THE ADVOCATE – JANUARY 2009

Denham Springs cafe offers traditional Louisiana fare

By JUDY BERGERON
Restaurant reviewer
Published: Jan 9, 2009 – UPDATED: 12:05 a.m.

Taste of Louisiana Café lives up to its name, with a lengthy menu featuring the state’s delicacies, along with other dishes considered “home cooking” and a few twists on traditional items.

Situated on downtown Denham Springs’ main drag, diners can people-watch for Antique Village shoppers, thanks to several vertical windows on the front and one side of the restaurant. The dining area, painted a golden yellow, is cozy and warm, with an eclectic mix of framed art and knick-knacks decorating the walls. There are a dozen tables, and a lone booth near the counter separating the dining area from the kitchen. Ceiling fans and plants complete the decor. The eatery was busy on a recent Friday for lunch, having just reopened after a holiday break.

One of the specials, a feta smokehouse burger ($8.95) was quite enjoyable. The large, thick beef patty was grilled to well done, and topped with all the usual fixings, plus crumbled feta cheese. The fresh bun was lathered with a chipotle mayonnaise that had a nice little kick. A pile of skin-on French fries accompanied the burger.

The tilapia St. Charles ($14.95) looked like two filets, but was just one very large and tender filet, lightly fried, and sitting atop a generous amount of crawfish etouffee, packed with crawfish and nicely seasoned. The filet itself was topped with a small amount of mildly flavored lump crabmeat. With a house salad and garlic bread, this is a substantial amount of food, especially at lunch, so a to-go box was in order. The house salad offered mixed greens including fresh spinach leaves, tomato, Cheddar and Mozzarella cheeses and large homemade croutons which were still warm from toasting. A nice touch.

The pot roast dinner ($9.95) definitely had that homemade taste, the meat cooked to fork tender in a thick, rich brown gravy served over fluffy white rice. Served in a large bowl, there was plenty of this left for a to-go box, also. The roast was served alongside two slices of garlic bread and a generous amount of fried okra. Lightly dipped in a seasoned batter, the okra was tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside and a nice diversion from fries.

Returning for dinner on a Tuesday night, we tried the fried eggplant and shrimp, the fried chicken strips and the crab Angela.
The fried eggplant and shrimp ($11.95) paired 16 small- to medium-sized shrimp with seven eggplant medallions. The shrimp were cooked to doneness in a well-seasoned batter. The eggplant, covered in Italian-seasoned bread crumbs and lightly fried, was delicious. White beans and rice and garlic bread came with the dish. The beans were tasty, though on the mild side seasoning-wise.

We were disappointed in the chicken strips ($10.50), served with rice and gravy, fried okra and garlic bread. The strips, although fried properly, were quite bland. The brown gravy looked like the gravy we had had at the previous lunch, but lacked that homemade taste entirely.

The crab Angela ($7.95) was a fried stuffed crab served alongside a cup of shrimp and corn soup and garlic bread. The crab was well-filled, with a good crabmeat-to-breading ratio, and bits of celery and other seasonings. The soup was rich, creamy and soothing, full of kernels of sweet corn and small shrimp.

The sweet potato bread pudding ($4.95) was delightful, the addition of sweet potato adding more sweetness and texture to the very large square of pudding, topped with a thin praline sauce. The blackberry cobbler ($4.95), topped with vanilla ice cream, was also good, although the serving was much smaller than that of the pudding.

Service was friendly and prompt on both of our visits.