3939 Ryan St., Lake Charles, 337-222-8888
Snapping my way through some so-cial media apps, I’ll often come across a dish or a restaurant that really catches my eye. I had noticed on more than one occa-sion that my buddy Michael posted some photos of visually exciting food with an appealing backdrop. Of course, I had to ask where these were coming from. His reply: “You have got to check out Bisou Lounge, and I want to go when you do.” So, the next evening, we had a date.
I looked it up and knew the approxi-mate location near the university, but couldn’t pinpoint the location in my mind. Even though I plugged the address into my phone, I still managed to pass it up as the signage is discreet and the exterior presence is respectful to the neighbors.
Tucked away in its own little cor-ner are doors that open up to a hip and comfortable lounge. In the low light, the first detail to capture your attention is the prominent brick and hardwood bar back with a marble top. To one side is a step-up area for conversation, with numerous set-tees and cocktail tables reflecting the light from neon wall signs. The lounge is set up to be entertaining and fun with a billiard table, an occasional DJ and nightly and game day specials on the regular menu.
Although it was mid-week when we visited, there was a nice little crowd. Michael and I took a couple of seats at the bar; Brenda welcomed us. The martini faux pas I described in my last column wasn’t about to deter me from ordering a correct dirty martini. Michael had a Tito’s with Sprite and orange.
The menu was on a chalkboard just off the side of the bar. As my date was socializing, I wasn’t going through the formalities of etiquette and just started ordering food. It wasn’t long before the loaded fries were placed between us. My first impression: if it continues this way, we’re going to leave happy. They were simple crinkle cut fries, loaded with crispy bacon, feta cheese, tomatoes and topped with scal-lions and a ranch drizzle.
As we were quickly depleting the fries, I leaned back to view the menu again. I asked Brenda for a plate of lem-on pepper wings and brisket tacos, and Michael ordered a burger.
As the food came out, it was easy to witness that the plating and flavor had that special step-up. The lemon pepper wings, although they had a wet sauce, were still crispy, with the hint of heat that you’d expect in a hot wing. Michael’s burger was exactly what caught my attention in his pictures, and was equally impressive in person. The burger had a large, hand-formed patty, fresh greens, red onion, to-mato and sauce on a toasted brioche.
Am I saving the best for last? OK, yes. The brisket tacos … Once I bit into these, it was apparent there was much more going on in that kitchen than just slinging out food. Brisket is a bit of an art. Each person has their own seasoning and method for creating what they believe is the best brisket. These savory tacos were perfect. The flavor, the texture of the bris-ket, the seasoning, the appearance were all mouthwatering. From the grilled tortillas, the heaping amount of juicy brisket, the topping of crumbled cheese, the tomato, cilantro and cream sauce, it all worked. I almost ordered a second round.
As we were finishing up our meals, a gentleman came from the kitchen and prepared to leave the building. It was evi-dent he was the man behind the menu and the meals. I was certainly impressed with what we’d experienced. I had to know more about who was creating this.
That man was executive chef Justin Honoré. The results of the creative free-dom extended to chef Justin were reward-ing for those on the receiving end of his talent. It was a great experience.
Bisou’s has a clean and inviting at-mosphere with fantastic food and service, service which is now being extended into Sunday brunch. It’s definitely worth checking it out.
EXTRA DASH: PASTA LAB
Pasta lovers, rejoice! Right here, in this booming city where we’ve taken more than our share of setbacks and destruction, we now have our very own fresh pasta kitchen. OK, so it’s not a restaurant. Still, it’s everything pasta, and more.
I was out running errands when my friend Taryn asked me to call her. Beginning the conversation, she said, “I’m here at Crying Eagle, and in the little strip mall next door, there’s a new pasta outlet about to open. Can you come check it out?”
As I walk through the doors, I’m eager and excited to see who’s behind this and what’s in store for our community.
A lobby with coolers and cheese wheels and wall racks filled with bags of pasta captures my attention. Behind large glass doors is the Lab. This is where everything comes together, and the entire process is visible.
A large custom butcher block table dusted with premium flour stands at the center. This area doubles as a class-room environment, with live online classes for tips and recipes for various types of pasta.
Pasta Lab, the brainchild of proprietor Michael Gardner, a California native who’s no stranger to Southwest Louisiana, has opened his doors and welcomed those of us who love pasta. Pasta Lab is creating the freshest pasta available. The possibilities are nearly endless.
In its simplest form, pasta is nothing more than flour, eggs or water and maybe salt. When you source the best in-gredients and infuse the recipe with a variety of herbs or spices, you elevate that pasta. And that’s exactly what the lab has been created to do. With a fancy extruder that creates custom shapes, a sheeter and the skillful hands of Michael and Lauren, we are given an opportunity to take our dishes to a different level.
I’ve stopped in at Pasta Lab on several occasions over the last few weeks. Each time I’m excited to see Michael’s plans come together and the progress he’s made.
So, what exactly is in the store? As of this moment, dried pasta in various shapes and forms, from penne to ta-gliatelle, to macaroni shells can be found there. There’s also fresh, soft pasta, which can be infused with ingredients such as sun-dried tomatoes, basil, red pepper flakes and black peppercorn. What’s best is, if you don’t see it on the shelves, in most instances, the staff will make a batch tailored to your desire. In the very near future, you’ll have a gluten-free pasta option. Imported cheeses, infused olive oils and balsamics, utensils and gadgets, will all be available.
Michael loves the involvement and interactions with the customers. During my last visit, I walked in to see Michael assisting a young man, a potential chef, as he grated a freshly cracked wheel of reggiano cheese. It’s hands on; inclusive; in our very own niche outlet; and we’re all excited.