Glenville — Our amiable and helpful server at Bayou Café told us everything on the menu was “fantastic,” and she was right. Our food was outstanding, and the Cajun cuisine was a nice change from the usual fare.
Bayou Café isn’t fancy, with wood floors, paneling and lots of brick. The central feature is the bar, with two dining rooms on either side. It was busy enough, and though most bar stools were occupied and tables pushed together to accommodate two large groups, it wasn’t too noisy.
WHERE: 507 Saratoga Road (Route 50), Glenville, 384-7226, www.bayoucafe.com
WHEN: 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $46.70 for food, before tax and tip
MORE INFO: Children’s menu. Credit cards: Master Card, Visa, American Express. Restaurant has wheelchair ramp and accessible bathrooms. Parking lot.
I liked the game-board tabletops and effervescent atmosphere and we felt right at home in a big booth in the front window.
You can get all kinds of fried stuff, including alligator to start, salads, burgers, sandwiches and Cajun-style New York strip for under $20. The specials included blackened shrimp primavera and fish tacos.
The Bayou features Southwest cuisine as well and you can put together a platter with tacos, quesadillas and familiar favorites, including salsa, rice and beans.
Homemade crunchy tortilla chips and salsa, with tomatoes, onions and chunks of tomatoes and a mild bite ($3.50), is a great way to begin.
The potato and crawfish au gratin ($8) appetizer, which easily feeds four, sold Virginia on crawfish right away. “There’s a nice texture to it, like lobster” she said. Potato chunks and good-sized pink crawfish pieces were folded in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce and a panko crust. It went down easy and we barely made a dent.
I could see how their thick, spicy chicken tortilla and vegetable soup ($3.50 cup) won prizes, with its chunks of white meat chicken and celery, green pepper, corn and onion. It was pleasantly fiery, tasty and great for dipping those chips.
Virginia’s open-face Po’ boy sandwich ($10.95) featured five succulent fried shrimp on a hefty toasted roll with lettuce and luscious, mildly seasoned crispy chunky fried potatoes.
A po’ boy is lot of bread, but the generous-sized shrimp were lightly battered and the roll was light. The fries were really hot and fresh, crunchy outside and soft within — delicious. Virginia took most of her meal home.
Their blackened Cajun catfish ($15.95) packs a fiery punch and I could only eat a few bites between sips of white wine. The catfish, cooked to somewhere between flaky and gelatinous and just right, was covered with some magical incandescent combination of paprika, pepper and garlic, and I loved it.
Bayou Café’s gorgeous seasonal vegetables, red and green squash, broccoli, tomato and red onion were served with butter and salt and just enough black pepper to get my attention. Their cooked rice is gray with seasonings, and all this flavor adds up to quite a meal.
Playing the game
Turns out we’re pretty good at trivia games; Bayou Café assumes everyone plays and drops answer sheets at all the tables. Before you know it you’re trying to remember who painted “Christina’s World” (It was Andrew Wyeth). We got eight out of ten and were quite pleased with ourselves.
To continue the New Orleans theme we ordered beignets ($4.50), those hot, deep-fried squares of sweetened dough topped with a blizzard of powdered sugar and served with raspberry jam. What a treat, and when dipped the jam they tasted like an inside-out jelly doughnut. They were a fabulous mess, worth every calorie.
The beignets, like everything else we had that night, were piping hot and freshly cooked. It was a great meal with a lot of interesting flavors, sensibly priced.
The tab for our food, which omitted the soup and without drinks, came to $43.20. I’d call it $46.70 before tax and tip.
The trivia added to a pleasant evening; Virginia discovered she loved crawfish and we enjoyed so many flavors and such freshly prepared food. We agree with our server, everything was fantastic.