Sometimes eating out is about sustenance, and sometimes it’s the night’s main event. Our party enjoyed the latter recently at Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro in Lafayette. Elegant yet relaxed, we enjoyed good food and good conversation with charming service.
The doors of the spacious dining area open up to the view of a beautiful dark wood bar directly across the room with white-clothed tables on either side and chandeliers above. A fireplace on one end, a little alcove seating area on the other and a beautiful spiral wooden staircase leading up to additional seating added architectural interest. The spacing between tables was perfect and we enjoyed viewing the late artist George Rodrigue’s paintings of Cajun life of long ago along the walls.
Our server brought out a scrumptious amuse-bouche from the chef not long after we settled into our seats. A cream cheese spread with a southwestern pico flair on tiny toast squares definitely got our attention. One member of our party liked it so much she wanted to know if it was on any of the menu items — it wasn’t, but that didn’t prove to be a problem.
We shared a serving of six roasted oysters ($15) for starters. Jolie’s offers three versions and we tried two of each. Artfully served on a rectangular platter atop a bed of rock salt, The B ienville and Rockefeller were both good traditional offerings but most of us liked the Jolie even better. Moist and seasoned with roasted corn, shrimp and andouille, this mix with the oyster was just delicious. A special that night offered flounder for two stuffed with this same mixture which was very tempting, but we’ll have to try that another time.
We also ordered the crab cakes ($12) to share and really recommend this choice. Plump and full of moist crab meat with minimal breading inside, the cakes had a crunchy exterior topped with a mild remoulade sauce and pickled shallots. Combined, this made a really good bite.
After the appetizers the waiter brought out a loaf of hot ciabbata bread with a sage strawberry butter that was very good but hard to spread. Perhaps if the butter was at room temperature it would have been easier.
Our entrees didn’t arrive at the same time and waiting for the fourth caused the other dishes, the soup in particular, to lose some of their warmth. That said, the cioppino stew ($20) was still a delight. The garlicky tomato-based fish soup was well seasoned and full of large shrimp, mussels, fish and baby scallops. Topped with a grilled baguette drizzled with pesto, this dish is a perfect cold-weather choice.
The delayed dish (and it was a very short wait) was indeed served piping hot and quite pleasing. The Zapp’s Crawtator crusted drum ($23) has the fish coated in a crushed potato chip base and then fried and topped with a crawfish cream sauce. The fish was crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside and had just enough of the spicy chip taste. This came with a side of mac and cheese made with smoked Gouda which was top notch.
We also tried the redfish Lafreniere ($25), a large serving of fish with a delicious delicate sauce of white wine and butter. The fish was topped with shrimp and crabmeat, but we thought the seafood would be in a cream sauce. We would probably not order this on a return trip. We would however order the sweet cream corn grits we had on the side every time. Delicious comfort food, this hit the spot.
We also tried the market vegetable, roasted Brussels sprouts ($5) and these fresh, small halved sprouts were roasted just right.
Our fourth entree was the 8-ounce filet ($32) with Bordelaise sauce and it was fabulous. Totally tender and juicy with a touch of the wine-based sauce and topped with fresh peppery arugula this couldn’t have been any better. It was served with rich and creamy duck fat mashed potatoes which were a perfect complement.
The desserts were just as good. The fig and brandy sauce cobbler ($9) was outstanding. The warm crust with the tender figs and brandy sauce were topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and each bite was a treat.
We also really liked the grown up s’mores ($9), gooey melted chocolate with bits of a graham cracker mixture stirred in and topped with a marshmallow sauce served warm in a ramekin. Delicious.
With a nod to the season, we had the sweet potato bread pudding ($9) and really enjoyed the light fall dessert as well.
A very appealing restaurant, Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro is a great destination for a special meal or just a cocktail at the bar.