What I Ordered
Review By: Elizabeth Walle –
I lived in New Orleans for an all-too-brief period a few years ago, and I was lucky enough to have a native Louisianan and aspiring chef for a housemate, who would often cook up his own version of local dishes to share. So it was with a small sense of superiority and some trepidation that I entered Bayou Bob’s, Denver’s (only?) spot for Cajun/Creole seafood dining. Now, I know that it is common practice to fly one’s ingredients in from all over the world these days, but a seafood joint in land-locked Colorado is suspect on my list. Fellow Denver residents often contradict me on this point, but I’ve yet to really enjoy the fruits of the ocean in the mile high city. That little worry and my self-righteousness notwithstanding, I felt optimistic when I entered the restaurant: it was dark, unpretentious, and there was some good ole Dr. John playing in the background. Sure, there were a few too many Mardi Gras decorations strewn about for my liking, but it got the New Orleans point across.
I ordered the fried alligator tail to start, which was fine enough but completely unremarkable, whether paired with remoulade or tartar sauce. For my entrée, I went with blackened catfish smothered with crawfish étouffée. It wasn’t bad; I finished the dish, but even with my discerning palate, I’m more likely to do that than not. The flavors were kind of muddled, and overwhelmed by and unpleasant fishiness. It struck me, as I washed my forkfuls down with Coors Light, that this could be any tourist joint in the French Quarter—a little music to set the tone, some purple green and gold, mediocre food, good drink specials ($2.50 hurricanes-if only I hadn’t had to go back to work after the meal) and all the frat boys wearing “show me your tits” t-shirts leave happy. Or at least drunk. But with no New Orleans to add charm to the experience, and no open-container law to delight young collegiates, it felt like a hollow reference. I did like the side dishes–my favorite part of the meal was the little fried cornbread ball that accompanied it. The Acadian beans, cooked up with lots of bacon, were also pretty nice, if a little watery.
My general feeling when I left was that my meal wasn’t worth the price. But the atmosphere was laid back and the service was friendly, and I could see myself ordering a hurricane or two in the future, if I happened to be in the neighborhood. I know this is a popular spot to watch Saints games, so maybe my next visit will be during football season.