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Bourbon Street: A taste of old New Orleans in Bayside

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BOURBON STREET CAFE

40-12 Bell Blvd. Bayside

224 2200

There have been some big changes made since 1999, when Bourbon Street opened, and adding a party room to handle 120 was just the start. The restaurant on Bell Boulevard has grown up over the past three years with a more polished menu and name - the Bourbon Street Cafe.

Owner and chef Joey Cannella revamped the menu, making sure to serve something to please everyone, and not neglecting the old standards of steak and pasta. Southern specialties were added to the Cajun classics, highlighted Friday and Saturday with Jambalaya night. There’s lobster bisque on the weekends, Tuesday has become clam bake night and a Sunday brunch features pecan waffles with apple butter, eggs hussard and crawfish cakes Benedict with a tarragon mustard sauce. (Oh, my.) The regulars won't have it any other way.

Keeping with the Big Easy theme, of course, there is live jazz music Wednesdays and more contemporary tunes on Thursdays.

I stopped in with friends on a Monday, steak and ale night, to dine at this classic New Orleans outpost in Bayside that evokes images of the true Bourbon Street with its great restaurants and jazz cafes.

The long bar with dining up front set the tone for the adjoining dining room. People who like to be part of the action dine there. I dubbed it the “French Quarter.” The other dining room (the new party room) is the more subdued “Garden District.”

A touch of New Orleans atmosphere exists with a sideboard flanked by decorative lanterns in the “French Quarter.” After a Hurricane, the Louisiana rum drink, you seem even more transported. “Let the good times roll,” as the menu advises.

The soup of the day was red pepper. That was for me, with basil, sambuca, fennel and a pinch of cream. Traditionalists also spooned into French onion soup topped with a Swiss cheese gratinee.

Our house salad, which accompanied each entree, included cherry tomatoes and red pepper strips. Other options included a spinach salad with strips of tasse (Cajun ham), mushrooms, tomatoes and boiled eggs with a hot bacon dressing. The Caesar salad comes with either chicken, calamari or blackened shrimp. Bourbon Street’s Chicken salad boasts fresh pineapple and walnuts.

One friend had mussels Nicoise, the other enjoyed lobster tacos. The Nicoise featured plump mussels sauced sensationally with sambuca, saffron and thyme, and was dramatically presented with three chunks of garlic bread tucked in the butter to sop it up, my dear. The sauce for the lobster tacos was also great.

Jambalaya was another entree, dramatically presented with three huge chunks of cornbread tucked in. This New Orleans classic was chock full of andouille (Cajun sausage), chicken and shrimp. We were warned that it was hot and spicy, and the forecast was correct. (Doggie bagger's note: Heat and serve over sliced iceberg lettuce.)

The shrimp and sea scallops served in tomato, bourbon and dill sauce over fettuccine delighted me, especially since petite green beans were ringed around the outside.

Our final entree, the horseradish grilled salmon, is the specialty of the restaurant. It was very nice, but the horseradish was a tad too low key for us.

Cajun aficionados must know that blackened catfish and chicken is on the menu. The blackening seasoning Cannella uses is a blend of red and other peppers, herbs and salt that create that wonderful flavor when seared in a hot, heavy skillet. There is also blackened fillet mignon and the trendy blackened prime rib salad.

Desserts are dramatically presented on service-size plates. Our apple spice cake was flanked by two balls of vanilla ice cream set in a ring of whipped cream. The Bourbon Street cheesecake was set on a cinnamon dusted plate flanked by nests of whipped cream. Sorbets are enormous and include apple and chocolate mud pie gelato.

Chef Joey’s passion for food obviously comes through in all his long days and nights at the Bourbon Street Cafe. That's one thing that hasn't changed.

CHEF'S CHOICE

Lobster bisque (cup/bowl).,$3.95 /$4.95

Emeril's BBQ Shrimp...$9.95

Seafood Stuffed Eggplant...$9.95

Chicken Flavutas...$7.95 (fresh tomato, poblano)

Pistachio Crusted Chilean Sea Bass salsa...$18.95

Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya...$17.95

Crawfish Stuffed Filet Mignon (with crawfish Bordelaise sauce)...$21.95

Cedar Planked Salmon...$17.95

White Chocolate Mousse...$4.95

Southern Peanut Butter Pie...$4.95

Bailey's Cheesecakes...$4.95

Cuisine: Cajun

Setting: Modified New Orleans

Service: Napkin for hot plates

Hours: L&D 7 days. Late nights. Brunch Sun

Reservations: Yes

Parking: Street. Municipal lot

Location: N, 1/2 block, LIRR. W side

Dress: Casual

Credit cards: All major

Private parties: To 125

Takeout: Yes

Off premise catering: Yes

Children: Own menu

Smoking: Bar

Noise level: “French Quarter,” moderate to loud. “Garden District,” low

Music: Jazz Wed., Contemporary Thur.

Handicap access: Yes

THE BOTTOM LINE

Well rounded Cajun cafe. Dedicated chef. Steak & Ale Monday, Clambake and Pint Tuesday. Jazz Wednesday. Contemporary music Thursday. Brunch Sunday. Modified New Orleans setting. Napkin for hot plates “worn” by servers.

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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