2612 Kirkman St., Lake Charles
As if there’s not enough going on in the world, it’s also my daughter’s senior year, and with that, it’s keeping her and my wife a bit on the busy side leaving them both unavailable for this dinner. However, our son, Dayton, was eager to be a part of the Cousin’s experience.
Wait, what? We have a son. Yeah, we don’t get to mention him much since he’s usually bro-ing around the McNeese campus, studying or working, but we set aside this evening to get a little one-on-one bonding time.
It had been a while since I’d been to Cousin’s, and this was my son’s first visit. The cuisine here is right up our alley. If you’re not familiar with the place or know what you’re looking for, you’re probably going to pass it up. There’s not a whole lot of signage, but once you locate the liquor store, you’re right where you need to be.
There have been quite a few exterior aesthetic upgrades to the building, and it’s certainly inviting with its brick façade, covered patio and accent lighting. It was kind of neat witnessing my son’s expression as we walked into the restaurant. He was a little wide-eyed as he took it all in.
The interior is tranquil and relaxing with subtle bone-tinted walls and dark contrasting accents throughout. The seating area is open, including several tables with accommodations for any size party and two large bar seating options as well. This is undoubtedly the most complete stocked bar in the area. The adjacent liquor store has a hand in that.
We opted to sit at the bar, and we noticed the staff was young and hip, eager and attentive. Michael welcomed us and informed us that he would be our server for the evening. The floor was packed, with barely an available seat, and everyone was visibly enjoying the evening, as evident through the laughter and conversations.
With our drinks before us, we glanced through the menu. We both decided on our entrées without hesitation. But appetizers are a must. We agreed that the hummus would be a great way to start. It was delivered in mere seconds — a nice serving of hummus and a separate plate stacked with pita. Not just pita, but a pillowy, soft and steamy pita, with just the right amount of tug and firmness to dredge through the hummus, which was a silky blend of chickpeas, olive oil and garlic, with a dash of cayenne. It didn’t stand a chance between the two of us.
Dayton knew exactly what he wanted for an entrée — grilled tuna and a heap of boiled shrimp tossed in oil and garlic. As for me, after flipping through the various options, I found I couldn’t pass up the lamb lollipops with shrimp. Again, as busy as the restaurant was, there was no delay. Our plates came out quickly, and our food looked amazing. Dayton received two large tuna steaks, seared rare, as he ordered them, with shrimp, rice and green beans.
The lamb lollipops were visually stunning and served with the same sides.
At first cut, we could see that the tuna steaks were done as they should be. The seared exterior yielded to a pink and flaky center. My lamb, cooked medium rare, was tender and delicately seasoned, but not so much as to mask the mild gaminess of the lamb. It was perfection, honestly. The green beans were fresh and bright, cooked al dente with a seasoning that cleansed the palette between bites of the meat, shrimp and rice.
I found myself asking why we don’t come here more often. Potentially, I have the opportunity to visit and write about 50 restaurants and eateries per year, and there’s a lot of ground to cover, which makes it a little difficult given a hectic schedule. However, this is one I’m going to have to add to my list of places to enjoy on those nights where we just want to go out and experience great food served in a fantastic atmosphere. And I certainly appreciated the time spent with my son.
An Extra Dash:
As Dayton and I left Cousin’s and drove up Kirkman Street, we passed Tasterite Jamaican (2204 Kirkman St.) and got to talking about it. We literally have one place in all of Southwest Louisiana to find Jamaican cuisine, and it’s right here in the middle of Lake Charles.
A few months ago, I was able to sample some of the food from Tasterite during Chuck Fest, where they had a booth. I remember it being on point with the Jamaican foods I’ve had in other areas of the country.
I definitely have a fondness for jerk chicken. This is a slow cooked, simmered chicken with a variety of seasonings and spices, such as allspice, nutmeg, garlic and peppers that bring in a delayed heat that builds with each bite, traditionally taken with rice and beans mixed in.
After work one day, I bolted over to get in just before they closed. Inside, this place is so vibrant and festive — an homage to the island. I ordered my favorite, jerk chicken, as well as a fried chicken to bring home to the family.
While waiting, I chatted with the owners, who were friendly and accommodating.
In short time, I was handed a bag with a bit of weight to it. I made my way to the car for the journey home. Everyone was eager to taste what I’d been bragging about and craving for some time.
It was good, although I didn’t get the juicy and tender meat I’m accustomed to with a simmered-all-day dish like jerk chicken. That doesn’t mean I’m writing it off, we all have days like that. I’m looking forward to another go.