After asking all of you where to dine for Mardi Gras (thank you everyone!), hubs decided that he wanted to stay local and dine at Mudbugs Cajun Cafe, located in the Carmel Arts District. I was okay with that, because I knew Mudbugs would be serving King Cake. We made our way out to celebrate Fat Tuesday and nosh on some Cajun delights.
Now, I understood that it was Mardi Gras and the restaurant would be busy because of this. But wasn’t expecting for the line to extend from the counter to the side walk. By the time hubs and I approached the counter (easily 15 minutes – but it wasn’t a problem at all) some counter seats opened up. Hubs grabbed us a seat and I waited another minute to order our food. That was when I discovered the crawfish casserole was sold out – sad – I really wanted to try. I quickly selected something else and placed our orders. We both had decided on the “pick 3 combo” which at $9.95, is a sampling of three entrees (can’t select a catfish po’boy, but other po’boys are free game).
The service, despite being busy, was very quick. We didn’t have to wait long before a smiling face brought us our trio’s and order of hush puppies. The hush puppies, which were free because I had received a postcard coupon after my first visit, were crisp and delicious. Subtly sweet, they were deep fried bites of corn nibbles and dough. I love hush puppies; the fried sweetness was perfect with the subtly spicy remoulade sauce that is accompanied with. I believe this is the same remoulade that you receive with a po’boy, which neither my husband or I ordered.
Hubs trio consisted of dirty rice, jambalaya and sausage/chicken gumbo. The gumbo seemed to be your standard gumbo, but this meal also reminded me how gumbo is always just standard to me. I guess I’m not a huge fan of the roux-based stew. It always has a thick bean taste to me, but I know that is the seasonings. However, the sausage had a good bite to them as did the chicken. The dirty rice was a bowl full of beef flavor. Though celery, seasoned ground beef and other vegetables are all cooked into it, the beef stock was the main taste component for me. The jambalaya seemed similar of the dirty rice, but with a few more ingredients. I only had a bite of the dirty rice and jamabalaya – I’m sure there is more to it than what I am saying, so you may as well try for yourself.
I also ordered the gumbo as part of my trio with the shrimp etouffee and chicken courtbouillon. The shrimp etouffee was hands down my favorite of the evening. It was a creamy, thick shrimp stew over a small portion of white rice. Not spicy, but a good seafood flavor – a must order again if you are a shrimp fan. And when I say thick, this stew was thick and delicious with every bite. The chicken courtbouillon was also tasty. A kick more in flavor, probably the spiciest out of three I had (which doesn’t say too much because it really wasn’t overly spicy. If you like spicy, you won’t think it is spicy), the tomato based stew was served over rice as well. Chunks of chicken and veggies were well incorporated – every bite definitely had something to it. Both entrees were served with two pieces of thick, toasted bread. Perfect for scooping up the stews.
And of course, the Mardi Gras treat, King Cake. I love the pastry as previously mentioned, and this one did not disappoint. For $10, we were given our very own soft, doughy pastry that was stuffed with a cinnamon filling. I love cinnamon, thus I was content (okay, ecstatic) with the overly spiced pastry. A little cream cheese would have made this the best yet. Plastic baby was not included.
The thing I loved about every item that we ate was the hearty element. It tasted like home cooking – the kind that sits on the stove all day to get the flavors to marinate together so there is happiness in a bowl (and tummy) when consumed. I’ll definitely go back for more of the shrimp etouffee. Plus, I have to try the crawfish casserole…and the beignets are quite good too. I’ll do the trip again for sure, but throw in a po’boy next time.
Mudbugs Cajun Cafe * 20 W. Main Street * Carmel, 46032 * 317-843-8380