VooDoo works on barbecue, too

Resolve, then follow through: Exercising more in ’14? Here’s a guide to stay on track
January 7, 2014
Historic smoking report marks 50th anniversary
January 8, 2014
Resolve, then follow through: Exercising more in ’14? Here’s a guide to stay on track
January 7, 2014
Historic smoking report marks 50th anniversary
January 8, 2014

In a town known more for fresh seafood than barbecue, Houma is fortunate.

We have a primo “mom-and-pop” place off Barrow Street, and a couple of chains that have an enjoyable dish or two. And, a more recent addition, is VooDoo BBQ & Grill, which got its start in New Orleans on Mardi Gras Day in 2002 on St. Charles Avenue.

VooDoo BBQ & Grill, situated in a strip mall along Martin Luther King Boulevard, churns out a variety of smoked meats, tasty sides and fresh salads seven days a week. The restaurant offers dine-in and take-out service, as well as catering.

VooDoo’s Facebook page describes its food best: “We’ve taken one of the oldest forms of cooking known to man and added our local flair and spices to create what people now refer to as ‘New Orleans Style BBQ.’”

Step inside the glass door and you are immediately surprised at the space. Turn to the right, and VooDoo has a full-service bar. The back wall has a number of small wooden booths, offering guests a bit more privacy – or you can grab a seat at the bar, which provides a clear view at the flat-screen TV above the bar. On this particular night, an obscure collegiate bowl game is being aired in anticipation of the big New Year’s Day rollout.

With beverage in hand, my guests and I make our way to the restaurant counter. Hints of New Orleans are evident as you make your way toward the counter. A street post sign atop the corner booth announces you’re standing at the corner of Bourbon and VooDoo, and a tin roof juts out from above the booths.

Around the corner, diners will find a large eating area – a combination of tables and booths, each outfitted with squeeze bottles of Carribbean and Cajun-inspired sauces– Mojo, a New Orleans-style BBQ blend; a spicy Mango Crystal, and a tangy Cane Vinegar. The surroundings reflect the Big Easy in style and sound. It is a very comfortable, relaxed atmosphere, and the friendly staff goes above and beyond in making you feel at home.

Above the counter, the list of choices is enticing, surpassed only by the wonderful smell of smoking pork and chicken.

VooDoo BBQ’s starters include everything from Pirogue Potato Skins ($5.29) to Fleur de lis Flappers ($9.49) to Chicken & Sausage Gumbo ($4.99) and Carnival Fries ($4.99).

The flappers – wings tossed in mango crystal or honey pepper sauce – are a VooDoo signature item.

It’s a chilly night and the gumbo seems enticing, but my guests and I are on a different quest. We’re here for the barbecue.

We pass, too, on the burgers and sandwiches, opting instead for VooDoo’s Smoked BBQ platters.

My guests decided to give the St. Louis Style BBQ Pork Ribs ($12.99 to $24.99, depending on whether you order a half, third or full rack) and BBQ Shrimp ($13.99) meals a try. I order the BBQ Chicken ($9.99).

Each platter is served with your choice of two sides and a slice of buttered and grilled French bread.

The rib dish included cole slaw and rattlesnake beans, VooDoo’s take on spicy barbecued baked beans.

With the shrimp, my guest ordered VooDoo’s signature corn pudding and macaroni and cheese.

And to accompany my chicken, I opted for the potato salad and rattlesnake beans. I completely missed the Gris Gris beans, another signature item, but the name alone requires further investigation.

The ribs were very tender, courtesy of the slow smoking, but much of the sauce simply set atop the meat in a puddle. On one hand, you could eat it with a fork, dipping the meat in extra sauce. On the other hand, my guest is a fan of finger-lickin’ good ribs.

Swimming in mayonnaise, the cole slaw somewhat lacked personality, which is unusual for any New Orleans-style dish.

The real winner of the platter was the Rattlesnake Beans. After much debate, we couldn’t identify the sauce VooDoo uses in the beans but it was a wise choice. It is a thick concoction, good to the last bean.

The shrimp were a nice size sitting in a blend of seasonings and melted butter, perfect for soaking up with the French bread. VooDoo’s corn pudding earned two thumbs up, too. The consistency of a casserole, the sweet corn is a nice touch. And the mac and cheese proved to be quite cheesy.

I don’t know why, but I half expected to receive a chicken breast caked in barbecue sauce. Instead, what arrived was thinly carved slices of chicken, the pink smoke ring still visible. The slow-cooking process perfectly complimented each tender bite. And the sliver of seasoned skin that rounded each slice left me wanting more.

A small cup of Mango Crystal sat on the side of my plate. The peppers clearly visible in the sauce, it proved a bit too much for my taste. But the Mojo (Guru advice: shake the bottle before pouring. My first try was a flavorless puddle of thin tomato liquid.) sauce provided just the kick.

The potato salad was a mayo blend atop various slices of potatoes. I’m a fan of the New Orleans trinity, so it would have been nice to encounter a bite of onion or celery. That said, I wouldn’t turn down the side on a return visit. And the kick in the baked beans is a nice touch.

All in all, VooDoo BBQ & Grill was a nice Friday night choice. As far as franchises go, it will not disappoint.

VooDoo BBQ & Grill is located at 1779 Marin Luther King Blvd. in Houma. The spacious eatery also offers catering.