Sunday, April 22, 2012

Blue's Bayou

Address: 899 Marchant Road (Brentwood Bay)
Phone: (250) 544-1194
Price: $15-25 for an entree
Notes: Cajun style cooking, stunning setting.

Blue's Bayou is pretty far off the beaten track in Brentwood Bay, hidden down below the road leading to the marina. The restaurant is pretty much on the water, and no matter where you are seated in the dining room or on the massive patio you have a stunning view of the harbour. In the summer their patio would be the best place to watch the sun go down with a pitcher of something cold and wet.

Full disclosure: I have really enjoyed the Cajun-style cuisine I have tried, but to be completely honest the closest thing I've had to supposedly 'authentic' New Orleans food was in the French Quarter of um, Disneyland. That being said - I did love the ambiance of the Blue Bayou restaurant [the Disney one], and was kind of oddly nostalgic for it so I was really excited to discover that we had a similar-sounding place here.

The menu is incredibly small, but I suspect the kitchen is too, especially given the size of the restaurant overall. I would estimate it seats 25 inside at absolute capacity, although their patio is at least 1.5 times that again. In order to squeeze everything in, the bathrooms are actually outside! At lunch time there is a selection of sandwiches, and at dinner there are additional entree options. There are a handful of appetizers, and a teeny-weeny drinks menu (I was totally craving a bourbon cocktail after my Jambalaya but the cocktails on the list were... weird. Yes, I have become a cocktail snob. I'm sorry! I blame Clive's).

The decor is epic, and I do not use that word lightly. Every single square inch of wall space has some kind of New Orleans kitsch. Masks galore, cauldron lights, post cards, posters, voodoo dolls, a Bubba Gump Shrimp glass and even a framed package of Zatarain's New Orlean's style dirty rice mix (?).  It's cute, and I liked it, but when combined with the paper napkins, chili table cloths and glass leaf plates that might have been bought at the estate sale of my dearly departed grandmother... it wasn't quite the right packaging for the pricing on the menu. Independently, neither of these things were bad - the food quality and service matched the prices. I acknowledge that a) I am not their target market and b) they are in "the village of Brentwood Bay," not downtown.

April 21, 2012
Crab Cakes
This was more of a salad than anything, which was not quite what I was expecting but on further inspection I just didn't read the description very closely! They came with a whole crawfish on the side - we weren't sure if that was meant to be part of the dish or just a garnish so we left the wee thing intact. The cakes themselves were very southern-style in that they were coated in cornmeal and pan-fried. Although they aren't my favourite crab cake ever, they were certainly packed with crab meat and flavour. The mayo on top was really the best part - thick and creamy with loads of garlic flavour.

Despite mocking the framed Zatarain's packaging, their Jambalaya (or a from scratch version) is on our regular rotation at home as a quick, tasty and filling dish. This version was not that far off what we usually put together at home, but did have a bit more complexity to the sauce, which is nice because it's often too acidic tasting from the tomatoes when we make it. The key to the flavour is definitely in the andouille sausage! I've had a tough time finding this style of sausage in Victoria, so I think that's why it stood out. Initially, I did find the sauce a bit less spicy than my spice-tacular preference, but a bit of their house hot sauce fixed that up pretty quickly. I am very glad I opted for the small size of dish, as the amount served was exactly perfect, despite being hungry upon arrival.

Catfish Special
This was the choice of my partner-in-food-and-life. They have a fish of the day, at market value, with a horseradish sauce, a side of vegetables and the choice of either potatoes or a beans and rice mix. The sauce on the fish was quite lovely. Not overpoweringly horseradishy, but still really flavourful. The side of beans and rice was smaller than we had anticipated, and more like a soup than the dryer beans and rice you get with tex-mex. The veggies were the weakest part - tasty, but a bit plain for a $24 meal.

April 21, 2012
The service was quite attentive, formal and friendly. The two staff members were both quite young [or maybe I am just getting old...] but clearly very responsible and took pride in their work. The restaurant was pretty packed for 8pm, but they handled it well, even clearing the patio tables between serving customers.