Laissez le bon temps rouler
Entering through an open-air courtyard with tables and large screen TVs offered a good transition from the parking lot of the fairly new shopping center on Perkins Road to the corner restaurant, Le Bon Temps Bar and Grill, that really impresses with its modern decor and stylish bar. Red and dark gray walls get warmth from lots of wood accents and soft lighting. On a warmer day sitting in the courtyard would be fun, but it was a treat this night to sit inside the lovely upscale sports bar ordering from such an ambitious, Southern-flaired menu.
Our waiter was enthusiastic about the food, which is always a good sign, and we went with his excellent recommendations for appetizers. We tried the Abita tempura shrimp corndog ($10.95), and really liked the four servings of plump bites of shrimp on a skewer, battered and perfectly fried and served with a blackened aioli dipping sauce which had a nice smoky flavor. We also thoroughly enjoyed the duck and andouille egg rolls ($10.95). The two large fried rolls, stuffed with seared duck breast, andouille sausage and shredded braised cabbage and carrots, were served atop jalapeno pepper jelly and the crunchy fried exterior with the flavorful combination of meat and vegetables really sang with this sweet and spicy touch.
There was more sausage to enjoy in the duck and andouille gumbo. We tried a cup ($7.95) and liked the dark roux-based soup full of small cubes of the meat. Well-seasoned with layers of flavor, this was perfect after the egg rolls. We also tried a cup of crawfish ètouffèe ($7.95) and liked this lighter soup, which was also very flavorful and packed with crawfish. Both of these were served with rice. The soup of the day was a creamy chicken Tuscany ($6.95/cup) with a similar consistency to the liquid in a chicken pot pie, with lots of flavor from white wine and herbs and finely chopped chicken.
The creamy chicken soup went well with the beautifully-presented chicken salad ($12.95). The chopped chicken mixed with pecans, cranberries and mayonnaise was nestled in the center of the plate and surrounded with spring greens, red onions, tomatoes and cucumbers tossed with a light lemon vinaigrette. This large salad was very satisfying, the moist chicken was tasty and it had just the right amount of mayo, keeping it light and with the spotlight on the chicken.
Another entree on the lighter side was the fried green tomato BLT ($9.95). Thinly-sliced green tomatoes were lightly battered and fried, served on multigrain bread with romaine lettuce and thick cut applewood smoked bacon. We really enjoyed the slightly tart tomatoes and this fresh take on the traditional BLT, but wish there had been a little more of the delicious bacon. For $1 we substituted sweet potato fries and would recommend this substitution because the thinly sliced fries were fantastic.
Rounding out his andouille trifecta one guest had the LBT burger ($12.95). A big price for a big burger: this sandwich was a half pound of beef, topped with sliced andouille, caramelized onions and a fried egg and dressed with blackened aioli, creole mustard and Tabasco ketchup. A sandwich Dagwood Bumstead could love, we felt this one missed the mark. The meat was unevenly cooked — almost raw in places — and the combination of flavors just didn’t work for us.
On the other hand, the boudin-stuffed pork chop ($18.95) was very impressive. Warned by our attentive waiter that this 20-ounce bone-in chop would take 20 minutes to cook we found it worth the wait (all the entrees were timed to get to the table perfectly). The moist, expertly cooked chop with the well-seasoned rice and sausage mixture inside was a wonderful combination. We also liked the red bean puree underneath the chop. We chose the sauteed green beans for the side and found the well-seasoned, crisp tender dish an excellent choice.
For dessert we ordered the warm vanilla cream pound cake ($7.95) and the beignets and ice cream ($7.95). The pound cake was very tasty, light but with a crunchy top. The order was large and included three slices drizzled with a velvety vanilla cream and sprinkled with berries. The serving of beignets included eight fairly large, light and fluffy beignets served warm with a scoop of ice cream in the middle of the plate. This was enough for four and so good it should be tried the next time you have a craving for the powered sugar-covered pastry.
We enjoyed our trip to LBT and appreciated the creative and caring way they work with South Louisiana-oriented ingredients, as well as the superior service.