It is amazing to me how driving through some random hamlet on the highway that one sometimes finds oneself right back in that same town later down the road of life. Monroe, Louisiana sits astride Interstate I-20 halfway between Shreveport and Vicksburg, Mississippi and about five hours from my home in Dallas, Texas. It's too big to blink and miss but only just. My father and I stopped for dinner at the Cracker Barrel in West Monroe on the drive from Maryland to Texas a little over two years before but on this occasion I was in town on business and wanted to try some local establishments.
Near the office on 18th Street and Tower is "Boudreaux's" which my co-worker and I noticed heading in that morning and had received rave reviews from locals and other out-of-town co-workers alike. Despite the strong recommendations our first disappointment was in simply trying to go there for lunch on a Tuesday. They were closed the first three days of the week, we discovered so made plans to try again Thursday night for dinner which was our last scheduled evening in town. Nice way to wrap up an enjoyable trip to this previously unexplored part of Louisiana.
It took a few ticks to notice the signing inviting us to seat ourselves as the pay-at-the-door cashier was working a healthy line of sated diners on the way out. Where some might consider Dallas laid back compared to cities up North, I began to wonder how laid back things were in Northern Louisiana. It took a bit longer than I was used to, including two stops at the table by the now free cashier, to finally have our waitress for the evening make her first appearance for drink orders. Sweet tea, of course, but hmmmm. We perused the two-sided laminated menu for their offerings but both pretty much knew what we wanted and merely skimmed the choices to make sure ours would be on the list.
Despite offering fried alligator as an appetizer my co-worker and I went with two orders of the "Cajun Sampler" which offered a plate of three choices and bread. I was on the watch by now to see if there was any delay in receiving our order but it appeared quickly enough at the table, plate hot and heavily ladled. Red beans and rice, dirty rice and jambalaya, plate hot and generously portioned and there all the good pretty much came to an end.
The red beans, including andouille sausage, had almost no flavor to speak of while it was harder to tell if the dirty rice or the jambalaya was the most dry. The latter specifically looked more like it was from yesterday's batch instead of simply having been under the warmer too long. Of the three selections on my co-worker's plate the crawfish etouffee was the most disappointing which was the death knell for "Boudreaux's" as far as a return visit was concerned: that was the dish she had been most anxious to try.
Another long line to cash out awaited me while the co-worker went outside for a smoke after dinner. We both agreed, sadly, that "Boudreaux's," if they weren't serving lefteauxvers were at least eauxver-rated.