On my very first work trip, I found myself in Houston. When I told one of my friends that grew up in Louisiana that I was going on the trip he told me to make a trip to Pappadeaux’s. I did, and I was blown away. That was a year and a half ago. Now every time I fly through Houston, I make sure to place an order at the Bush International Pappadeaux’s and pick it up before my next flight leaves. Why do I tell that story? Because on this trip to Dallas as we were trying to figure out where we wanted to go to dinner, someone mentioned Pappadeaux’s. My ears perked up and my mouth started to water a little bit. I know it is a place I’ve been before, but I haven’t written about it yet, and I knew it would deliver the goods.
After a short deliberation, it was concluded that Pappadeaux’s was the place to go, and we headed out. When we got there, I was excited. It’s the type of place that is really designed to hold a lot of people that are interested in eating a lot of good food. Our waiter (Chris I believe) was one of those guys that’s just friendly and full of energy, offering suggestions while convincing you to get more than you could possibly eat. Looking at the menu, I decided I would try an appetizer this evening and placed my order for Boudin, a dish that seemed uniquely Cajun (with a description that read “sausage stuffed with rice”…I was curious to say the least). Chris then gave us a few minutes to look over the dinner menu, but I knew I didn’t need to. There was one thing I wanted, the reason for going to Pappadeaux’s; the crawfish etouffee served over dirty rice. It was the recommendation from my first trip there, and it is still the only thing I order…well, until I saw the crawfish platter that combines the etoufee with fried crawfish. Double the crawfish on one plate?? Why not!?
When Chris returned, I happily placed my order (after convincing two of the people with me that they too needed to order it), and then turned to my Sam Adams and conversation. It wasn’t too long until a plate was placed in front of me with two full sausages, rice, dipping sauce and bread. I wondered if Chris realized that I wanted the appetizer portion of the Boudin, and not the meal portion. Then I looked at the other appetizers, remembered where I was, and knew that I wouldn’t be leaving hungry (and that I had a date with the gym in the morning). The Boudin was very interesting, and very good; kind of a shredded meat in the sausage casing with a great kick to it that was balanced very nicely by the rice. The sauce was a little bit of a cream based sauce that again added a little heat and a little cool. But, what stood out was the flavor of the meat, which was very moist and flavorful, definitely not overwhelmed by the spice.
I ended up eating 1 full sausage, and giving away a bit of the second one knowing that my etouffee was still en route, and I wanted to make sure I had plenty of room for that. Shortly after we finished our appetizers and ordered another round of drinks, the entrees started to arrive. There was some fish with sauces and the like at the other end of the table, but all I noticed was the plate set in front of me. I decided to first take a bite of the fried crawfish, which was great; kind of like popcorn shrimp but with more flavor. The thing is after that first bite of the fried, I realized that I had made a mistake. By ordering the platter, I got a half order of the etouffee!! And it wasn’t that the fried crawfish wasn’t good, it’s that the etoufee is great. It has this wonderful spicy kick to it, the kind that sneaks up on you and just slowly spreads across your tongue, but not in an unpleasant way. The spice is complimented by a rich roux based sauce, with the crawfish adding a hint of sweetness, and the dirty rice is there pretty much just to soak everything up. I was definitely pleased, and I could tell from the chorus of “Oh wow!” and “Oh my gosh!” that the others that ordered it were pleased as well. In fact one of the guys kept saying “I can’t eat any more” as he continued to work his way through the etoufee. In the end, we all finished off all of the etouffee, leaving some of the fried crawfish behind.