Cajun Cafe

Date
9 Jun 2012
Cuisine
American
Cost
Average Cost ($8-$14)
Location
Outside Madison County
Rating
3 out of 5

Outside Cajun Cafe (2)

Melanie’s Take

I grew up in a little community south of Huntsville and the Tennessee River called Lacey’s Spring. As a kid, it was home to me, so I didn’t notice how backward it was in many ways, but now that I’m an adult, although still home to me, I see it as having many qualities of small southern towns that stem from the complex issues of poverty, redneck culture, and lack of education. This being true, it should come as no surprise that this little town only has a few restaurants, and one of them is a dive called Cajun Cafe. It is a restaurant that the Waterboy could love with its over-the-top creole decor, shanty vibe, and unpretentiousness.Po Boy

I walked up to the ordering counter and decided to try the shrimp po boy. It was a classic version served on french bread with lettuce and a mayo-based creole sauce. Although there was nothing terribly wrong with the sandwich, there was also nothing terribly memorable or tasty about it. The shrimp lacked seasoning, and the flavors of the sandwich as a whole just didn’t pop. I was particularly struck by this given how often cajun food relies on its heavy seasoning for flavor. The po boy was served with a side, and I chose the gumbo. Although it looked like traditional gumbo, the flavor just wasn’t there. I’m tempted to think that they might’ve been having an off day, though, given the glowing reviews I’ve seen this place given elsewhere.

Bread Pudding

The saving grace of the meal was the bread pudding. It was comfort dessert extraordinaire with its creaminess and warmth. Although missing the traditional creamy sauce topping, it was plenty moist and included chunks of fruit and nuts. It reminded of what fruitcake might be if it were made into bread pudding. Although not blown away by any of the food, I’d definitely return for the bread pudding. Cajun Cafe is also worth a shot if you’re feeling adventurous and want to be transported to a dive straight out of the bayou.

Boiled PeanutsShane’s Take

Cajun Cafe has been on our list for a while, but I kept putting off a visit because of its backwoods appearance. I mean, a place that looks like it does is either delicious or disgusting. Although it wasn’t fair to them, I kept thinking it would be less than good. Armed with an expiring coupon and an endorsement from a friend, though, I was running out of excuses, so we gave it a shot.

The atmosphere is something to behold. From the outside it looks like a floating bait and tackle store that washed ashore after being in the bay for too long. Just walking in takes a dose of courage. The inside has that same bayou appearance to it: from the nets hanging on the ceiling to the faded Tabasco poster to the plastic lizards crawling the walls, it maintains the kitschiness and dizzy looks of something that belongs in Louisiana. It made me a little uneasy, but it wasn’t beyond the soothing effects of sweet tea or good air conditioning.Inside Cajun Cafe

Trying to have a well-rounded sampling of their food, I ordered the Cajun Sampler, which included a small serving of four entrees and a side of hush puppies. From the giant menu, I chose the étouffée, the jambalaya, the beans and rice, and the New England chowder. I should’ve known better, but the New England chowder was a poor choice; it probably came from a can. The other three selections probably were made in store, but their quality varied. The étouffée was pretty and authentic, but the cook apparently forgot to salt it, exposing a “pond water” flavor that should’ve been left in the background. The beans and rice needed salt but otherwise were good and slow-cooked. Of the four selections, the jambalaya tasted the best, containing just the right amount of seasoning and the nice mouthfeel of well-cooked rice. It and the perfectly-fried hushpuppies would be a nice meal.Cajun Sampler

I’ve been scared of Cajun Cafe since I first saw it, and I dreaded the day when we would visit it in the name of fairness or adventure or another virtue not found in eating out. As it turns out, Cajun Cafe is pretty good. Although some of the food desperately needs seasoning, some of it needs nothing. The atmosphere is iffy (I held my arms closer to my person than I typically do) but amusing, and the employees were warm and helpful. I don’t plan to make it a frequent haunt, but I can see it being a nice lunch destination in the future.

Final considerations:

  • Guys, don’t take a girl here unless it’s your last date. Instead, take your buds from work when you want a change from Mexican or Chinese.
  • I enjoyed the boiled peanuts but don’t have the credentials to say if they were good boiled peanuts, so I took some to my food-loving colleague from southern Mississippi (he occasionally boils his own peanuts), and he enjoyed them, so I take it that they were good.
  • The decor included many tokens of cajun culture—purple and yellow paraphernalia, zany lights, fish decor—but it avoided the typical glorifications of alcoholism that so many cajun stores include. That was nice.

 Inside Cajun Cafe (2)

Cajun Cafe on Urbanspoon

7 Responses

  1. Phyllis

    I don’t know if I want to go there or not.

  2. Tina

    I live so close but have never ate at the Caun Cafe. I have heard nothing but good things. I know a couple that drives from Meridianville to eat there! I am going to try it real soon.

  3. Laura

    If your looking for fine dining don’t walk near the place, if your looking for fresh seafood that is delivered fresh weekly then you found the hole in the wall join that will serve you well. Yes the food at times needs salt but for many who are heart patients well this is good! ( seriously is it that hard to salt to taste yourself ) The place is packed every Friday and Saturday so do not be rushed when visiting ( your order might take up to 25 min” to arrive) You can call ahead and order to be sure it is ready. The people who own and run the place have their hearts in this place and always have something new to try to taste and snack on while you wait for your order. If your looking for perfection go to Bone fish grill but if your looking for good ole down in the buoy cooking head in and enjoy!

  4. Laura

    If your looking for fine dining don’t walk near the place, if your looking for fresh seafood that is delivered fresh weekly then you found the hole in the wall join that will serve you well. Yes the food at times needs salt but for many who are heart patients well this is good! ( seriously is it that hard to salt to taste yourself ) The place is packed every Friday and Saturday so do not be rushed when visiting ( your order might take up to 25 min” to arrive) You can call ahead and order to be sure it is ready. The people who own and run the place have their hearts in this place and always have something new to try to taste and snack on while you wait for your orde

  5. Lauren

    I’ve eaten here many times over the years, and the food is always good. My husband and I avoid eating inside at all costs, though, because your clothes will smell for miles when you leave. Our favorites are the smoked chicken, crab legs (super fresh and better than any seafood place in Huntsville), fried catfish, fried shrimp and oysters, and boiled shrimp. My husband always gets a double order of spicy new potatoes with pink sauce. Their hush puppies are AMAZING, and the tartar sauce is surprisingly fresh- not the normal Heinz variety. Great dive.

  6. I love , love this place, the food is always great and the staff are awesome!!! If you love Cajun cooking give it a try you won’t be disappointed!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *