C’est Si Bon (Trust me, it really is!)
I haven’t polled how the restaurant industry has fared during this post-Gustav and Ike period, but we all saw most industries in this area suffer a slowdown or, at the least, a postponement of business.
It does appear that restaurants in our area haven’t escaped this downturn, either.
In some cases, local eateries have had to post signs alerting customers that seating is limited because of ongoing repairs or a manpower shortage. Further, the menu selections at several establishments have been severely limited.
It is amazing how long it takes for things to return to normal after Mother Nature comes visiting.
The place I visited this month, thankfully, appears to have been virtually unaffected by the storms. A-Bear’s Café, located on 809 Bayou Black Drive in Houma, is tucked away where Barrow Street intersects Bayou Black Drive (La. Hwy. 311).
For those needing a site to get your bearings, A-Bear’s is across from the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center.
For this writer, A-Bear’s was such a hole in the wall at first glance that I drove by the restaurant most days as a child during the 1970s and early 1980s and simply didn’t appreciate this place as a dining option. Simply put, I was wrong and it disappoints me that I didn’t discover A-Bear’s years ago.
In my defense, A-Bear’s is primarily a “lunch” restaurant, open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until 2:45 p.m. (2 p.m. on Saturdays). So, A-Bear’s logically didn’t fit my schedule when I was in school.
All I can say is don’t let this happen to you, as this restaurant deserves your patronage.
Over the past two to three years, though, I have tried to make up for my slow start by venturing to this haven for lunch at least once a month.
A-Bear’s promotes itself as “a family-owned Cajun restaurant providing good Cajun meals in an authentic Cajun atmosphere.” That one sentence really tells you all you need to know. The facility itself is a Cajun storefront with a classic covered front porch in a rustic setting, which is amazing considering it’s only a block away from the hustle and bustle of Barrow Street traffic.
The interior is in its original 1920s form with cypress construction. It is more spacious than it appears from the outside, and is comfortable, quaint, cozy and inviting.
On days when I am in Houma and am inclined to experience a good gumbo, A-Bear’s gets my call, usually as a to-go order. A large shrimp gumbo with potato salad, priced at $6.95, satisfies my lunch appetite … with plenty to rejuvenate me at dinner.
Actually, today, as I was writing this article, my office manager dropped by my office and asked if I wanted gumbo for lunch. My response was simply, “From A-Bear’s?”
Her look pierced me, as if to say, “Where else?” My added response was a simple, “Yes, of course I would like some gumbo from A-Bear’s.”
What I especially appreciate about their gumbo is the side potato salad, which complements and contrasts with the gumbo perfectly.
The restaurant does have daily chalkboard specials, which I tend to gravitate toward. Recently, I succumbed to the fried catfish lunch, complete with lightly breaded, thin catfish, potato salad (yes, you can get everything with potato salad or substitute cole slaw) and white beans. Like the gumbo, the serving portion is simply more than a meal.
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the special usually includes country fried steak, red beans and rice and smoked sausage. They tend to mix it up on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
I also deviated recently and split a sausage po-boy with a friend, which turned out to be another sound choice.
Several months ago, my deviation was a crawfish pie appetizer.
If you are in the neighborhood and want something different to do on a Friday night, A-Bear’s is open on this one night from 5:15 to 9 p.m. Dinner is accompanied with live Cajun and country music. I have not had the good fortune of seeing a Friday night at A-Bear’s in action, but it does interest me and maybe it will interest you too.
As part of the Friday night special, they serve all-you-can-eat fried catfish filets ($9.95), which come topped with A-Bear’s homemade crab sauce for an additional $1.
You may select any of the following side dishes: red beans and rice, white beans and rice, French fries or smothered potatoes. No matter your choice, you won’t be disappointed.
A-Bear’s is a classic Cajun restaurant that has been polishing its craft since 1963. Their formula for a good meal and good atmosphere should keep the lines long for years to come.