Thursday, June 2, 2011

Parrain's Seafood - Baton Rouge

My dad and I were on the road to Houston but there was something different about this trip. For one thing, it felt odd to be attending my cousin’s high school graduation, especially when I can vividly remember his days in a car seat. More relevant to this website, it was lunchtime and I had already driven past Hammond. For years, it’s been a natural reflex, if you drive past Hammond, you will stop at Trey Yuen. It doesn’t matter that you’re one the way to New Orleans for dinner. It doesn’t matter that you’re on the way to Houston to eat much better Chinese food. It doesn’t matter if the restaurant doesn’t open for another hour, you will sit in the parking lot and wait. I suppose that is the undeniable pull of crawfish in lobster sauce, but this trip is the exception.

With my watching reading a little past noon, we pulled off I-10 and pulled into the parking lot at Parrain’s Seafood. I’m not exactly sure how Parrain’s made it on my list of places to try in Baton Rouge. Maybe it was recommended to me during idle conversation at trade show but the more likely scenario is that one of the fellows at Blackened Out made the suggestion. Regardless of the origin, this restaurant was packed or at least the parking lot was full. After waiting futilely for a spot to open, we eventually found parking that wasn’t guarded by a tow away sign and went inside the expansive wooden building.

Parrain’s was certainly busy inside, but the number of available parking spots belied the number of open tables. However, any worry about parking was soon forgotten as we were shown our seats. Once I opened the Parrain’s menu, it read like a Louisiana greatest hits track list: po-boys, boudin balls, gumbo, oysters, and all manners of fried seafood, everything was there. It was really a matter of knowing where to start.

Even though almost every one of the specialties was enticing, I had to pass. With nearly every specialty covered in a butter or cream sauce, it was a recipe for disaster. What I needed was a hotel room after this meal, not another 4 hours of driving. We decided to compromise and stick to the appetizer section of the menu. The idea was we could sample a nice variety of dishes but not be weighed down with heavy cream; at least that was our intention.

As with many meals in Louisiana, this one started with a cup of gumbo.
This gumbo may not win any awards but it was a solid beginning to the meal.
Each spoonful was rich with seafood, complete with not too overcooked shrimp, oysters, and that big piece of crab.
All in all, there was a decent depth of flavor to this gumbo and a pleasant level of spiciness, not too shabby.

Despite dining in a month without an ‘R’, we just couldn’t turn down a dozen oysters beginning with a half dozen chargrilled.
I firmly believe that gulf oysters are best when cooked and this is no exception.
Coated with cheese, garlic, and a few herbs, these oysters were undeniably rich. Just cooked, each oyster still had a lip smacking juiciness that was only accentuated by the melted cheese and garlic.

Making up the second half of our dozen oysters were six on the half shell.
Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of gulf oysters on the half shell. I prefer small, briny bivalves like a kumamoto or an Apalachicola, but as far as gulf oysters go, these were a fine example of the breed.

For years, I’ve associated boudin balls with Baton Rouge. Maybe that’s due to my Uncle. Every time he paid a visit, he brought a small mountain of fresh and frozen boudin balls from Tony’s Seafood. Always a fan of fried boudin, I knew that ordering Parrain’s boudin balls was a forgone conclusion.
It seems like everyone in Louisiana has his or her own take on boudin and Parrain’s is no exception. With a thin, crispy crust, things started well but I surprised at the lack of spiciness.
While an upfront spicy flavor isn’t entirely necessary for a good boudin ball, I was more interested in the odd earthy flavor these boudin balls had. Maybe there was more liver or other offal than I’m used to, but Parrain’s still makes a pretty fair boudin ball. I still think Tony’s makes the best in Baton Rouge, but Parrain’s does a decent job with it.

Even with our attempts at moderation, it’s obvious that a lot of food was consumed under the wooden roof of Parrain’s Seafood. For the most part, it was all quite pleasant. I wouldn’t make a special trip from Jackson just to eat at Parrain’s, but it was a nice respite from the interstate. Of course, I left a large portion of the menu untouched, but I’m afraid Parrain’s fried seafood and specialties will have to wait until next time.

Parrain’s Seafood Address & Information
Parrain's Seafood on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

A Fare Critique said...

Very nice review. Well written and the pics are a nice touch. This place as you know has much more to offer than what you sampled and it is definitely worth coming back to.