Café des Amis
140 E. Bridge St., Breaux Bridge
THREE STARS (out of four)
We continue our road trip survey of restaurants that’s as well known for its festive atmosphere as for its food: Café des Amis.
This restaurant is in the middle of historic downtown Breaux Bridge and on the right day it can feel like the very heart of town. That would be on Saturday during the Zydeco Breakfast. It’s been an institution for Café des Amis for years, and today it’s as fun as ever. A zydeco band sets up in the front window bar and jams as guests push aside their brunch plates and dance between the tables. The place is packed on Saturdays, and scoring a table usually requires a bit of a wait. Here’s some scoop to avoid the crowds: the restaurant also hosts music on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, when the scene is much more mellow. However, part of the fun of Saturdays here is joining the swirling crowd for a morning time party. Throughout the week, you’ll find a charismatic country restaurant with a big, antique bar, bare wood floors and the signatures of hundreds of past patrons scrawled (or sometimes doodled) on the white walls.
Traditional Cajun flavor is the main ingredient here, though the kitchen adds enough of its own stamp to make it stand out. Wedges of cornbread with crawfish tails baked in and crawfish etouffee over the top, the alligator sausage and crawfish cheesecake and the crab-stuffed mushrooms are all go-to starters for lunch and dinner, while at breakfast and brunch try the “orielle de cochon,” which are oversized beignets stuffed with boudin.
The stars of the morning menu mix eggs, boudin, tasso and etouffee in one form or another, like the “big hat” omelet or the eggs des amis. Brunch adds some of the more ambitious dishes from the dinner menu. Some favorites are the oven roasted duck, which is glazed with pepper jelly syrup and served with dirty rice, and the tuna Rockefeller, a thick-cut plank of fish, grilled to a ruby-red rare inside, on a bed of creamed spinach (the Rockefeller part) and topped with etouffee (the Cajun part). The menu can get a little repetitive, drawing so much on the same core ingredients and sauces, but provided you don’t eat like this all the time the big flavors are enough to keep the meal entertaining.
Bread pudding and chocolate pecan pie are the usual suspects on the dessert list, though the one to try is the gateau sirop, which is a traditional Cajun cane syrup cake, all dark and moist and dressed up with roasted pecans and ice cream.
There’s a full bar with a specialty in bloody Marys and mimosas for the morning crowd.
Café des Amis is moderate during daytime meals, with most main courses in the $10 to $15 range, while at dinner the entrees range up to the low-$20s.
Café des Amis is a spirited, highly charismatic restaurant, worth a meal anytime you’re in Breaux Bridge, a special detour for a day when music is part of the program and a road trip destination of its own to experience the Zydeco Breakfast at least once in your Louisiana experience.