The Bayou is now open.
The Bayou -- the New Orleans-themed restaurant long in the making in the former Ken's Bar space on South Butler Street -- opened yesterday, March 16. Lunch drew a decent-sized crowd, heading in for gumbo, po' boys and red beans n' rice.
The space is tall and narrow, aiming for a "courtyard" effect. I pulled up a bar stool -- well, they're like tall wrought-iron patio chairs, and a little cumbersome -- and watched the kitchen staff ladling up bowls of gumbo while I counted the po' boys and sandwiches on the menu (thirteen) and paid scant attention to WISC's noon ag report on the flat screen televisions.
Among the sandwiches, there are the favorites -- muffaletta, fried oyster, fried crawfish, and fried catfish, with twists like a black 'n bleu burger, a grilled eggplant and squash, a portabella mushroom, and a chicken and artichoke version. French bread is flown in daily from New Orleans from the Ledenheimer bakery. Sandwiches are in line with other New Orleans po' boys in town --$7-$10, with a choice of French fries, sweet potato fries, potato salad or applewood bacon baked beans.
There's a soup of the day, and then there's "Yesterday's soup" -- on the menu with the caveat that a soup that's had a day to let its flavors meld is a far superior soup. I couldn't argue with that and even though technically I'd already eaten lunch, I ordered a cup. It was a shrimp, crab and corn bisque and what a soup -- I swear the shrimp and crab were fresh; specks of pepper, corn, onion, cilantro and lime comprised the rest of the rich broth.
Other treats to look forward to: The raw oyster bar, fried seafood platters and the fresh catch of the day, and desserts -- not the healthy kind, either: rum raisin crème brulée, key lime pie, sweet potato bread pudding, pecan pie, towering chocolate cake and peanut butter icebox pie.