Lula’s Louisiana Cookhouse, Owosso

Years ago, my (now) wife and I took a trip to New Orleans, and it was the best food trip we had ever taken, and this includes trip to Paris, Italy, New York, and Lansing. The spice and seasoning, the selection, the freshness of seafood – everything was fantastic, and there was not a single meal that we did not enjoy. The fact that I added hundreds of strings of beads to my (’til then) non-existent bead collection was a big plus.

In recent years, the Lansing area has gotten several Cajun / creole restaurants, and I’ve been happy with the selection and taste that these places have provided. Though not the latest of the bunch (that prize goes to Creole in Old Town, Lansing), Lula’s Louisiana Cookhouse has the distinction of being the only one in beautiful, historic downtown Owosso, the only town near my home that has a castle. Owosso was also the location of the play my daughter was performing in, the reason we found ourselves in town.

Lula’s is hard to miss. Its spot on Washington is easily noted because of the enormous yellow sign. Once inside, the interior is only a shade less bright. Colorful bulbs and artwork add nice southern touches, and the impressive selection of Cajun / creole cookbooks. Though they may have a copy, I didn’t see Uglesich’s great cookbook among them. (The “Paul’s Fantasy” dish we had at Uglesich’s in New Orleans was amazing.)

First, the bad news: As of this writing, they don’t have a liquor license, so the strongest thing you’ll find is a Coke. But in their defense, the Coke was absolutely fine. I’ll update this posting when they have their license. Don’t let its lack of beer and wine stop you, though – the food it worth the visit.

A little more bad news: The photo is terrible. My phone doesn’t take the greatest of pictures – sorry!

Lulas

It was a tough choice, but I went with the catfish and hushpuppies, with fries as my side. The catfish was very tender and had a nice, mild flavor. I prefer my breading firmer than Lula’s provided, but the flavor made up for the firmness issue. Likewise, the hushpuppies had a subtle corn flavor – all five of them! I don’t usually share my food, but I was willing of part with a hushpuppy. Had I been given four, no way.

The fries covered half the plate – can’t knock their willingness to part with their potatoes. Again, good flavor. An extra 30 seconds in the fryer would have been perfect. Is it the New Orleans way of cooking fries? I don’t know. But I wouldn’t exclude them from future consideration. The taste made up for being a bit softer than my preference.

It sounds a bit like I didn’t enjoy the food, which isn’t the case. Though I nitpick, it was a good meal and I would definitely return to try another one of their amazing looking items. The jambalaya got positive comments from my co-diners, and there were a couple of German-themed dishes that looked tasty as well. Lula’s is a definite plus to the Owosso dining scene.

Oh, and the next time I eat there, I’ll get a better picture.

La Brasserie at Barcelo Maya

This week will be a special Barceló Maya edition of Michigan Foodies.

I’m sure there were desperate cries of “Where are my Michigan Foodies posts!” raised all last week. Well, I was in Mexico, so take that. Specifically, Barceló Maya Palace in Puerto Adventuras. There are  five resorts at Barceló Maya, the Palace being the most high end. It’s my fifth trip back to  Barceló Maya, having stayed at the Palace, Beach, and Caribe on separate occasions, even getting married there in 2005.

That is all the history you will get today, but a little Spanish lesson will be thrown in.

Besides being a beautiful resort with a mile-long beach, lots of pools, and enormous buffets,  Barceló Maya Palace also includes three “a la carte” restaurants. Today, we’ll be talking about La Brasserie. Brasserie is French for something, I’m sure. It looks French, it sounds French. I don’t speak French, though I can order McDonald’s by combo number, which is a skill I suggest you perfect for any trip to Paris. It came in handy.

La Brasserie

Entrance to La Brasserie

At La Brasserie, you can choose up to four courses. I, of course, chose all four. Well, four and a half – dinner starts with a selection of rolls and butter. Yes, there is a selection of butter. For the mantequilla (butter), I chose pepper and paprika. Neither had a strong flavor, so it really doesn’t matter what you pick. But are you like me and whenever you see “paprika”, you think of “Blue’s Clues”? As for the rolls, you can see I had a croissant, but the other roll, while appearing plain, hides a secret – it is filled with cream cheese. Maybe “filled” is too strong a word. Had a smattering of cream cheese. But in any case, it was bueno. If you only choose one roll for your dining experience at La Brasserie, choose the cream cheese roll.

La Brasserie rolls

La Brasserie rolls

For my appetizer, I went with the crab and caviar salad because it sounded like it would be the most expensive at a restaurant where I would have to pay. Luckily for me, most of the crab meat had already been extracted, because crab is one of Earth’s most annoying foods. I had a minor struggled trying to get some good stuff out of the claw, then gave up – I had three more courses coming. The crab meat was alright – it tasted like crab – and I can’t really comment on the caviar because there wasn’t much of it. I’d also like to give a shout-out to the lone olive. Way to represent.

La Brasserie appetizer

La Brasserie appetizer

Course dos was la sopa (soup), which just happens to be one of my daughter’s favorite words in Spanish, and I don’t know why. Probably because it’s easy to say, but that’s just speculation. I chose the lobster bisque, because again, it would probably have been the most expensive soup had I had to pay for it. The bisque was spicy, fishy, and chunky, which sounds disgusting, but was actually quite good. If you desire, you can even drink the soup like coffee, as it comes in a coffee cup. I didn’t do so, but knock yourself out, slob.

lobster bisque

Lobster bisque

My main course was filet mignon. I was surprised how good it was, to be honest. Very tender, very tasty, and had a nice, mild mystery sauce atop it. The zucchini side I didn’t like, and neither did I like the mushrooms, the latter of which I happily shoveled off to my daughter, and she happily ate them. Win-win.

Filet mignon

Filet mignon

And finally, the course you’ve all been waiting for. I went with the chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. Neither was outstanding, both were good, and the ice cream came in a bowl of caramelized sugar. I like edible dishes – the feeling of cleaning my plate is very rewarding. And there was some fruit on my plate, but that was just filler.

Cake and ice cream

Cake and ice cream

The big disappointment of the night was that lack of Aztec Coffee, a flaming after-dinner drink that was a big hit on our last visit. But according to the waiter, once someone saw the Aztec Coffee being poured, everyone wanted it (rightly so), and that slowed down service too much. Too bad, but at least I have a video of it from my last trip.

Despite the downer of no potentially disastrous flaming beverages, it was a nice meal as a good pace in an elegant little restaurant. I recommend La Brasserie if you are staying at  Barceló Maya and choose to pull yourself away from the great buffets for a quieter dinner.