I decided to try out La Louisiane when I was desperately trying to escape winter’s cold lonely nights. What better way to do that than by devouring some spicy Cajun food with one of my dearest friends? So we got all dressed up and pretended to be each other’s hot dates.
Upon entering the restaurant, we both realized we were a bit overdressed. Luckily, we were welcomed by a festive ambiance. The restaurant is composed of one open room with no walls or curtains separating the restaurant into sections. Even the bar and the kitchen are annexed to the room and are totally exposed.
The setting is actually quite interesting. Not only is the room completely open, but it is very dark with most of the lighting coming from mismatched candles. Immense paintings and beads add colour to the space all while reminding you of Mardi Gras in the old New Orleans. That means that you can find many colourful masks that may or may not freak you out. Consider yourself warned.
The restaurant was completely packed and we sat at the bar while waiting for our table to be ready. We both took advantage of the situation and ordered a sunset on the bayou, a cocktail with melon liqueur, raspberry vodka and mixed fruit juices. Then we started gushing over how amazing the drink was. In all honestly, we were all apprehensive of the melon liqueur especially after seeing the famous Friends episode where Ross becomes a fan of Rachel’s girly alcohol preferences.
Feeling giddy, we were debating ordering more drinks or not. When looking around the room, we realized we were probably the youngest ones there and were far too excited by the exotic cocktail. That’s when we switched our attention to water and tried acting like responsible adults. Ah, as if.
Our table was then ready and we promptly ordered. My friend started off with the chicken gumbo yaya while I had the Louisiana alligator. Oh yes, you read it correctly: alligator!
While waiting, the overly friendly waiter brought some of the most delicious warm southern biscuits. They were so good that I stuffed them entirely in my mouth, not caring that I probably looked like a famished pig. Shortly after, our appetizers arrived.
The gumbo was disappointing. Instead of being a thick stew, it was mostly chicken and vegetables covered in questionable brown gravy. Furthermore, the gravy-chicken ratio was off balance, leaving the chicken somewhat dry and the customer wanting more stew.
The alligator was actually quite tasty. Maybe my excitement of trying alligator for the first time overcompensated for the taste, but I enjoyed it very much. The meat, comparable to the chicken, was fried and served with chipotle mayonnaise.
As for the main courses, my hot fake date had the chicken étoufée while I had the shrimp magnolia. The chicken étouffée was not much of a success, being served in exactly the same gravy as the gumbo. Both dishes were extremely similar, a detail that the waiter did not point out and probably should have, especially after we told him that it was our very first visit.
The shrimp magnolia was quite good. It is a classic Creole dish composed of tiger shrimp resting over penne with a white wine, shallot cream and pernod sauce. I ate half of the very large portion, but had to stop as I was full and the spices were becoming far too overpowering.
The desserts weren’t anything special. You can find decent lemon mousse tortes and bread puddings. As for us, we quickly paid our bills and went to enjoy some freshly made chocolate fondue instead.
Overall, the restaurant is much more of a culinary discovery, rather than a delicious experience. The food is a hit and miss and the crowd is very vivacious. Go for the drinks and the festive energy and maybe to sample a few Cajun delicacies like the alligator or coconut shrimp.
La Louisiane can be found on 5850 Sherbrooke St. W., a bus ride away from Concordia’s Loyola campus.