Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bayou Bastion

Upon seeing his obituary in the New York Times, the legendary Mark Twain quipped, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." For Tim Faul, owner of Tim's Cajun Kitchen in Huntsville, Alabama reports of his death have not yet started. However, Tim has had the need to post on his facebook page that, contrary to reports on Yelp, he's still going strong and in November of 2012 will mark 20 years of serving up Cajun favourites to north Alabama residents.

Among the most popular of regional American cuisine, Cajun/Creole restaurants can be found in just about any city with more than about 10,000 residents it seems. Creole being the more refined foods found in the city while Cajun being the "Peasant" food found in and around bayou country. Both cuisines are heavily influenced by French and African with a little Spanish, Italian and Caribbean thrown in for good measure. I've heard it said that the simplest way to determine which is which is Cajun doesn't contain tomatoes where as Creole does. Probably an over simplification considering the once fairly obvious differences. As the years have past and people have migrated towards city life, the once bold line between the two has been slowly blurred. One thing is for certain, Chain restaurants have gotten a hold of this cuisine and muddied the waters terribly. Dishes like "Blackened Chicken" and "Cajun Seafood Pasta" are simply marketing. This is one of the better articles I've found explaining the differences.

Tim's, much like most restaurants making Acadiana food has representatives of each. Mix in some more traditional Southern dishes listed as white board specials and it's a nice menu with a little something for everyone.

013On the outside Tim's can be a bit daunting. Tucked away on the side of a hill just off the interstate in what I'm given to understand is an old Pizza Hut it's not exactly the most welcoming looking place. That's, as you find out, part of the charm. It's supposed to have a rustic, backwoods bayou feel to it and on this it delivers.

011Inside the place is dark but reveals a sense of humour. The dining room walls are covered in caricatures of employees and customers going about their daily business. Cleaning, cooking, eating, etc. You get a seat, order, eat and pay in the front vestibule. In back there is a large bar area for nights when a major sporting event is on, this place can get very busy.

In the kitchen Tim is doing practically everything himself. Right down to smoking his own meats and making his own hot sauce. Said meats and sauce can be purchased from Tim either in the restaurant or at his butcher shop.

So let's see what's coming out of said kitchen. Keeping in mind that I'm by no means an expert on Cajun and Creole cooking save for crafting my own recipes at home. How they'd stand up to a scrutinizing palate from the region I wouldn't know but it seems that Tim and I are somewhat on the same page.

003The Red Beans and Rice were terrific. When I make 'em at home there's a little more gravy but that's just a personal preference. Loving sauces and all. Outside of that, they taste very much the same. The fact that Tim uses his own smoked Andoullie in it makes it that much better. His sausage has a very pronounced smokiness that plays very well with the red beans. This dish was made even better with the addition of Tim's house made hot sauce.

006The Cheese Grits were good but not great. I think they could've been cheesier but all in all there really wasn't anything wrong with them. Just good solid cheese grits.
The Cajun Corn, a recommendation by the waitress really was as good as she said. Corn mixed with tomato and holy trinity. The thing was, mixed with the grits it made both better. A match made in heaven.
While no one, and I mean no one can beat my SIL's SIL's deviled eggs, these ones were very good. Done in the Southern style with sweet pickle relish these ones were sprinkled with paprika. Very good. As I often do, I got a dinner roll for sopping up all that goodness left on the plate.

015The Catfish Curls were nice. They seemed to be the perfect balance of fish to breading ratio which was a nice change. Usually the fish to breading ratio is much greater but there was as much fish taste as breading taste and I thought it worked really well. Partly because the corneal breading was tasty and partly because the fish could stand up to it.

014The Crawfish Po' Boy was also very good. Amply filled with breaded mud bugs and with the standard remoulade, tomato and lettuce it was an all round tasty sandwich. The Fried Okra was good but this is something that's not my favourite. Mrs. Sippi loves it but I'm not a big fan.

So there you have it. Some mighty fine Louisiana based foods in the heart of Dixie.

You can find Tim’s at 114 Jordan Lane NW, Huntsville, Alabama.

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You can also find Tim’s on facebook and Twitter.
Tim's Cajun Kitchen & Specialties Meats on Urbanspoon
Tim's Cajun Kitchen & Specialties Meats on Foodio54

Well that’s all for now folks, see you next time in the food court.


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