GUMBO GURU: Charlotte’s Country Kitchen

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There’s something to be said about down-home southern cooking. Mrs. Charlotte at Charlotte’s Country Kitchen in Houma understands that.

Step inside the West Park Avenue eatery and you’re immediately greeted by smiling faces – like visiting a relative’s house.

Charlotte’s serves a variety of breakfast items from 7 to 10:30 a.m. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., guests order from the lunch menu. The hours Charlotte’s is open, the lot is packed – usually the mark of a good café.

A blend of tables and chairs and booths provides plenty of seating options. And the farm-themed curtains and chicken art hanging from the walls are reminiscent of a favorite aunt’s home kitchen.

The day my guests and I visited, the place was buzzing with conversation. The waitresses warmly greeted longtime visitors and newbies alike. Once seated, we were brought up to speed on the day’s specials – stew and a sandwich choice.

My guests opted to try the Shrimp Stew ($7.99) and Shrimp Okra Gumbo ($7.99). I decided to give the Homemade Roast Beef Poboy ($8.79) a try.

The shrimp stew, a special of the day, was subtly seasoned, and obviously fresh.

The server answered when asked if the shrimp were domestic quickly, disclosing that they were from Louisiana, a big plus for some of us.

The potato salad was tasty and tangy, just right.

And – surprise – moist, flavorful banana cake for dessert, without asking.

The shrimp and okra gumbo is a sure bet. Filled with the usual gumbo constituents: rice, rue, what seemed like bits of sausage and, of course, Louisiana shrimp and okra. You could tell the gumbo simmered slowly because the okra melted in your mouth. A couple turns of the spoon and all of the okra would disintegrate.

The dish, which is a healthy portion that could fill most people, comes with a side of creamy potato salad. The potato salad definitely tastes homemade, with a smooth texture and buttery taste.

Together, the shrimp and okra gumbo and potato salad are an excellent combo and could satisfy the moderate eater. No need for seconds, except on the potato salad.

The roast beef was the star of my poboy. Perfectly seasoned and super tender, I quickly understood why so many folks suggested it. I enjoyed mine with a side of potato salad, too. The ample serving made for leftovers for later that evening.

The slice of homemade banana cake was a perfect way to end the meal.

All around, Charlotte’s Country Kitchen earned thumbs up. The casual setting, friendly service and country-style cooking made for a great lunch. We can’t wait to sample breakfast. •

Charlotte’s Country Kitchen