Throughout the 33-year-old life of the Food Show, many tips from listeners have come in, some good, some not so much. Since I have been at the mic, there have been fewer of these tips. One of them, in particular, caught my fancy, because the tip came from a reliable source.
Ali Loftin of Loftin Oysters is an enthusiastic diner and longtime listener of the Food Show. She gets around. I respect her taste, so when she called about a year ago and recommended a place I’d never heard of, it piqued my interest.
My alarm meter should have activated because there was genuine surprise below her enthusiasm for Frenier’s Landing in LaPlace. I had never heard of the place, but it sounded like my kind of place. Casual. Outdoor dining. Interesting location. Check, check, check.
It took us a year of aborted attempts, some ridiculous, (like the blown tire on I-55 a few weeks ago) to make it there. Finally a week ago, we were successful.
I still have no idea where Frenier’s Landing is. I just know I wouldn’t want to go in the dark, and I definitely wouldn’t want to have car trouble around there. It is literally, in the Boonies. Under the junction of I-10 and I-55, the remote road leading to it winds through brush and swamp. A GPS is essential.
When we arrived I was captivated by this scene. It is truly the end of the earth. It seems to be a manmade area of spits of land allowing for locals to fish, and general Louisiana outdoor sportsman activity, but it was too remote to even be busy.
As one would expect, it was perched high above the ground on stilts, and ramps to get there required switchbacks. We have said many times on the Food Show (990AM 2-4 weekdays) that so much of an experience is based on expectations. Clearly Ali’s surprise on her first visit there was based on low expectations. Her enthusiasm raised mine, and our experience was based on high expectations.
Somehow I pictured a much larger place with a balcony equal in size to the interior, sort of like the Blue Crab. There was a nine or ten-foot perimeter on two sides of the building that had 4-seater booths lining both outer walls.
I wanted to sit outside to see the sights, but there were no sights. A few people came with fishing poles, and otherwise there was not much to see.
Inside was another matter. High ceilings that were tin were partially hidden by a plethora of those banana leaf fake rattan ceiling fans that were positioned in a way that made them less utilitarian and more decoration. Combined with a fake tree post in the middle of the room, the decor could best be described as rustic. Like a shack in the woods. All of this sounds bad but isn’t. There was nothing worn, shabby or dirty about it-just a unique statement, befitting its location and food.
The service was slow, probably because the kitchen was missing a few key posts. But our waitress was terrific. She announced immediately that it was her second day, but her service suggested that it was definitely not her second day as a server. She told us later that she worked at Middendorf’s for a few years, which explained her total professionalism.
We didn’t order much, because it was slow and the menu pretty ordinary. We settled on a crabcake and a seafood platter, to which we added a fried softshell crab. It was an extra $9 and was small but plump and minus a claw.
The entire platter was otherwise normal, and again, definitely ordinary. Tom liked it better than I did. It was not greasy or bad in anyway, but neither was it anything I need to eat again.
The crabcake was actually very nice. It came completely unadorned on a small plate, but at least it was not deep-fried in oil that should have been changed, as I so often see. It was lightly breaded on the edges, and the stuffing inside was the usual stuffing, but certainly tasty enough. It had a few squirts of tartar sauce or something, as required for such things.
The most interesting thing about this place was the clientele. There was no unifying theme here, and I couldn’t figure out where they came from. It’s in the middle of nowhere, so how does anyone know about it?
I will definitely ask Ali that the next time she calls. The party she was part of all came from New Orleans. Definitely some missing pieces to the story.