When the invite arrived to visit the new outpost of Walk-Ons in the Fremaux Town Center in Slidell, I laughed. The Marys are big fans. It’s a temple of our favorite foods: cheese fries, burgers. Fried chicken salad, tenders, sliders, all served in a lively, loud place where we can catch some sports contest. My response included a full disclosure that Tom would come, but only if he was dragged.
They accepted these conditions, and we went for lunch. It has a new look that is modestly different, maybe a little more spacious. And the menu is more ambitious. Fremaux Town Center, if you haven’t been, is a new shopping center in that “fake town” model that is prevalent all over, but usually much bigger. We went on Halloween, and it took me a minute or two to realize why the wait staff was costumed. Our delightful waitress had a costume that showed her off and every time she approached the table I thought I should inquire about her trainer.
We started with spinach dip, a new item on the menu called Devils On Horseback. It is a shrimp stuffed with jalapeno and cheese and wrapped with bacon, then deep-fried like Angels On Horseback at the grande dames. Unlike the grande dames, this was served with an Asian chile sauce, and was very good. Crispy, golden brown and greaseless, as all fried things should be. We made Tom get the duck gumbo, and he was underwhelmed, but only because of the context. This duck and andouille gumbo is one of the best out there, concluded after considerable research by the Marys. The spinach dip was not outstanding in any way, but it works. Served with tortilla chips, in other words, the usual way. What we should have gotten for Tom was the Tuna Tuni, which is something a little upscale for a place like this. ML had to have some cheese fries, which in our opinion are some of the best out there. The fries are frozen waffle cut, but the bacon and cheese pile is kicked up with some banana peppers, and we think this is what makes these so special. It was a pile of these, at the flagship Baton Rouge location near Tiger Stadium, that started the Marys on their love affair with this mundane dish.
For entrees, ML got a Cobb Salad, which is new to Walk-On’s, and part of the upscale and updated new menu. It didn’t look like a Cobb when it came to the table. It was already tossed, which makes it just a salad. The presentation of the Cobb is what makes it unique. This place has always been a little stingy with the meats in their salads. That said, we love the greens selection, and we always consider the Walk-On’s salads among our favorites. The burgers coming through the dining room looked good, and we realized we had never had one. I got a jalapeno burger, which came with fried jalapenos and pepperjack cheese. This was as good as it looked, except that I should have gotten a classic. Who needs fried jalapenos? We swapped fries for corn grits, which were not as good as Zea’s, but still good. And Tom got a grilled catfish, which was served Mediterranean style with tomatoes on top. And capers.
We came to eat, so we accepted their enthusiastic offer for dessert. I was intrigued by a shake on the menu, and ML got the cookie in a skillet a la mode. Tom had bread pudding. The shake was good in a very mainstream way, with chocolate sauce dripping from whipped cream. Creamy and chocolatey, as a shake ought to be. ML liked her cookie, and Tom found the bread pudding too sweet, in keeping with his dour approach to it all. We warned them.
Walk-On’s Bistreaux and Bar is the realization of a dream for two LSU guys who played sports there, one as a walk-on. To succeed that way takes something extra. That is a trademark of this chain, now blanketing the United States in a massive franchise-fueled expansion. Good for them.