There's a pot of gumbo waiting for you
Reviewed by Virginia B. Wood, Fri., April 20, 2007
11007 Hwy. 290 E. (in Manor), 512/272-5200
Friday-Saturday, 11am-10pm; Sunday, 11am-8pm
Anyone who has spent much time in Southwest Louisiana's Acadia can tell you that the best examples of regional foods are often found in the most unassuming places. When I walked into the plain frame building that houses Uncle Boudreaux's, I heard zydeco music, saw beer signs and flat-screen TV's on the walls, and, on the tables, soda crackers, Trappey's Pepper Sauce, and Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning. Those things looked like good signs to me. The setting isn't glamorous, but the Cajun/creole food at Uncle Boudreaux's is simple, authentic, and soul-satisfying. While there are as many subtle variations of gumbo and étouffée as there are big Cajun families in Acadia, the Hebert and Boudreaux family recipes served here originated in the Gulf Coast hamlet of Little Chenier, La., and they are the real deal: seafood gumbo in a hearty chocolate-brown roux, elegant crawfish or shrimp-and-crab étouffée in a buttery blond roux, peppery jambalaya chock-full of tender chunks of pork butt, fat crawfish in an aromatic boil, a luxurious custardy bread pudding, and marvelous pecan spice cake soaked in Steen's Pure Cane Syrup, both worthy of the Sunday dinner table in any parish south of I-10. The menu is rounded out with po'boys, fried-seafood platters, and some grilled items, but the reasonably priced traditional Louisiana specialties are the real stars here. Everything is made in-house from scratch except the cayenne-spiked links of pork boudin and the distinctive Louisiana-style French bread that is the basis for the pistolettes, sandwiches, and bread pudding.
Business partners Tony Hebert and Rod Jeter worked together years ago in Austin's high tech world and became cooking, hunting, and fishing buddies. They eventually turned their appreciation for the cuisine of their shared Cajun heritage into a catering business, and finally, a restaurant. Hebert and Jeter have turned a former highway biker bar into a friendly country place where the food is good and guests are welcomed like family. After nearly nine months, weekend traffic is steady, and they've developed attractive promotions such as a popular Texas Hold 'Em tournament on Tuesday nights and a Wednesday ladies night with wine specials to encourage weeknight business. Judging from the TVs and the atmosphere, it's likely to be a popular spot for the New Orleans Saints faithful come football season. The only thing missing is a Daiquiri Hut. There's no reason to wait until fall to try the food at Uncle Boudreaux's, however. There's a pot of gumbo on the stove right now, chère.
*Oops! The following correction ran in our April 27, 2007 issue: In last week's restaurant review of Uncle Boudreaux's, we listed their address as 11007 Hwy. 290 W. The eatery is on Highway 290 East in Manor. We apologize for the error.