Sunday, September 19, 2010

National Lampoon’s Cajun Vacation – No Vaccination Required

3480 N. E. Evangeline Trwy.
Lafayette, LA
Visited August 20, 2010

Beer Selection: Abita Amber, but nothing else to scare the tourists.

Food: Cajun food of your dreams.

Generally in my search for cool, new places to eat and drink, I try to avoid touristy places.

They suffer the same fate as those corporate chains – their food is a race to the bottom – the lowest common denominator that will appeal to the broadest masses.

And if a tourist doesn’t like it, who cares? It’s not like they are ever coming back anyway.

But there can be exceptions to this “no tourist traps” rule.

Sometimes a place can be popular with tourists not because it has broad appeal, but just the opposite. It is a safe, comfortable place to try something unique.

That describes Prejean’s to the tee.

Tourists from New Jersey with minivan and mother-in-law in tow aren’t going to be traipsing through the backwoods and bayous of Louisiana looking for some authentic redneck boiling point or fish camp.

Me, on the other hand? Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m looking for.

But not the Griswalds.

They want a quick taste of Cajun food in a setting that makes them feel like they are dining in the bayou, but without the Jurassic-sized mosquitoes, mud-stuck minivan, hepatitis vaccination or toothless roughnecks leering at their daughters.

That’s why they come to Prejean’s.

Conveniently located right on the I-49 frontage road in Lafayette – the mother city of Cajun Country, Prejean’s offers every out-of-towner exactly what they are looking for in an “authentic” Cajun restaurant.

They’ve got the giant stuffed 20 foot gator when you walk in the door, walls and ceiling decorated like a Louisiana bayou, Cajun band sitting up front playing their hearts out for the packed dining room and the requisite display of T-Shirts, coffee mugs, magnets and post cards by the exit, so you don’t have to feel the least bit embarrassed asking for a souvenir.

Heck, they’ve even got a live web-cam so you can wave to your Aunt Anne while you stuff your face with crawfish-stuffed catfish.

No doubt about it, Prejean’s is a fun, atmospheric way to experience Cajun cuisine. And boy, do they do that cuisine well.

Is the food “authentic”? I have no idea.

I’m not from here either.

But I’ll tell you this – I’d come here four nights a week if I was.

Apparently a lot of locals agree. There was a nice mix of tourists and natives on the Friday night I was there.

You could easily identify the locals because they knew all the old timers in the band.

Like the atmosphere, the food at Prejean’s is everything a tourist would expect Cajun cuisine to be – spicy and delicious.

Never mind the fact that crawfish season ended nearly three months ago. Tourists don’t concern themselves with the mating cycles of mud bugs.

But you know what? When they come to a Cajun restaurant in Lafayette, Louisiana, they expect to get them some doggone crawfish.

Prejean’s is happy to oblige.

I ordered the crawfish platter which included crawfish bisque, crawfish pie, fried crawfish, and crawfish etouffee. I also had some crab bisque, crab au-gratin, hush puppies and a smoked corn pastry thingee on the side.

Each dish is smothered in so many delicious spices, sauces and seasonings, nobody’s going to notice that the crawfish were frozen rather than fresh.

Where do I start?

The crawfish pie was a life changing experience. I’d always wanted to try one and here was my chance.

It didn’t disappoint. It was a small little pie crust topped by a toasted brown-yellow layer of cheese. Inside was a delicious mixture of baked crawfish, cheese and spice.

Let’s put it this way, Prejean’s crawfish pie is now on my list of the top things I’ve ever eaten in my life.

The fried crawfish were excellent too, with just enough seasoning in the breading to keep them addictive.

The etouffee was also delicious, a rich orange sauce smothering the crawfish and white rice. Not spicy at all, but very tasty nonetheless.

The crab bisque was unbelievable. Thick, spicy corn chowder loaded with crab. What made it so decadent was the massive quantity of melted butter floating in every spoonful. It had to be the richest soup I’ve ever tried.

I’m not sure authentic Cajun food necessarily always has to be spicy, but that’s what the tourists expect. Prejean’s really delivered with the crab au-gratin, by far the most mouth tingling dish on the table. It was a casserole of crab, melted white cheese and lots and lots of spice.

Regrettably, I couldn’t even finish it all – a rare occurrence for me, and a tragedy in this case.

But I’ll be back. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ll gladly stand in line with the tourists for food this good. And just think, I won’t even have to get my shots first.

Rating: Bought the Shirt!
Prejean's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. they have a pretty good environment there. i have plan to go there.. Cajun Restaurant Franchise