A Taste of the South: Notes from a Trip to Louisiana

Damn that Crawfish Etouffee!

Prejean’s has done for us (or really, for Mike) what few restaurants can ever do: set a standard for a dish. Their crawfish etouffee was so good that even I, who doesn’t like seafood, loved it. But I’m getting ahead of myself. My reviews are stories, so let’s start there.

We had left Natchitoches after trying their meat pies and took the slow way to Lafayette. We stopped at a roadside store advertising pecans (but it was closed), saw a couple of plantations from the road, stopped at the Kent Plantation House (from where we got kicked out, you can only tour the grounds with a tour, and there were none happening when we arrived) and the super quaint Louisiana History Museum, where we got a volunteer tour of every single item displayed in their collection. By the time we were approaching Lafayette, we were hungry – and also, sort of in a hurry because we had scheduled a swamp tour for 4 PM. Prejean’s showed up on Google maps as having well rated Cajun food and being close to the road. Just what we wanted!

As I was to find out later, as I raved about the abovementioned crawfish etouffee to whoever I met, Prejean’s has a very good local reputation. It’s a rather large restaurant, with a prominent bar, an unusual and yet very interesting decore (look at those trees!), a casual vibe and great service. If I were in town again, that’s where I’d head. And really, we should have just eaten there and nowhere else. We went to the Carencro location, north of Lafayette, but they have another in Broussard, right south of the city.

Prejean’s menu is full of Cajun and Southern specialties, as well as all-around American food. They offer several types of gumbos, burgers and po’boys in addition to entrees.

We started with the Gator Bites ($13.6). We’ve seen these in many menus, and we knew we had to try them, but we had been somewhat reluctant. We’d had alligator before – albeit quite a few years ago -, and we’d found it to be unwelcomely chewy. This presentation, on very small bites (almost popcorn alligator) mostly solved that problem, but I still prefer the little resistance that chicken gives you. The bites, served with ranch and “Thai pepper jelly” (aka as Thai sweet chili sauce), were very tasty, though I felt the abundant breading made them a little dry.

As repeatedly foreshadowed, Mike ordered a cup of the Crawfish Etouffee ($12.5). This came from the soups part of the menu, and perhaps for this reason it was served as a soupy dish with the rice by the side – similar to how my jambalaya dish had been served in New Orleans. He was to order crawfish etouffee twice again later, and both times it had been cooked (or perhaps just mixed) with the rice. Having it by itself, was much better. But it was the flavor that really made this dish special. As Mike would describe it, it was as close to perfection as a dish could come. The flavors were intense – but not too intense – and balanced. The broth itself was not too fishy, with notes of crawfish rather than having it be the lead element. But there were abundant pieces of crawfish to do that. In all, order it. Just to to Prejean to order it. Even if like me (or is it I?), you don’t like crawfish.

I decided on the “Da Cou-yon” Burger ($15.6), an 8 oz burger with pepperjack cheese, boudin, grilled onions & peppers, and Avery Island dressing on a buttered burger bun. Needless to say it was a huge burger. It was also difficult to eat as one, as it was too large to fit into my mouth. So basically, it was a fork and knife burger, but a delicious one at that. Boudin – a sausage made with pork, rice, onions and seasonings – has a weird consistency, too soft to be a sausage (think like liver, but less chalky), but the flavor was great. The burger was juicy enough and the combination of flavors worked well. Obviously, Mike had to help me finish it, even leaving aside the top bun and the fries.

I had ordered the White Chocolate Bread Pudding ($8.4), served with whiskey butter sauce, at the start of the meal, but we were too full – and in too much of a hurry to get to our swamp tour – to have it at the restaurant, so we had it to go. Fortunately, our hotel had a fridge and microwave, so I was able to heat up and had it as a snack later. It was just OK. The flavor was god enough, but the pudding as a whole was too dry and hard. I prefer my bread pudding when the bread almost melts in your mouth. The sauce was not very complex, and while it added the sweetness that the bread pudding lacked by itself, I did find it too sweet.

As I mentioned, service was great and our whole experience there was top notch. It’s the place to go if you are ever around Lafayette, Louisiana – and make sure you get some crawfish ettouffee.

3480 NE Evangeline Thruway
Lafayette, LA 70507
(337) 896-3247
Mon-Thu: 10:30am-9:00pm
Fri & Sat: 10:30am-10:00pm
Sun: 10:30am-4:00pm