417 Ann St., Lake Charles
Table Salt • Review By Bill Coyne
More and more Lake Area restaurants are joining the Sunday brunch game, and that’s beneficial on many levels. Not only does it allow for diversity in the brunch options, but it also helps alleviate long waits.
The original plan had been for my wife and I to check it out. But we toyed with the idea of waking our kids (young adults) and talking them into joining us. Well, that began the debate of whether they were allowed inside, since they are under 21. Here is the official ruling from MacFarlane’s: youths under 18 can eat on the patio. Those 18 and older are welcome inside. Our daughter decided to join us, while our other child felt that sleeping in was going to be in his best interest.
As we were on our way my wife sent a message asking if we needed reservations. The reply was that no, they would not be needed that day. I was thinking, “I hope they’re busy and their brunch is going well,” but I was also thinking, “Cool, we can get in without waiting.”
As we pulled up at 11 am, the parking lot was packed with vehicles, and I was thinking, “Did everyone show up in the last 15 minutes?” However, we were able to walk right up the steps to a very busy patio and toward the front doors.
Without hesitation, the greeter commented that we could sit wherever we liked. We chose our table from the few remaining options.
I’ll say it again, I love this place. The staff is professional and friendly and their attire is perfect. I admire the decor, the ambience, the vibe, the food and the people.
The interior is deep rich wood and a smoky maroon color with golds and flair throughout. It has oddities and Irish items creatively displayed throughout the interior. It sucks you right out of Lake Charles and transplants you into a corner-side pub in Ireland. It’s always festive.
Within seconds, our server, Paxton, presented the menus and asked for our drink order.
After viewing the bottomless Voodoo Bloody Mary several times, we knew we were going to order it. This is literally a meal in itself. It’s a flavorful cocktail made with MacFarlane’s own special infused Voodoo vodka, adorned with towering skewers of cheeses, boiled shrimp, grape tomatoes, pickled green beans, olives, an onion ring, a lemon slice, and a hefty slice of candied bacon — all stuffed inside a bacon rimshot seasoned glass. Before you get too deep into the drink, order food, or you’ll find yourself stuffed.
We ordered Crabby Tomatoes. Sautéed potatoes and onion make the bed for bacon, fried green tomatoes, poached eggs and hollandaise. It’s all topped with lump crab meat. We also ordered sautéed shrimp over buttery grits, a crawfish Tasso sauce, eggs, hollandaise and toasted bread planks.
Last was eggs Florentine — eight large fried oysters surrounding a bed of potatoes and onion, poached eggs, creamed spinach and hollandaise. The potatoes were sautéed, so they were soft, yet firm. It all complimented each dish without conflict of textures. Each plate had its own character.
I’m not going to go into detail about every dish we ordered. The pictures will do the food justice. It all came to our table hot, flavorful and in a timely way.
There’s something for everybody here. Glancing around to see what others had ordered at their tables, I realized that if you leave here hungry or can’t find something that doesn’t tempt your appetite, that’s your fault. From chicken and waffles, catfish, steak, adult pancakes with RumChatta and traditional Irish dishes like black and white pudding or corned beef and cabbage, the options are expansive compared to those of most brunch menus. We left more than pleased, as always, and full.
An Extra Dash
Java Joltz in Jennings
Over the past few weeks, a little coffee house has been popping up on my suggestions list. I’ll admit, I’m not a daytime coffee guy. I’ll drink one or two cups in the morning, and that’s it. So I didn’t give it much more thought.
Of course, it was my duty to look further into this. There’s a tiny strip mall on Shankland in the heart of Jennings that houses Java Joltz. As I made my way through the door, I was immediately immersed in the beautiful aroma of coffee beans and met with a friendly greeting.
I looked at the large chalkboard wall menu. There was no description of the options, and I was torn between two sandwiches. I asked which of the two seemed to be more popular, only to have my food goal shattered by the response that the grill had closed 10 minutes prior to my arrival. Bummer.
The enchilada soup was hot if I’d like to try that, and actually, it was the perfect day for it. As I stated before, I’m really not a coffee drinker by day. But I was in a cute coffee house and it made perfect sense to accompany my soup with a cup of coffee.
There were plenty of seating options, from tables to sofas to a bar situated near big windows looking out onto the outdoors.
In mere minutes my order was ready, and I found a spot at a table. The soup was creamy and smooth. There were chunks of chicken breast and soft beans. It had immense flavor with just a touch of heat.
The iced coffee was silky. It was a perfect balance of cold brew and sweetness, without being thick and syrupy. Both items hit the spot.
I walked away without trying one of the sandwiches on that visit. But I was not going to be outdone. I came back the next day before the grill closed at 3 pm and I ordered a grown-up grilled cheese sandwich. As I mentioned before, you really don’t know what you’re getting when you order here. You just order and see what comes out.
This sandwich didn’t disappoint. It had bacon and smoked Gouda along with baby spinach, tomatoes and mayonnaise, served warm in a grilled panini.
This was definitely worth the return trip. It was so good, in fact, that I signed up for their rewards program, as I can see myself frequenting this cute little class-act coffee house.