Dwight’s in Lafayette, an establishment that began as a grocery store roughly twenty years ago and is now a packed restaurant most nights of the week, was my first stop. Our party of five arrived at the early hour of 6:00 pm on Saturday night and found one spot in the parking lot, and already a one hour wait for a table. Dwight’s defines basic, nothing fancy here, but the boiled crawfish speaks up for the austere surroundings. In a boil and peel place like this, there is no looking for anything other than perfectly spiced “crawdad’s.” We each put in an order for five pounds of boiled crawfish at $5.00 a pound (an excellent price), and talked and laughed in the midst of swigs of cold beer, and peeling and eating. There is a certain rhythm and method to the process, and with a restaurant full of locals, the pace is fast and furious in an effort to get to the bottom before the cooked crawfish begin to cool. “Nothing is sweeter tasting than early spring crawfish”, as my brother said when we all finished.
Brunch on Sunday was at Cochon (“the pig” in French). A sister to the restaurant of the same name in New Orleans, and recently opened, with a modern decor and overlooking the Vermilion River, it was a perfect choice after a night of beer and crawfish. Dressed up from the jeans we all wore the night before, cocktails of blood orange mimosa’s and bloody mary’s (hands down the best I have ever tasted) were the first order up. Next, the appetizers: “boudin noir with grits, peppers & onions, sunny side up quail egg”, and “wood-fired oyster roast” which, according to Miss Julie, an elegant 83-year old local whose home where she was born is now where City Hall sits, “could have done with a little more marsh air.” Then, to follow, grits, black pepper biscuits, and bacon (of course, in a restaurant named Cochon!) as sides, with our main courses of “grilled pork loin & poached eggs with jalapeño crawfish butter”, “corn meal crusted catfish, white bean cassoulet and herb chile rice”, and “pain perdu (“lost bread”, a French speciality) with strawberry syrup, candied pecans, Nola rum whipped cream” for something sweet to balance it all out.
What did Dorothy say in the Wizard of Oz? “There’s no place like home.”