heavy.  I opted not to squander too much precious stomach space on them.

The thinly sliced french fried onions were truly a thing of beauty.  Presented piping hot and enrobed in only a gossamer coating of spicy, seasoned flour, these babies are what the Bloomin' Onion aspires to be when it grows up. 

Entree time...yay!  Having spent the first 30 years of my life in Tennessee, I have to admit that (by law) I really love battered and fried foods. As the years have gone by, however, I have begun to appreciate a lighter hand with the breading.  My "Big Tail On" fried shrimp were about as a perfect a rendition as I've ever had.  Again, the crisp and well-spiced crusty veneer was razor thin, the shrimp were beyond "big", the grease factor was practically non-existent and CCB's rendition of dirty rice (seasoned with ground beef instead of livers and other organs, which was a slight disappointment to me but probably gives this version more mainstream appeal) was excellent.  Everything presented to us was hot and obviously prepared to order (two things I have a great appreciation for when dining out). 

BOBP, the landlubber in our midst, selected the Creole Roasted Pulled Pork which proved to be an excellent choice.  The pork was literally falling apart, just as God intended, and the Creole garlic sauce it was bathed in rawked. She ordered the fried veggies as a side, which were probably the least impressive offerings of the afternoon as far as I was concerned.  Mushy bits of broccoli, cauliflower and baby carrots were presented deep-fried in a not-so-crispy batter. Not bad, but not up to par with the rest of the fried stuff.

JR and UD went with two pounds of crawfish and spent the next hour feverishly ripping heads and sucking brains like Neanderthals, all the while washing everything down with copious slurps of frosty grog.  Lydia, do you hear grunting? 

Stuffed to the gills as we were, there was no way the gurlz wuz gonna pass on the Whiskey Bread Pudding, and thank gawd we let our hormones guide us like we did.  This was some stellar bread pudding.  Columbia Restaurant White Chocolate Bread Pudding, step down...I have a new favorite.  Imagine if a Cinnabon was soaked in custard, then baked until it was still moist on the inside but had chewy, caramelized edges.  Dream big, and envision it swimming in a 90 proof melted cinnamon roll frosting.  That's what we're talkin' about here.  Unbelievable.

Can I be your friend, Bread Pudding Boy?
Attentive service, a fine selection of craft ales, reasonably-priced food that exceeded expectations at almost every turn and fine foodie friends made this an afternoon we'll be remembering fondly for quite awhile.  Thanks for joining us guys...good times and excellent resto choice!

Cajun Cafe on the Bayou on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. I said it before and I'll say it again - what a fantastic day - good food, ice cold beer, and our friends, Sweet Polly and her Underdog. Life doesn't get much better than that.

    We can hardly wait until our next gastronomic convergence. As good as it was, the food, beer, and venue still take a back seat to just basking in your auras.