Voodoo Bayou

Voodoo Bayou is a great addition to restaurant row. The cool vibe and extensive drink menu is sure to be a hit with the evening crowd, but we went for lunch.

It was opening day (we were customer number two!) and the place was already running like clockwork.

The dinner prices are reasonable for dinner, but it’s nice that they have a lunch time “pick two” special for $15. I chose the gumbo appetizer and blackened shrimp po’boy sandwich. Both were authentic and tasty. I appreciated that they plunked down the Louisiana hot sauce right at the start of the meal!

I miss all the Cajun places we used to have back in the 90’s, so it’s great to have a really nice one to go to now.

I’m even more excited by the Asian small plate speak easy (reservation only) hidden off the foyer. That’s right up my alley, and I’ll be checking it out soon.


The Big Easy – Windermere


Seafood sampler

Cajun crab dip

Cajun shrimp salad

Shrimp etoufee


**** (4 stars)

I’ve always enjoyed the original Big Easy near Stoneybrook, so I was looking forward to this new location. It occupies the spot that was previously several failed Italian restaurants, and so far it seems much more successful. I was pleased to see they’ve fixed many of the lighting and layout problems of the previous occupants.

The food seems pretty much the same as at the other location. We enjoyed everything we tried, including the crab dip, seafood sampler appetizer, etoufee and cajun shrimp salad.

For non-Cajun enthusiasts there are also plenty of other choices.

We were originally seated next to an obnoxious woman and her bratty kids, so we moved outside to the delightful, large patio.

There’s a nice cocktail list.

Service was very good.

The Big Easy – Windermere
7782 Winter Garden Vineland Rd
Ste 140
Windermere, FL 34786
(407) 347-3688

Hot N Juicy Crawfish


Crawfish sandwich

1lb crawfish




*** (3 stars)

This place is well-named, as the food was certainly hot and juicy. Not surprisingly, it’s also a mess. You know you’re in for a participatory meal when your table is equipped with bibs, gloves and a bucket!

We shared a pound of crawfish for $14. It comes in a tied plastic bag, swimming in sauce. That’s a reasonable price, but you need to realize that equates to only a few tablespoons of actual crawfish meat. We had the hot n juicy sauce, which was pretty good, but be cautious of the spiciness level. We ordered medium, and it equated to HOT most places.

We also had the cajun fries, which were crisp, hot and well-seasoned.

Our companions had the crawfish po boy sandwiches, which were a lot easier and neater, as the crawfish meat was deep fried.

Service was friendly and helpful.

Hot N Juicy Crawfish
7572 W Sand Lake Rd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 370-4655

Oak Alley Plantation Restaurant

**** (4 stars)

This is an unexpectedly good restaurant, much better than one expects at a tourist attraction. The food is authentic, diverse, and well-prepared. And the service is gracious and attentive.

I particularly enjoyed the shrimp poboy, which was better than any of the cajun lunch foods I had during the week in New Orleans.

If you’re planning a visit to Oak Alley Plantation, I encourage you to make time for lunch at the fine establishment.

Oak Alley Plantation Restaurant
3645 Hwy 18
Vacherie, LA 70090
(225) 265-2487

Emeril’s New Orleans

***** (5 stars)

Coming from Orlando, I’ve eaten at Emeril’s at Citywalk many times, so we wanted to check out the original while in New Orleans. We stopped in for lunch, and I have to say that in all respects I found it superior to the Orlando version. The space is smaller, more nicely decorated, the acoustics are better, the food was perfectly prepared, and the service was extremely gracious.

The barbecue shrimp is a favorite appetizer, but the mini lettuce wrap taco concoctions are my new favorite. Duck wings were mighty sticky! The glazed salmon entree was great.

I would definitely go out of my way to return to this original location on future visits.

Emeril’s New Orleans
800 Tchoupitoulas St
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 528-9393

Restaurant R’evolution

***** (5 stars)

This was our best meal in New Orleans, one of those magical evenings where everything comes together to create perfection.

R’evolution is a sprawling space in the Sonesta Hotel. Each room is decorated differently, and has a different ambience. While all of them looked great, most were very energetic, so I was happy we were seated in the more refined Bienville room.

All of the food we had was great, but I was particularly impressed by my selections. The foie gras mousses was served in a jar accompanied by toast, pickled vegetables, and four condiments, all for the ridiculously low price of $6. Quail three ways was stunning. Each quail was completely different, and all were deboned to make them easy to eat.

The 10,000 bottle wine list is full of gems, and some are at reasonable price points. There is also a dessert beverage cart with some really interesting offerings. We couldn’t pass up the 1907 Madeira, a Malvasia which might be the best Madeira I’ve had, which is saying a lot.

A tour of the restaurant and kitchen afterwards was the perfect way to end a perfect meal.

Restaurant R’evolution
777 Bienville St
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 553-2277

Commander’s Palace

*** (3 stars)

This century old establishment is still doing things the same way they always have. The sprawling dining rooms cover much of the block, with the nicest rooms upstairs, and the least nice through the kitchen and across the enclosed patio.

We began with the soup sampler, a nice way to get a reasonable size sampling of their famous turtle soup, the best of the three. (No turtle is used in the soup.)

Entrees were less impressive. My giant lamb rack was nicely crusted and cooked, but may have been the toughest lamb I’ve ever had.

Desserts also seemed pretty run of the mill.

The wine list is designed to impress, and it certainly impressed the Wine Spectator, who awarded it the stamp of Excellence. Unfortunately the prices seem designed to avoid depleting inventory. While there are 60 wines at under $60 featured at the front of the menu, and there are plenty of prestige bottles at $400 and up, there are surprisingly few gems in the range in between, making it a difficult list.

Service was definitely a well-oiled machine, although like a machine it seemed a bit mechanical. Perhaps that’s the only way to cope with so many tables.

Commander’s Palace
1403 Washington Ave
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 899-8221

The Big Easy

**** (4 stars)

The Big Easy offers fairly authentic New Orleans style food in a convivial, neighborhood sports bar-like atmosphere. The emphasis is on fried food, including shrimp, crawfish and oysters, which can be ordered as an appetizer or in a po’boy sandwich.

We enjoyed the mixed seafood appetizer and the fried pickles, but my favorite was the Mufaletta sandwich, as good as any I’ve had in New Orleans. The ham was tender and generous, the olive spread appropriately tangy, and the bread had the perfect crusty consistency. The sandwich was accompanied by some great battered fries, served piping hot.

There are also entrees such as Étouffée and Jambalaya and blackened redfish. I found the flavors of the Étouffée and Jambalaya a bit too similar.

Service was a real standout. A single waitress handled the whole room, and was more efficient than three people might have been. She kept our drinks refilled, checked back often, and made the whole experience a very pleasant one.

The Big Easy
15502 Stoneybrook W Pkwy
Ste 120
Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 654-3279

Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen

**** (4 stars)

I like the decor and service here very much. You can sense the Tijuana Flats influence, but it’s definitely a sit-down restaurant. I’ve tried quite a few of the items here, and haven’t yet found the thing that transports me back to New Orleans. That said, the food is good, especially the dirty rice. There aren’t many cajun choices in town, and Tibby does a good job of filling the gap.

Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen
2203 Aloma Ave
Winter Park, FL 32792
(407) 672-5753

Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop

**** (4 stars)

Considering the owners are not originally from the South, this is a remarkably authentic dining experience.

I had the lunch special of a half blackened catfish poboy and a cup of gumbo. The catfish was the perfect spiciness, still moist, and not muddy, and the bread was fresh. Gumbo was a tasty, rich mixture, served with the rice separate on one side of the cup, which was an interesting approach. My meal came with a pair of corn meal pancakes rather than muffins, which is a bit unusual, but tasty. At under $7 it was a good buy for lunch.

The unsweetened peach tea was very tasty; it’s hard to find good unsweetened tea in the South. The breakfast items and salads I saw also looked good.

I love the funky atmosphere. The space is decked out like a bait shop, and red checkered plastic tablecloths brighten things up. There are also four tables out on the sidewalk.

Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop
825 Church St
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 733-9030