915 Sampson, Westlake, LA
Barbecue is a major player in the food scene here in Southwest Louisiana. Each pit master has their own style, recipe and method, but all have the same goal … great barbecue. Once they’ve achieved that, they build upon it.
It was early in the afternoon when my wife and I ventured into Jeanne’s Bourbon Street BBQ a couple of months ago after attending a family funeral. Although we enjoyed it, it’s fair to say my heart and focus weren’t where I needed them to be to be able to convey my experience at that time. That warranted a second and more dedicated visit.
It was late afternoon on the day before Thanksgiving, and most businesses had closed for the day. The streets were relatively empty, as people were busy doing last-minute shopping or had already left town. As I headed toward Westlake, I sent a message to my wife asking if she’d like to meet me at Jeanne’s BBQ. Knowing she was impressed with the margaritas during our first visit, I assumed she’d say yes, as she was also ready to leave her office.
As soon as I pulled into the driveway, I couldn’t help but take in the aroma of smoke wafting from the chimneys of the pits, nestled into an inviting building which survived the hurricanes quite well.
The Westlake business that started out as a barbecue trailer in a rather empty lot actually began a few years earlier in West Virginia. In a leap of faith, Mrs. Jeanne and her husband opened up a map on the wall, threw a dart and decided to move wherever that dart landed. Lucky for us, they found Southwest Louisiana. This is where she crafted and presented her barbecue.
As demand and desire for her brisket increased, she wanted more. She wanted a place for people to actually sit and eat. After a few years, building began around the trailer. It offered a spacious and comfortable indoor area, built right where Mrs. Jeanne started with a single trailer.
As soon as you walk through the door of Jeanne’s, you step into a time capsule of the Wild West. There’s rustic wood and iron, toys and ads from the days of old. It’s a genuine museum of Winchester Firearms memorabilia, and it’s really cool.
As I glanced around, to the left was a semi-circular wooden bar with a wagon wheel of lights overhead. To the rear were large windows where the smoke trailer and kitchen sit under video menus, with plenty of tables placed across the floor.
After a long pause at the swinging door, I made my way inside. I took slow, dramatic steps as I bellied up to the bar. Ok, not really. I took a seat on a stool. The barkeep, Seymour, asked what I’d like to drink and if I’d like a menu. I stated I was waiting for my wife and wasn’t in a rush. I passed the time with a simple chilled beer and caught up with some reading of our last Lagniappe edition.
It wasn’t long until I heard the familiar beep of my phone alerting me to the message that my wife was indeed going to be there soon. I had a margarita at the ready as I met her at the door. The barkeep makes such a fantastic margarita, we had to do a little coaxing to get the recipe so we could make these at home.
As we caught up with each other on the day’s events, we looked over the menu. Now, one thing we learned from our first visit is that the kitchen is extremely generous with the portions. The savory brisket had a nice bark and a hearty seasoning, and was tender and juicy. The pulled pork had a great flavor profile as well. I know this is going to sound gluttonous, but between the two visits we ordered two nachos, one loaded with brisket and the other with pulled pork, each with a thick layer of nacho cheese and jalapeños; a brisket and rib plate; mac and cheese; cole slaw and the Big Mike, which is a mountain of smoked meat in an open faced sandwich. You’re not picking this sandwich up. You can’t.
All this food was accompanied by a variety of sauces designed by Jeanne. And the menu doesn’t stop there. There’s smoked sausage, chicken, pork steaks, daily specials and the popular Saturday night special, smoked ribeye.
Jeanne’s is a fun place for all with great food, atmosphere and staff.
Extra Dash: Donut King
It’s been a long road to recovery, but Donut King (2740 Gerstner Memorial, Lake Charles) is once again serving the best glazed donuts and kolaches in Lake Charles. Open since 1956 … think about that for a second … 64 years of faithful customers and dedication to the community. It is a true multi-generational family business that has created traditions. Kids who stood in line with their parents are now standing there with their grandkids.
Originally owned and operated by Effrey Veillon, the donut shop has endured its share of hurricanes. Now Effrey’s son, James Veillon, is the owner, and he wasn’t about to let Laura be the end of this historic family business.
The small building took a hit, but rebuilding soon began. I was invited to the reopening, and as I was standing aside watching the team do their thing, I discovered they have their own dedication to Donut King. One employee drives from Eunice every day. They all show up at 2 am to begin the prep work, mixing and forming dough by hand in the dimly lit building. On the day of the re-opening, they were all smiles, anxious to open, ready to get back into the swing of things. There was a definite sense of excitement as the time drew closer, the smell of fresh coffee and sweet glaze filling the air. At 5 am sharp, it was showtime. The lights came on, and within seconds, there was a gentleman at the walk-up window, smiling as he gave his order of fresh glazed donuts and chocolate milk. Welcome back, Donut King.