4038 Bayou Black Dr., Houma
Monday – Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Surroundings: 4 1/2
Food: 3 1/2
Service: 4 1/2
Bayou Delight: Eat, drink, then stay to dance and feed the gators
By DAVE NORMAN
Bayou Delight sits in rural west Terrebonne on the banks of Bayou Black, a waterway that gave us much pleasure as children. But it’s only seven easy miles outside of Houma, so most can reach it faster than the mall or the Martin Luther King megastore strip.
It’s a trip that pays off in several ways.
There’s nothing fancy about the building or its exterior – its origins as a fast food joint before the add-on extension ensure no pretensions. But it’s not barebones or tacky, either.
Success allowed, then demanded, expansion to the current and fairly huge dining/dancing room. Tables for two line the walls, while larger tables for groups of four to 14 are scattered throughout.
The back wall looks like the perfect platform for a bandstand, which it is. It’s great expanse, but not at the expense of a cozy feel.
Tourists are welcomed and catered to, but Bayou Delight survives and thrives by keeping a steady clientele.
The menu holds few surprises or novelties.
Appetizers include the hybrid Boudin Bites or Balls (size is the only difference), Fried Crab Claws, Fried Alligator, Shrimp En Brochette and Crawfish Kickers. Soups (gumbos and vegetable soup), salads (shrimp, chicken and Chef), po-boys and the usual sides (the not-so-usual steamed veggies, softshell crab and sweet potato fries) round out the framing items.
The heart of the menu is wide and deep.
“Cajun Favorites” start the entrees with Catfish Crochet and Patsy’s Stuffed Softshell Crab. Both feature shrimp Acadiana sauce, a cream-based Cajun variety that’s well balanced between its garlic/onion seasoning and its red-peppered heat. And you’d better take a liking to the Acadiana sauce, as it’s on a few other dishes, too.
There’s an interesting alligator sauce piquante, shrimp or crawfish etouffee, and white beans, rice and catfish, along with red beans rice and sausage.
Fried seafood merits a whole page; there are large and small global platters and various single and combination platters for the more specific-minded. Four pasta and poultry dishes (each) and Southern fried chicken round out the choices.
We acted first on a personal recommendation and got the chicken. Good choice. The pieces are generous, and the battered crust splits the difference between the usual home-cooked flatness – with outstanding taste – and the billowing clouds of more commercial types.
Not overly greasy, the chicken had just enough kick to remind you that “Southern” still means “Louisiana”. No morsel remained when we finished, the bones looking like they had spent weeks bleaching in the desert.
The fries were hot and sinfully good.
On our next couple of trips we branched out. Boudin Bites came hot and tasty, although the larger balls may have given the boudin inside more of a chance to shine; the bites tasted more like fried batter than boudin.
The gumbos were superb. The chicken and sausage had nice hunks of chicken and manageably small sausage slices swimming in a well-balanced stock. The roux was dark but not dominating. The seafood topped that, however. The addition of oysters gave the broth a heady oceanic aroma, and the taste doubled down on the smell.
Both gumbos came with a significant salt deficit (smart and better than too much), easily remedied.
Mama Bessie’s Vegetable Soup promised much. It was very good, with a stock that had been reduced and caringly constructed. Excellent vegetable soup for a restaurant, but can it really outshine your mom’s?
The large seafood platter came with the usual shrimp, fish and softshell crab. All were fried expertly with batters tailored to their individual characteristics, a sure sign of a restaurant’s moxie.
The stars were the stuffed crab and shrimp, however. The stuffings were mouth-pleasing, meaty and seasoned just right.
We also tried the Shrimp Pasta Acadiana. Corkscrew pasta and medium-sized shrimp luxuriate in Bayou Delight’s signature sauce. It’s cream-based but not overly heavy. It’s got the unmistakable “Cajun” flavor we’ve all come to know and love, but it tastes as though it’s made from scratch (not just Tony’s poured into half-and-half, for example).
The service was perfect. And by that I mean the waitress acted as though she knew us (not overly familiar, just relaxed), and was attentive in just the right amount.
Friday and Saturday nights feature live Cajun music, naturally. It’s raucous fun, and unpretentious. The kids can go out (with close supervision) to the back deck, where spoiled but still feral alligators motor their way to catch thrown morsels.
On the night we went the gators got into some territorial squabbles much to my 10-year-old’s delight. And that is the operative word.