Monday, December 5, 2011

Bienvenue To the Neighborhood Bistro

Good. Real good.
Three simple words make up the French bistro’s motto. 
Bistro Byronz lets its food speak for itself. The restaurant on 5412 Government St. is serving Baton Rouge some of its French heritage between two pillowy buns with a side of Louisiana flavors. 
The restaurant lives in a quaint cafe-au-lait colored building faced with black-trimmed French windows. The canopy above the entrance doors begs for visitors to stop by for a treat.
White eye-catching globe lights. Creaking wood floors, tables and chairs. Vanilla ice cream-colored tiled walls with black crown molding.
The coziness induces the urge to mingle for hours.
Sit down, get comfortable and prioritize. The first step is ordering a heaping plate of bleu-cheese chips. The stack of home-made chips coated in a bleu cheese veloute sauce and crumbles will make you excited to taste the rest of the meal. Bleu cheese isn’t my buddy, but I’m ready to bust out the best friend bracelets for this tantalizing appetizer. 
Once you’re done licking your fingers, gaze at the menu and prepare yourself for the maybe-I’ll-get-this’s and the but-this-looks-amazing’s. 
Prior to my first visit to Byronz, I scanned the online menu and was set on ordering the almond and cranberry chicken salad sandwich, but being the debris-style-sandwich junkie that I am, my stomach was quickly swayed by the bistro’s debris sandwich served with mashed potatoes and gravy.
Tender hand-picked pot roast is sandwiched between two grainy cushions and slathered with a trio of cheese. I followed my waiter’s guidance and substituted the mashed potatoes for sweet potatoes soaked in a brown sugar reduction. The salty bun sponged with the potatoes‘ sweet sauce combined with the juicy homestyle roast and cheesy triumvirate makes the sandwich more of an experience than food. 
Burgers like the Beaucoup Burger and Byronz Burger are another strong-point of the bistro. The two-hand Beaucoup Burger is topped with bleu cheese or mixed cheese drizzle, spinach leaves, fat tomato slices and Byronz’s skinny frites. The patty, blanketed in a generous amount of cheese, has an excellent grilled flavor, and the twig-like fries are addictive.
Bistro Byronz has separate dinner and lunch menus that offer various other $10 to $15 dishes including soups like sweet corn and crab, soul entrees like Abita root beer pork chops and hamburger steak, and salads like the Asian-infused Wasabi Chicken Salad, which my mom claims is the “best salad she’s ever had.” A limited brunch menu is also available for early-risers. 
After indulging, you’ll be incapacitated by the flavorful food, casual conversation, 1920s French bistro atmosphere and maybe a few glasses of wine. Stomach stuffed. Mood elated. 
By the time you walk out the doors, you’ll understand Bistro Byronz's motto and probably be muttering it as you rub your belly. Good. Real good.
Visit Bistro Byronz on Government Street and at

Byronz's Debris Sandwich with mashed sweet potatoes

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Foodie Turned Cheese Addict

It starts with a caliente karate kick of flavor to the taste-buds.

The complimentary pilot dish of sassy scarlet salsa riding on a sun-golden chip is a sure sign of the meal ahead. 
Mestizo at 2323 Acadian Thruway is serving up some of the best Americanized Mexican cuisine the Red Stick has to offer. From beef con queso to bean-stuffed burritos, the cantina has all your Spanish desires.
The restaurant’s chips and salsa are good, but it’s creamy queso served in a miniature pot with chives and tomato wedges is better. The cheese concoction is offered with a choice of chili, beef, shrimp and crab, or crawfish and spinach. 
The first time I visited Mestizo the waitress bragged about the place’s cheese, and she could not have been more right. Along with the deep flavors of the queso, the grated cheese that is served on dishes like the tacos and the melted cheese served with the quesadillas will leave you in a dairy daze. The oral memory of the cheese opens the floodgates of saliva in my mouth.
Quesadillas and tacos are two of my favorite eats, and Mestizo has ruined both dishes for me. It spoiled them in a positive way, however, because no others in Baton Rouge will be up to par.
The quesadillas, like all of Mestizo’s dishes, are presented in a tasteful arrangement with a centerpiece of guacamole, sour cream, lettuce strips, chives and soft, scrumptious cheese. Droplets of flavor drip from the triangle of gooey cheese, flour tortilla and a choice of chicken, steak, veggies or shrimp and crab.
For me, the steak prevails in this protein battle. The meat is cooked to a perfect tenderness while leaving the exterior with a crispy glaze of brilliant flavor.
The ground beef tacos at Mestizo are a grand-slam. If purchased a la carte, they are only $3 per taco and served with lettuce, tomatoes and cheese, and they are some of the prettiest and stomach-satisfying tacos I’ve ever enjoyed. The hard shell doesn’t crumble and it’s stuffed with ingredients.
Mestizo also offers burritos, fajitas, Mexican stir fry, and a number of pricier entrees like chicken, beef, or shrimp and crab enchiladas, chicken chimichangas, and a skirt steak all served with guacamole salads. 
Guacamole is another small gem, like the cheese, that Mestizo should gloat about. I am usually not a guacamole eater, but I was converted by my girlfriend who demanded I tried Mestizo’s. The first word that comes to mind is “fresh,” which, especially concerning Mexican cuisine, is always an upside.
Mestizo offers a decent selection of domestic and Mexican beer like Dos Equis and Corona, but you cannot dine and leave without slurping down a margarita -- particularly, the mango margarita. 
The restaurant has a delectable variety of margarita flavors like strawberry, raspberry, sangria and pomegranate, but the mango is the king of the frozen alcoholic beverage castle. One could visit Mestizo to only sip on a few margaritas and devour a couple of rounds of chips and salsa and leave as one happy customer. 
With its dimmed lighting, relaxed environment, modern decor and homey feeling, Mestizos is a prime establishment to chow down with friends, family or a special someone you’re trying to impress, but be warned. As soon as you walk out the door, you’ll be craving its Mexican goodness until the next time you visit.
Ground beef tacos with a side of sour cream

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I Like My Sandwich How I Like My Women: Hot and Cheesy

Provolone? American? Pepper jack? Mozzarella? Or maybe cheese whiz?
Life is rough when the most taxing decision of the day is what cheese to smother your cheesesteak with. South of Philly at 4353 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd. deserves all the thanks for the stomach-dividing choice.
Fortunately and unfortunately, that’s not the last loaded question the cheesesteak joint throws on the grill. 
Do I want steak or chicken between the Amorosa bun? To guzzle down a Guinness or Newcastle? French fries or onion rings?
Thankfully, at South of Philly there are no wrong answers.
What the poboy represents for the South, the cheesesteak does for Philadelphia, and South of Philly does the sandwich justice. 
Stringy, melted cheese forms a flimsy bridge between mouth and bread. Juices drip from the frizzled ribeye, dirtying fingers that should only be cleaned by licking.
The phillies are served “wit or witout onions,” a choice of five delectable cheeses and a variety of complimentary toppings such as A1 steak sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes mushrooms, banana peppers, jalapenos and grilled peppers. 
My cheesesteak preference consists of the classic steak, provolone, grilled onions and a squirt of mustard and mayonnaise. The gooey cheese teams up with the well-seasoned meat and condiments to make a superfood team of deliciousness.
Thinking about the simple, yet palatable, concoction forces saliva to flow like Niagara Falls in my mouth. 
A stand-alone Philly is satisfying enough, but why not indulge? South of Philly’s appetizers are just as enjoyable as its sandwiches. 
The french fries and onion rings, which are served in generous proportions, triumph in the battle of starters. The hand-cut fries are cooked to a perfect consistency between soggy and crunchy and are some of the best in Baton Rouge. The crispy onion rings are served as exceptionally seasoned, manageable-sized hoops.
South of Philly doesn’t exclusively serve cheesesteaks. Chicken, shrimp, roast beef, hot ham-n-cheese and french dip poboys are offered, as well as salads and built-to-your-request burgers grilled on the flat top. 
The restaurant’s attempts at customer satisfaction don’t end with its flavors; it offers food specials as well. Children eat free on Tuesday and a different $5.99 combo served with fries and a drink is featured on each weekday. 
Feeling like a bum? South of Philly delivers and provides drive-thru ordering for those craving ultimate comfort along with yummy food.
There is a downside to driving through or placing an order for delivery and that’s missing out on South of Philly’s selection of draft and bottled beers like Abita Amber, Guinness, Newcastle, Red Stripe, Michelob Ultra and a handful more. 
South of Philly also serves its modestly priced food at locations in Prairieville and Gonzales.
Put away the suitcase, cancel the hotel reservation and hold the plane tickets. There’s no longer a need to travel cross-country to satisfy the overwhelming craving for a bite of Philadelphia’s best. Just pack your biggest appetite and roll over to South of Philly.  
Onions rings and cheesesteak with provolone

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happiness is a Warm Brisket

There is something special about biting in to the combination of a slippery green dill pickle, strong white onion and slow-cooked pulled pork.

Cou-Yon's Bar-B-Q knows exactly what I am talking about.
The barbecue shack, located at 9320 Burbank Drive and 4001 Nicholson Drive, is providing Baton Rouge with its “fa tru Texas bar-b-q.”
There are plenty of barbecue places in Baton Rouge, but Cou-Yon's is one of the few that stands above the crowd of mediocracy.
Pulled pork, brisket, barbecue chicken, ribs, sausage and smoked turkey. You name your barbecued meat of choice and Cou-Yon's probably has it. 
I usually can't choose between brisket and pulled pork when I visit barbecue joints, but, thankfully, Cou-Yon's has a combination platter that gives customers a choice of two smoked meats. It's served with two tasty sides, pickle slices, raw white onion rings and buttery texas toast.
I originally doubted the brisket and pork but Cou-Yon's did not fail me. The pulled pork’s juiciness and smokey deliciousness makes it easily edible without condiments; however, the restaurant’s tangy sweet and regular barbecue sauces are a good compliment.
The pork is good but the brisket will make your taste-buds bow down in reverance.
The delectable dish is prepared two ways: lean or moist. The latter is the prevailing choice in this meaty battle. 
I might go as far to say that the succulent, flavor-dripping slices of tender brisket trimmed with a trace of fat are the best I have had, aside from home-cooked barbecue.
Along with the $7 to $15 entrees, Cou-Yon’s has an overwhelmingly prime variety of finger-food appetizers like fried pickles, barbecue and buffalo-flavored chicken wings, cheesy bacon fries and a few other choices that have potential to cause a schism between your dinner companions.
Let me not forget Cou-Yon’s sides such as baked beans, comforting Grandma’s corn-pudding, sweet coleslaw, seasoned french fries, potato salad and baked potato salad.
The eatery is especially appealing for college students because of its close location to campus and drink specials like $1 Pabst, Miller High Life and Rolling Rock draft beers on Thursdays. You’re a stronger person than me if you can resist a buck brew on tap.
Overall, the atmosphere of Cou-Yon’s isn’t anything special, but the barbecue house’s affordable prices, large portions and quick service are sufficient to score returning customers.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Three Guys Walk Into a Bar

Chummy chatter buzzes at the high-top tables around the room. An army of beer taps stand at attention behind the bar. The cozy ambience begs you to walk in and further investigate.
The Londoner on 4215 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd functions as a restaurant during the day but, by night, transforms into a bar that provides Baton Rouge with a peek of authentic British dining and all the ice-cold beer your liver can handle.
The atmosphere of the tavern is that of one you would imagine John, Paul, Ringo and George visited to slurp on a pint of chilled ale. 
Lanterns provide subtle lighting to set an intimate setting. Charismatic beer mugs line the coffee-colored wood rafters. The brick-laid fireplace is surrounded by halves of wooden beer barrels mounted to the wall.
In between hops-loaded conversation, bites of English classics like bangers and mash, fish and chips and pork chops are scooped into eager mouths.
The generous, but not wasteful, portions of food are served on newspaper-lined plates, a quirk that gives the barroom toffee points for creativity. 
The taproom has mastered potatoes like Wonka mastered chocolate. The red onion gravy-soaked mashed taters are a vessel of creamy delectability, and the “chips”, or fries, are generously seasoned and cooked to an equilibrium of soggy and crispy.
Southerners might be wary to eat pork chops not cooked by their grandma, but The Londoner doesn’t falter on the pig dish. The cuts of meat are a satisfiable caliber and sweating with piquancy. 
Wash it all down with an Abita Purple Haze, Blue Moon, Guiness, Hoegarden, Newcastle, Anchor Porter, Monty Python Holy Grail Ale, Strongbow English Pub Cider or any of the other suds from the collection of more than 25 draft and 50 bottled beers.
For maximum brewski guzzling, visit the watering-hole during its happiest hours on Monday-Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The cantina’s food, which is about $10 to $15 per entree, is enjoyable but not the establishment’s selling factor. The Londoner entices potential guests with the opportunity for a taste of Britain but will gain return patrons for the novelette list of beer, live music and carefree feeling.
For a frigid pint with kindred-spirits, televised game of the U.K.’s favorite sport or quick bite of acclaimed authentic English cuisine, venture to The Londoner and look for the red double decker parked out front.
For more info about The Londoner go to

Pork chops, mashed potatoes and sauteed veggies

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Why Did the Foodie Cross the Road?

I woke up needing it like a student needs summer vacation. 
It had to be special. Normalcy would not cut it. The binds of mundane munching had to be broken.
I needed finger-greasing, nostril-teasing, taste-bud-titillating fried chicken.
Lucky for me, Chicken Shack at 413 N. Acadian Thruway in mid-city is just a stomach grumble away. The shack has been serving its acclaimed fried chicken along with fried pork-chops, shrimp and fish for 75 years -- long enough to perpetuate its rendition of the southern classic to a coop of its own.
The scent of fried bird bubbling in the grease pools encompasses you like a friendly hug upon entrance to the literal shack.
Ketchup is not a word that comes to mind when gnawing on a wing from Chicken Shack. The chicken is superbly seasoned and easily edible without its crusted clothing.
The deep-fried skin will make you weep. The golden brown, slightly chewy and all-the-right-kinds-of-crunchy crust is so delicious it could be served sans chicken.
Chicken Shack’s signature dish might lure in customers, but the meal is incomplete without the soulful side items. Candied yams, potato salad, peach cobbler, mustard greens, coleslaw and red beans are only a few of the chicken’s faithful sidekicks. 
With one bite of cinnamon-crammed yams or sweet peach cobbler my mouth reminisces of Thanksgiving dinners at my granny’s table, and the relish-rich potato salad is fit for a bourgeoisie picnic. 
Every morsel of meat has been sucked off the chicken bone and your dining companion is severely annoyed by you scraping remnants of yams off the bottom of your styrofoam tray, but the experience is not concluded without a handmade personal pie.

The hockey puck sized pies come in lemon and sweet potato, but the bread-winner is the lemon pie with its made-from-scratch shell and warm gooey center. 
Fried chicken is a staple in the South’s cuisine, and Chicken Shack celebrates it like Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Ditch the colonel and strut over to the Chicken Shack. You will be planning your next visit before you can wipe the crumbs from the corner of your mouth.

Fried chicken breast and leg, yams, potato salad and lemon pie

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I'm Sorry Oscar. I'm Having an Affair.

It’s a condiment’s blank canvas. It’s your Sunday best’s ruinous adversary. It’s your grumbling stomach’s steadfast chum.

It’s a hot dog.

Thanks to Frankie’s Dawg House, you no longer have to visit Chicago or your local little-league baseball concession stand for your footlong fix.
Frankie’s is pleasing palates with Baton Rouge’s first gourmet hot dog stand, and it does not disappoint with its “wieners so big you need two hands.”
The newly established “dawg house” incorporates a medley of toppings and sausages to transform the simplistic hot dog from an elementary snack to a labyrinthine meal suitable for gourmands and children alike.
With a menu of more than a dozen angus beef, these aren’t the franks your momma cooked when she was too exhausted to dish out a five-course dinner. 
A few personal favorites include “The Fatty,” “The Mad Hatter” and “The Haven.” 
Although “The Fatty” is stacked with Cajun fries, queso cheese, jalapeƱos and chili, “The Haven” out-dresses it with chili, bacon, ham, pepper jack cheese and a fried egg crown.
I’ll gorge on any of Frankie’s scrumptious creations, but “The Mad Hatter” occupies a special place in my stomach. Topped with homemade purple coleslaw and spicy golden mustard (I add chili), the hatter provides a balanced amount of cold sweetness and savory warmth. 
Frankie’s takes its anti-bland frankfurter regime a bite further with speciality dogs prepared with duck, alligator, deer, italian, bratwurst, boudin and bison sausages.

I’m a fan of knowing my food's origin and keeping it local -- so is Frankie’s Dawg House.
The mouthwatering meat links, plethora of produce and enveloping buns are made and grown in the sportsman’s paradise, rather than a factory featured on animal rights brochures.
As if the hot dog stand’s prices weren’t modest enough, daily Facebook bargains, like free tater tots on Tuesdays, are exclusive to e-friends of Frankie.
Frankie’s invites its dawg and dog lovers to bring their canine companions to frolic in the doggy playground while master overindulges.

The weenie vendor, like all diners, has its pitfalls. At Frankie’s you run the risk of leaving with an embarrassing shirt stain or injuring a loved one with a pelted pants button, but, last time I checked, an overflowing helping of toppings and well-fed belly are only minor nuisances. 
Whether its to watch the big football game on the deck, close a crucial business deal or combat the hangover from Friday night’s foolhardiness, Frankie’s Dawg House exists to satisfy your hunger itch with a bun full of flavor and a topping of southern hospitality.

For Frankie's location and full menu visit

Frankie's Chicago Dawg