Sammy’s opens new Prairieville location

Since it opened in 1988, Sammy’s Grill has grown from a spot on Highland Road into a little empire of eateries, all of which follow the same formula that made the original so popular. Its foray into Ascension Parish looks to be well-received, too.

The new Prairieville location has a large seating area, and needs every square foot. Though we got a table immediately on our weekday lunch visit, on a recent Thursday night the lobby was jammed with hungry patrons, most of whom were willing to endure a wait of more than an hour. The staff apologized profusely when our table opened up, and service was quite prompt throughout the meal.

Among more than a dozen appetizers was the Coach’s Plate ($9.95), which has a little something for everyone — grilled chicken and sausage, sliced Roma tomatoes and pickles and diced Swiss and Cheddar cheese along with barbecue and mustard dipping sauces, and long toothpicks to skewer what you want. The items can be combined in many ways, and we used some of the tomato slices to add to our dinner salads.

Sammy’s has a variety of sandwiches, many of which are large enough for the biggest appetite. That includes the muffuletta ($11.25 whole, $7.25 half). Even the half muffuletta was quite filling, with the traditional mix of Italian ham, salami, pepperoni and cheese accented with an olive mix. Sammy’s version is heavy on the meat; some might want more olive mix, but we liked this version, because there was enough to accent the sandwich without dominating it. And the bread was outstanding — a light crust hid a soft texture that held the ingredients but yielded easily to the bite.

The grilled shrimp po-boy ($10.95) was another winner, but go ahead and ask the waiter for some extra napkins. The plump, grilled shrimp tails came on thick, soft po-boy bread along with grilled onions, mushrooms and bell peppers, lettuce, tomato slices and pepper jack cheese. It was a tangy, pleasing melding of flavors, but it was also quite moist and hard to hold together.

If you’re looking for a slightly lighter alternative for lunch, Sammy’s has some very nice salads. All the salads start with a mix of Romaine lettuce, purple cabbage and shredded carrots, and are liberally dusted with grated parmesan cheese. The salads are served in a wide-lipped bowl and the garnishes ¬≠— Roma tomato slices, boiled egg and cucumbers — are positioned on the lip so you can pick which ones you want and leave the others out. You can get the salad topped with grilled or fried chicken, grilled or fried chicken Caesar, grilled chicken pasta, fresh baby spinach and feta cheese, grilled or fried tiger (shrimp, crawfish and shredded pepper Jack cheese), grilled seafood Caesar (shrimp, crawfish and lump crabmeat), grilled or fried shrimp, chilled shrimp remoulade, grilled tuna, grilled tuna Caesar or topped Caesar (grilled or fried shrimp or crawfish). All come with choice of dressing.

You might just want fried crawfish tails on your salad — not on the menu, but when we asked, Sammy’s accommodated ($9.95). It was delicious, and the slightly spicy kick from the crawfish nicely countered the sweetness of the honey mustard dressing (our choice). The salad was plenty big enough to handle a lunchtime appetite, but you probably won’t leave any on the plate.

The shrimp Chardonnay ($13.95) is one of 10 seafood entré es and featured a dozen butterflied shrimp (or crawfish) sauteed with mushrooms and green onions. The shrimp were perfect: firm, moist, not the slightest bit overcooked, and flavorful. This came with a twice-baked potato covered in cheese, salad and garlic bread.

The fried pork chops with red beans and rice ($11.95) had two pork chops that were fried with a spicy batter that any chicken would be proud to call its own. With a generous helping of red beans, sausage and green onions over white rice, this just begged us to ask for a to-go box. The chops were moist, and the pepper in the batter kept pace with that in the red beans.

Sammy’s has several tempting desserts, but we failed to leave room to sample them. Perhaps next time.