Bayou Delight is as the name suggests

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Just across Bayou Black Drive sits an unassuming rust-colored, flat-roof building. Blink after turning off Savanne Road in Houma and you could easily miss it.

Locals know the joys of Bayou Delight, however. This Cajun and creole family-style restaurant is, after all, a local gem.

The outside doesn’t give any indication to what’s inside. But the dining room is homey and spacious. Tables offer couples, families and bigger groups plenty of space. And the decorative plastic tablecloths assure families with young ones – and clumsy people like me – that spills are not the end of the world. In fact, the whole vibe in Bayou Delight suggests you’re among friends. “Sit back, relax and leave the cooking to us” is the feeling guests are left with.

We arrive on a chilly pre-Thanksgiving Saturday and are promptly seated and welcomed by our waitress Jeannie. The LSU-Texas A&M routing is muted on a flat-screen. Locals are filing in, warmly welcomed by the wait staff. They’re here for the food, company and live music by Jean Callahan.

Callahan is a staple, playing the third Friday and Saturday of the month going on 15 years.

Promptly at 6 p.m., he breaks into song and, just as immediately, diners are up dancing. Occasional cheers erupt as LSU once again finds the end zone.

But we’re here for the meal, and that does not disappoint.

Colder temps beg for a warm start to dinner. My guests opt for a cup of the Seafood Cajun Gumbo ($3.99) and Crawfish Kickers ($6.99). I decide to give a cup of Mama Bessie’s “Secret Recipe” Vegetable Soup ($3.59) a try. Thumbs-up all the way around.

The gumbo, a dark earthy blend of Louisiana Gulf oysters, shrimp and crabmeat, had a rich flavor only natives of the region really understand. The cup is the perfect size for an appetizer.

Likewise, my soup arrived hot and filling. A combo of corn, carrots, beans of various types and an out-of-this-world broth, I’d love to know Miss Bessie’s secret.

The kickers include five crispy fried crawfish balls. An explosion of flavor, each ball is stuffed with ample-sized crawfish, the Cajun trinity and a blend of seasonings. It had a little kick to it and was so flavorful by itself, my guests ignored the dipping tartar sauce.

Bayou Delight’s reputation for fresh fried seafood platters and some of the best fried chicken this side of the Mississippi River preceded it. We didn’t have to be convinced.

My guests ordered the Crab Cakes Acadiana ($16.99) and a two-piece Southern Fried Chicken dinner ($5.29). I got my usual: Red Beans, Rice & Sausage ($7.99).

The crab dish was a huge hit. It includes two hearty, fried cakes stuffed to the hilt with big chunks of crab topped with a creamy seafood-based sauce and a compliment of shrimp. Seasoned to perfection and piping hot, my guest reported the cakes were the best she’s had in some time.

Diners receive a house salad and a choice of a baked or stuffed potato or fries with their entrees.

The red beans arrived piping hot, too; a nice change from the lukewarm offerings of late. On a return visit, I intend to ask if I can substitute a piece of chicken for the sausage, just to try something different.

Now, the real star of the night – and it was a close competition – was the fried chicken. Bayou Delight really delivers when it comes to cooking Holy bird.

My picky eater loves chicken … fried, grilled, whatever. She’d devoured half the breast before we could get a report on its flavor. When I did manage to claim a nibble, it was moist, lightly salted and well worth the trip. I noticed a number of guests eating chicken, and now understand the draw. I guarantee we’ll be back just for the chicken.

For desert, my guests shared a serving of homemade Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce ($4.29).

“I should have started with the desert,” my guest said, laughing, after the first bite.

Covered with sauce, the bread pudding was the lightest, most flavorful version of the dish she’s had in years, she reported.

The desert was crunchy on the top, almost like a briolette. And the sauce, with just a hint of rum, was equally delicious.

My guest said she’d return just to have a cup of coffee and bread pudding.

The ample serving size proved enough to easily feed two.

Bayou Delight earns kudos across the board. We had no preconceived idea of what the evening would be like as we pulled in to the parking lot that afternoon, but were amazingly greeted by our new favorite spot. Jeannie was friendly and attentive throughout the meal, and was quick to help guide us through the menu. You could tell she was very proud of the restaurant’s product.

And Callahan was a lovely addition to the evening. He delivered a variety of country & western, Cajun and swamp pop tunes and was receptive to crowd requests. It was nice to enjoy the music and still be able to have a conversation without having to yell.

Our evening was never rushed and, as other diners joined the fun, you had the sense that nobody’s a stranger at Bayou Delight.

For the food, the company and the fun, just as the name suggests, Bayou Delight in Houma really is the real deal.

Crab Cakes Acadiana as served at Bayou Delight in Houma are pictured.