Sam’s Southern Eatery–Bossier City, LA

Sam’s Southern Eatery
2910 Barksdale Blvd.
Bossier City, LA
(318) 658-9980
Sam's Southern Eatery

Sam’s Southern Eatery


Sam’s Southern Eatery is a chain of Cajun style restaurants based in Shreveport, and which consistently shows up on restaurant review sites as a readers’ favorite. There are several locations in the Shreveport area, and they appear to be individually owned although linked to the chain through the supply of shrimp they receive as well as following the same recipes for cooking the food.

One feature pointed out to me that made this location unique was its sale of freshly made home made cakes. The regular menu appears to be the same at all Sam’s locations, although I did notice some differences between this restaurant and the one I had previously tried in Oklahoma City (the OKC restaurant served fried rolls and this one did not).

When I went to this location in the evening hours it had already run out of some items. They had run out of red beans and rice, and they initially said they were out of gumbo but then said I could have the gumbo but they were out of the rice that went with it (I gladly accepted this offer).

Gumbo

Gumbo

Gumbo without rice

The Gumbo was my main order, and it was a very good one. They were out of the rice that usually came with the order, but I thought the gumbo was very good anyway. The flavor of the roux was really a lot better than the one I had tried in Oklahoma City, although the shrimp and other ingredients were about the same at both restaurants. This was not the largest size gumbo they had, but was nevertheless filling if you ate it with side dishes.

Fried Shrimp

Fried shrimp

Medium sized order of fried shrimp

The sign on the front of the restaurant says “Home of the Jumbo Shrimp,” and this is to be taken seriously. I think these are actually prawns, but in any case this order of eight shrimp really seems to be enough for three people although two of us with great effort managed to eat it (and enjoy it very much).

My dining companion ate the side dishes, and they were reported to be very good as I have found them to be in the Oklahoma City Sam’s.

Cake

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake

This location features home made cakes made by a third party, with about eight or ten varieties available. The restaurant recommended peanut butter and reviews also indicate this is one people particularly like, but I thought the chocolate I ordered was quite satisfying (you probably can’t go wrong with any of the flavors).

General Comments
This was not the absolute best fried shrimp I have ever had, but it was close, and I can see why it is the featured dish of the restaurant. Keep in mind, though, that the pieces are quite big. In my mind about three or four pieces per person is about right if you eat it with side dishes or a small gumbo.

The gumbo is what I enjoyed the most, though. I feel that it is a special treat to get gumbo as good as the one here, and ones with comparable flavor are not available in most parts of the country.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Cajun
Cost: $$
Hours: 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM (closed Sun.)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 27, 2017

Number of Visits: 1

Best Items: Gumbo, Fried Shrimp

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Fried Shrimp
star 5 Gumbo
star 5 Chocolate Cake

Blu Basil–Lafayette, LA

Blu Basil
5451 Johnston St.
Lafayette, LA
(337) 456-1120
Blu Basil

Blu Basil


Although I know Lafayette is the center of Cajun food, music and culture, this is certainly not the only type of food worth exploring in the area. I had read many good reviews of the Asian restaurants in the city, and Blu Basil seemed to be at the top of the list.

Blu Basil is a Vietnamese restaurant that also serves “Asian Fusion” (according to Yelp). My take on it is that it is Vietnamese food plus other items, rather than the Vietnamese food being Americanized into a fusion cuisine. The atmosphere is quite elegant, giving the customers the feeling that they are at a “special treat” Asian restaurant, yet the prices are moderate (they are higher than I would want to spend every day but are far lower than I have seen for special occasion type Asian restaurants in various cities).

Some on-line reviews indicated that Blu Basil had one of the most extensive Asian food menus in the city, and this is one of the things that initially drew me to the restaurant. When talking to the waitress, though, I found out that some of the more interesting Vietnamese dishes had recently been dropped from the menu due to low demand by customers (one of these was the Banh Xeo). Although I was disheartened by this (thinking that every city deserves a good Banh Xeo), there are other reasons Blu Basil is still a good choice.

I experienced quite heavy traffic throughout the city as I made a tour, aggravated largely by major construction zones as well as what appeared to be major population growth around a street system which had been designed for a much smaller city. Although it is good that some of these problems are now being resolved, I was made more aware of the fact that Blu Basil offers a tranquil haven of good food, soothing jazz music, and friendly employees. The nicely decorated interior made me think I was going to have to pay quite a bit for my meal, but it turned out to be pretty reasonable (I was too late for the lunch specials which are served until 3:00 P.M but dinner is not much more expensive).

Vermicelli Dishes

Grilled chicken bowl

Grilled chicken bowl

One of my favorite dishes at Vietnamese restaurants is the vermicelli bowl, and Blu Basil had several from which to choose. The Grilled Chicken Bowl actually had the extra bonus of coming with spring rolls, and although this almost made this dish too much for my appetite, I certainly thought it was enjoyable. The good points of the dish included high quality meat, a good mixture of vegetables, a good fish sauce, and of course the very good spring rolls. The negatives included the fact that they did not offer lemongrass chicken and the fact that the dish did not include mint among the mixed vegetables. Neither of these detracted greatly from the dish, although if I lived in the area I would hope these would be available in the Vietnamese food.

Tea

Jasmine tea

Jasmine tea

For hot tea the restaurant serves a very high quality jasmine tea served with loose leaves. I was somewhat amused by the lemon and honey they give you to put in the tea, but it was quite good without these additions (but at least everyone has a choice). In addition to the jasmine tea I ordered they also offer green and chrysanthemum hot tea, Vietnamese iced coffee, iced tea, orange juice, and freshly squeezed lemonade. All of these items currently cost $3.50 and at least with respect to the jasmine tea, I thought it was well worth it.

Further Comments
In a sense I felt that the food here was really better than in other Vietnamese restaurants to which I have given the same rating, but it is taking into consideration the fact that Blu Basil does not have as large a choice as other restaurants (such as the fact that no lemongrass chicken is available). I will say, though, that adding the spring rolls on top was an unexpected bonus that few other restaurants include.

The menu included quite a few dishes that either looked like more exotic Vietnamese dishes or were “fusion,” so I think if you come here expecting to pay $$$ instead of $$ you might well find some very good dishes.

They have a large variety of pho, and it seems as if they have the basic dishes well covered as well as the more expensive and elaborate ones.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Vietnamese
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer, Wine, Full Bar

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 27, 2017
Number of Visits: 1
Best Item: Grilled Chicken Bowl

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Jasmine (loose leaves)
MSG: No
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Grilled Chicken Bowl

 

Poche’s–Breaux Bridge, LA

Poché’s
3015 Main Highway
Breaux Bridge, LA
(337) 332-2108
Poche's

Poche’s Market, Restaurant and Smokehouse


Poche’s has become one of the best known places to get Cajun food, having been featured on Globe Trekker as well as countless travel books and guides. Located a few miles east of Lafayette, Louisiana, I watched in mid-morning as much of the local community and possibly a few tourists such as myself congregated at this “market, restaurant and smokehouse” for its popular plate lunches, with even more people picking up Poche’s famous sausage and other items to go. One of the best aspects of it is that it is not a tourist destination, but it provides an insight into the local Cajun culture which is steeped in tradition, nowhere more evident than in its food.

Poche's sign

The entrance to the restaurant and meat market

The food served here requires hours of preparation for most items, mainly because most items contain sausage or other types of smoked meat. I can say that sausage is the best item here, but really it is the delicious dishes that contain sausage and other smoked meats such as the richly flavored red beans and rice (served as a plate lunch on Mondays) or the gumbo (a seasonal dish served in the winter). I feel that I hit the jackpot by being able to try both of these dishes, but I am sure there are others that are equally good.

Plate lunches

The selection of plate lunches

The plate lunches, served from 10:30 AM to 2:00 PM, are arrayed in a counter where you can pick out a main dish and two sides. This is served daily, with a different menu each day of the week. Dinner is served after 2:00, with the same menu every day. Seasonal specials, such as the gumbo, are available all day until they run out, and do not come with side dishes.

I was happy I came during the time they had plate lunches. Not only are they reasonably priced, but I got to see a sample of true Cajun food even though I was not able to try everything.

Red Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice

Red beans and rice plate lunch

The Red Beans and Rice plate lunch was something I was able to try, and found that the sausage in this dish is probably my favorite (the menu just calls it “Sausage”). I loved the flavors of this dish, and thought that even without the sausage this would have been the best example of red beans and rice I have tried. This was one of the items on the Monday menu, though, and is only available for a three and a half hour period once per week. (The ladies told me, though, that you can go earlier than 10:30 and still get many of the plate lunch items).

Gumbo

Gumbo

Gumbo available as a seasonal dish in winter

I ordered Gumbo thinking that it would be a light lunch (really breakfast for me), but the generous servings of meat in it provided a quite filling meal. It appears that they sometimes vary the meats, but this one had chicken, sausage, and tasso (all were excellent). The flavor of the roux, though, made this the best dish I tried and quite possibly the best dish at the restaurant.

Boudin

Boudin

Boudin

Although I really did not have the appetite for it, I did not want to miss a chance to try Poche’s famous Boudin sausage. There is no doubt they know what they are doing in their sausage making, although being the first time I had tried boudin I don’t have any others with which to compare it.

The Market
Poche’s also sells food (mostly smoked meats) to go, and a good selection of grocery items including some specialty items such as Poche’s Pralines. Many items are also available by mail order.

The Overall Picture
In my opinion Poche’s is the quintessential example of Cajun food, much as Chope’s is for southern New Mexican cuisine. I have not tried very many other Cajun restaurants, and I am not sure Poche’s is the best, but I believe it is enough to demonstrate what Cajun food can be if prepared properly.

The rating for this restaurant (one of the highest I have given to any restaurant) is based on the fact that the right combination of ingredients (such as in the gumbo or red beans and rice) provided an experience as enjoyable to me as a top quality steak or similar examples of other cuisines. I do not say that Cajun food is better than other cuisines, but prepared as it is at Poche’s it can certainly be equal to others.

The fact that the gumbo is a seasonal dish and red beans and rice are only served on Mondays causes me to be a little cautious in determining the rating, but I am still confident that other dishes are of similar high quality.


RATING: 26

Cuisine: Cajun
Cost: $$
Hours: 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM (6 AM to 7 PM Sun.)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 27, 2017

Number of Visits: 1

Best Items: Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice, Sausage

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Red Beans and Rice
star 5 Gumbo
star 5 Boudin