3922 Ryan St. • Lake Charles, LA
Chastain’s is a long-time favorite of Lake Charles. It has been around for well over 20 years, and that kind of longevity speaks volumes. It’s been through the highs and lows in the ever-changing trends of food, fads, entertainment, people and surroundings.
It’s been a few years since we’ve had dinner here. We stopped in for oysters and various dishes, and I can recall we were very pleased with our experience.
Any restaurant can stumble when changes are made, or if the restaurant doesn’t adapt when needed. Now, I’m not privy to the details of what took place. Between chef and ownership changes, management and other internal matters, Chastain’s seemed to have created its own little struggle recently.
Luckily, this was a short span, and word on the street was that their best chef, Reggie, was back in command of the kitchen. This exciting news prompted a return visit.
My wife and I decided to meet for dinner. It was the first day of Lent, and after the previous night’s celebration of Mardi Gras, I really didn’t expect anybody to be out on the town.
As we pulled into the parking lot, the amount of vehicles in the lot proved I was wrong. It’s busy, and admittedly, I’m glad. As we walk through the doors, we see that just about every seat at every table is occupied. I asked the hostess if we could take a couple of seats at the bar and she obliged. We found two spots, and this is where it all got fun.
We were handed off to the bartender, our server, Angelique. She was bright spirited, open and friendly.
I always try to take in everything, yet I’m easily distracted. So, between looking over the menu, glancing through the swinging doors (which revealed the kitchen every time someone walked through them), and soaking in the rest of the surroundings, there was a lot going on.
Things may have changed on some level with the restaurant, but the décor hasn’t. It’s kind of like hanging out in any suburban home, circa 1985. It’s cozy, it’s comfortable, it’s just cool.
Rounded-back fabric and vinyl chairs on casters, low lighting, just a warm feel that definitely maintains its own character. Every guest, from young to old, appeared to be having a good time, and I witnessed the owner visiting with tables to assure all was going well.
Chastain’s has a lot to offer. From steaks and seafood, oysters, salads, burgers and various specials, there is something for any appetite.
After our typical debate of “if you get this, I’ll get that,” we finally decided to order. We started off with potato skins, and added shrimp. For her meal, she opted for the catfish and shrimp platter. For me, it was the seafood ravioli.
Angelique presented the potato skin appetizer, which consisted of half-shell baked potatoes with bacon, several baby shrimp, melted cheddar, and a cup of sour cream to dip. It wasn’t long before the entrées appeared.
My wife’s dish was a fried mix of catfish and shrimp with a side of grilled asparagus. It was hot and flaky and the steam danced upward as my wife broke into the hand-battered fish. This was a perfect balance of crust and seasoning, and the asparagus was tender and tasty. And before me was a fish shaped plate, loaded with bubbling cheese and the aroma of garlic and crab. Granted, at first glance there’s not much to go on. It’s what’s underneath that beautiful layer of goodness that mattered the most. I dipped my fork into the dish, scraping off a little of the cheese to taste. It featured garlic, Parmesan, mozzarella, and shrimp throughout, broiled into a very pleasant cap. Second taste, I was going in. I peeled back a little cheese to reveal the ravioli. These were nearly the size of a sand dollar. Large, pasta pillows stuffed with a healthy amount of crab and shrimp filling. This was an extremely tasty dish, and very filling as well.
As we wound down from our meal, the owner opened conversation and thanked us for the visit, hoping there wasn’t any delay in our evening.
Chastain’s was busy, yet the kitchen and staff performed flawlessly, backed with a fun and personable interactive vibe. It was a great night and we are glad to see they’re doing so well.