Thursday, October 14, 2010

Boutte's Bayou Restaurant | Accidental Gem on the Bayou

Here is my review of Boutte's Bayou Restaurant from the April 2010 issue of The West Bank Beacon:

The Accidental Gem on The Bayou

In 1971, Russell and Margie Boutte bought a house in Lafitte on Bayou Barataria. The Boutte family lived in the front part of the house where Margie Boutte routinely cooked the family meals. Out of the back of the house, facing the bayou, the Bouttes operated a small grocery store. Local boaters, fishermen, and sportsmen pulled their boats up to the store to buy groceries and supplies. The aromas of Ms. Margie’s cooking wafted over into the grocery store making customers want to buy what she was cooking.

As a result of customers’ encouragement, a limited food menu was offered in the store. Mr. Russell decided to expand the food service by driving his station wagon out to the local shipyards to take lunch orders. He would return to the house with the orders, help Ms. Margie fill the orders, and then head back out to deliver the meals to the workers. The delivery menu included daily lunches, fried chicken, and roast beef po-boys. Eventually the food orders grew in popularity and Boutte’s grocery added a café serving mostly take-out orders.

In 1975, the Bouttes converted the grocery store/cafe and their house into a full-service restaurant. Boutte’s Bayou Restaurant has been operating a seafood restaurant in the same location since then. In 1980, the Bouttes added an upstairs dining room for banquets where they can accommodate up to 50 people.

Russell Boutte, Jr. and his wife Katie Areas took over the business in the 1990’s. They have since divorced but maintain the family business together. Ms. Margie still does the “pot cooking,” i.e., red beans, turtle soup, gumbos and all plate lunches.

Boutte’s menu offers a variety of local favorites including fried chicken ($4.75 for ¼; $6.25 for ½), hamburger steak ($6.50) and red beans & rice with either pork chops or fried catfish ($7.00). Sandwiches and po-boys include foot-long oyster po-boys for $9.75 and foot-long shrimp po-boys for $7.00.

No seafood restaurant on the bayou would be complete without serving heaping platters of freshly-caught fried seafood! On a recent Friday, I enjoyed the half shrimp, half oyster platter ($11.50). The seafood was perfectly fried. The flavor of the oysters and shrimp was intact and not overpowered by a heavy batter. My dad had a delicious seafood platter with shrimp, oysters, fish, and stuffed crab. ($16.00). The platters are served with fries or baked potato, salad, and toast. My nephew had a bowl of seafood gumbo ($5.50) that was full of shrimp and crabmeat and a fried catfish po-boy ($6.00) served on fresh French bread.

Boutte’s also offers broiled seafood items including catfish ($10.50), stuffed flounder ($16.00), and a char-broiled 14-ounce rib eye steak ($15.50), all served with baked potato, salad, and toast. There are two specialties that sound divine: Boutte’s Shrimp Supreme – broiled shrimp in butter sauce, salad, and garlic bread ($11.50), and Shrimp Lover’s Plate – shrimp remoulade, shrimp salad, cup of seafood gumbo, stuffed shrimp, ½ dozen fried shrimp and French bread ($16.00). Child’s platters are available and range in price from $3.75 to $5.50.

The menu offers a nice selection of appetizers: shrimp cocktail, shrimp remoulade, fried crab claws, fried crawfish tails, chicken strips, and crawfish meat pie. (All are $4.75). A full bar offers draft beer, bottled beer, wine, and cocktails.

Boutte’s is open Tuesday – Wednesday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Thursday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Closed on Monday. The phone number is 504-689-3889. The address is 5134 Boutte Street, Lafitte. (Look for it on the right a short distance after crossing the Goose Bayou Bridge). You can also check them out on their Facebook page. Locals, families, and tourists alike are all welcome at Boutte’s where they will be warmly welcomed by Katie and her friendly, attentive staff.

In 1971, aspiring entrepreneurs Russell and Margie Boutte realized their dream of opening a little bayou grocery store and accidentally became restauranteurs. As Mark Twain said: “Accident is the name of the greatest of inventors.” Boutte’s Bayou Restaurant is a real gem on the bayou.

Reprinted with permission of The West Bank Beacon.

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1 comment:

  1. Best fried catfish I've ever had.