by Kat Robinson
For someone who loves Creole and Cajun eats like I do, you might be surprised to find out I just had my first meal at Boudreaux’s Grill and Bar (towards Maumelle but in North Little Rock). Not that I haven’t had a chance to try out some of their food before. Boudreaux’s is often seen serving up something special at this charitable event and that fundraiser. The folks who run it seem pretty involved in the community.
You just can’t skip out on that sort of food for long. I needed to go try it out myself. So we gathered ourselves up Wednesday night and went out to see what we’d been missing.
The restaurant itself when you walk in is divided in portions -- a small stage to the right, a separate room with darts and a pool table to the left, the bar in the back.. Putting “grill” before “bar” in the title is apt; though there is what appears to be a rather complete bar on the premises the emphasis is on the food.
We ordered up the Sampler Platter ($13.95), partly because we were roaringly hungry and partly because we wanted to try everything. Not only did it not take long, but our entrees seemed to arrive right on top of it, and we suddenly found ourselves with a whole heck of a lot of food.
Which is not a bad thing.
But that Sampler Platter… it’s fried chicken, fried shrimp and catfish beignets served up over French fries. The chicken was on the swell side, very juicy strips with a little flour dressing. The shrimp were even better, nice and firm but we could have done with a few more. It was the catfish beignets that took us utterly by surprise. I’m so used to a beignet being a soft and sweet and lovely cloud of pastry that the idea of it being a batter-dipped hunk of catfish is foreign. You sure don’t expect the spice. From what I was told after that first breath-robbing bite is that the catfish is soaked in Louisiana cayenne sauce before it’s floured and fried. It is sinus-squeezing hot, not so much on the tongue as in the throat, likely to bring a tear to your eye. Fortunately for those like me who can only take so much unanswered heat, there’s Ranch dip to go with it. There’s also honey mustard for the chicken and cocktail sauce for the shrimp, all in a little overabundance.
The hubster went for one of the specials of the evening, the Cajun Prime Rib ($13.95). Usually when you order prime rib there’s a whole preamble of soup or salad and then some flair of pretense with a horseradish sauce or “au jus” or the like. Not here. He was offered the choice of French fries or new potatoes. He chose the latter. And when our meal landed all at once on the table, he was greeted with a hunk of meat the size of a shoe, a thick plank of meaty goodness. The outside had a nice Cajun “blackened” seasoning; the inside was as pink as you might dare to dream with just enough give for the knife to make it worth slicing. The potatoes, while not extraordinary, were pleasantly matched.
Me? I’m a traditionalist. When I eat Louisiana style, I want my etouffee, and in this case it’s Crawfish Etouffee ($10.95). It’s a big bowl that comes out with a big pile of rice in the middle and a hunk of white bread. That’s it. That’s all it needs to be. Boudreaux’s crawfish etouffee is everything you want in a bowl, enough heat to satisfy that craving, creamy with a good roux, savory with a nice selection of spices, thick, packed with well seasoned little crawfish tails and served with the almost scientifically perfect amount of white rice. And it was the perfect sized serving… it was all I wanted, and I could only nibble at the rest of what we’d ordered. Didn’t even order up dessert.
We have decided we have to go back. There are some burgers on the menu I must investigate, and the hubster is looking forward to the array of po’boys offered. And of course the bread pudding must be tested for appropriate texture and taste. You have to have good bread pudding to be a great Cajun restaurant.
You’ll find Boudreaux’s Grill and Bar at 9811 Maumelle Blvd. in North Little Rock. They’re open for lunch on Friday and Saturday and for dinner every day except Sunday. You can also call (501) 753-6860 or check out their website for more information.