Newly relocated on Coursey Boulevard, Willie’s Restaurant is going for bigger, bolder flavors with its food and décor.
As you walk in, Willie’s makes a weird first impression. It seems like the restaurant hasn’t grown into its new space. The ambiance seems confused. As you approach the small desk where the hostess is, you feel like you’re in “Alice in Wonderland.”
The ceilings are super high, and the ivory walls are sparse. However, the bar area is beautiful with rustic beams and artfully arranged liquor bottles along the wall.
With booths, bar seating and traditional tables to get a view of the multiple large-screen TVs, Willie’s was packed when we visited. And while the décor was a little off, the wait staff and food wasn’t.
Our table quickly noticed several menu items that included the restaurant’s house pao sauce, which tastes like a mix of Italian dressing, garlic and sugar.
On its own, the sauce was a little too sweet. However, it worked well when mixed with the bountiful serving of fried crawfish on the Pao Crawfish appetizer ($11).
We also ordered the fried green tomatoes ($12). The five crisp tomatoes slices had just enough breading and were well-seasoned with a bite. The creaminess of the au gratin sauce cut the spice considerably. The crab meat didn’t stand out, but this dish was so good it didn’t need that extra ingredient.
For one entrée, we ordered the Shrimp and Grits ($17). The menu said the creamy grits were topped with a Chardonnay cream reduction sauce, but we tasted Worcestershire sauce and butter and loved it.
The Seafood Potato ($15) was an enormous potato covered with a mix of cream cheese, shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack, melted until the edges were a little crispy. Truly, the cooks were feeling that this dish was too simple because then they covered the potato with sauteed crawfish tails, Gulf shrimp, onions, and bell peppers.
Completely decedent (for carb watchers) and so big and wonderful, this could easily be shared by two.
The Beauregard ($17) featured a large portion of southern fried fish that was almost too salty. The fish is topped with sauteed crawfish tails and a cream bisque sauce that cut down on the saltiness. However, the sauce lacked flavor, and didn’t enhance the dish.
If you love creamy dishes, you’ll love the Redfish Ryn ($19).
Well-seasoned blackened redfish topped with lump crabmeat swim in a luscious, super rich au gratin sauce that’s served hot in a cast-iron dish. This was mouth-watering.
We tried two desserts and both were tasty, though our favorite was the Cajun Donuts ($4). The two large donuts resembled beignets and looked light and fluffy, but we were pleasantly pleased to find them dense and delicious. Served hot atop a white chocolate sauce and dusted with cinnamon, these were a delight to all the senses.
The strawberry cheesecake ($4) with a graham cracker crust was just dense enough, topped with sliced fresh strawberries and a light strawberry sauce around the base of the plate with a dollop of whipped cream. Our cheesecake lover approved.
Questions about interior design seemed to fade after such a delicious meal, and the restaurant gets extra applause for serving only local brews on tap.