Sunset’s a sleepy little town known around Lafayette for its Southern charm and antique stores. Soon, it might be a mecca for food, thanks to Café Josephine.
Located beneath the Sunset water tower at 818 Napoleon Ave., Café Josephine buys local ingredients and warns customers that dishes will take some time because everything’s fresh. Troy Bijeaux is in the kitchen, and you can spend a little or a lot, depending on your mood. They’re not busy for lunch after 12:30 p.m., and it’s oh-so-worth the drive.
There are bistro booths, four-tops and a large open bar, all under a low ceiling that attracts rich urban bikers and businessmen alike.
Starters feature clever variations on the routine, such as crawfish or crab nachos ($12-$15), crabmeat-stuffed eggrolls ($13) and traditional wings (6 for $6.99 or 12 for $11.99).
For the sides, Eggplant Fries are a fun must-have ($3.99 for small, $6.99 large). And once you’ve tasted roasted corn grits, you will be done with the regular variety for good. Café Josephine’s are spicy and contain corn and red peppers. The flavor beats what I’ve had in Lafayette.
Overall, the restaurant offers a mix of fine and casual dining with its entrées.
In our group, the main course selection is a toss-up between chicken fried steak ($17.99) and the braised short ribs ($19.99), because either one will show if a chef can cook from the heartland or just follow the herd.
Chicken fried steak with white gravy is an art form in Oklahoma, and beef short ribs have been a lifelong comfort food. It’s dishes like these that allow Bijeaux to walk the line between fine and casual, which is where he’s comfortable.
Bijeaux shows his previous meat market roots with an off-the-menu tomahawk ribeye, 32 ounces of lethal steak with the entire rib bone still intact, giving it the appearance of a tomahawk (price upon request).
We settle for Firecracker Tacos filled with filet mignon, marinated in chili garlic sauce, seared and topped with slaw and onion relish ($11.99), tuna tacos stuffed with rare seared tuna, sriracha, mayo, pepper jelly and spicy slaw ($15.99), and the braised short ribs with garlic mashed potatoes, along with a glass of Kitchen Sink from California, small lots blended together including petite syrah, merlot, cabernet and others ($7 a glass).
The short ribs are all Bijeaux leads you to believe they will be. The portions are generous (we took food home). All I can say is I tried desperately to make it until lunch the next day but surrendered by half-past nine.