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Restaurant Review: Swamp Tails

August 14, 2015

Everything that is wrong with Swamp Tails can be expressed in one fundamental flaw:  They use Old Bay seasoning.

Don’t get me wrong, Old Bay is a great seasoning.  I’m personally allergic to it, so I make my own version for when the cooking calls for it, but it’s still good stuff.  It is, however, not Cajun.  It is very much a New England style seasoning with the slightly sweeter, more “baked goods” types of spices.  Creole seasoning tend to be more herbaceous and earthy, with a lot more “hot sauce” types of spices.  It’s a subtle difference, but if you’re going to run a Cajun style restaurant, the least you can do is use the right seasoning.  Especially when there are so many excellent and widely available Cajun seasonings out there.

The menu looked pretty good at first glance.  Gumbo, etouffee, jambalaya, all the usuals.  Aps included boudin balls, and there was a liberal use of andouille sausage throughout the menu (although I cannot personally speak to the quality of their boudin or the andouille).  I will admit to bombarding the waitress with a ton of questions about the various dishes.  Their roux is flour based, which is a usually a good sign.  However, the crawfish etouffee was described as being served over creamy cheese grits.

I’ll give the Cajuns in the audience a moment to recover.  I know I needed one.

For those of you who have never had a good etouffee:  1) I’m so sorry, you are really missing out and 2) Etouffee is served over rice.  Or sometimes under it, if the restaurant is feeling fancy.  Regardless.  Not.  Grits.  Apparently several reviewers found this to be a “nice twist,” but I personally think a restaurant should get good at the basics before trying to get fancy with things.  And sadly, the basics were lacking.

Moose got the fried catfish basket and while the portion seemed to be pretty decent, the fish was declared “a little bland.”  He also felt the Old Bay seasoning on the fries was a little much.  I got my fries without the seasoning and was given a small dish of Slap Ya Mama to use instead of the Old Bay.  The fries were pretty good this way, though they are thick cut fries, which is not my personal preference.

The major issue was my Po-Boy.  It came out on sub roll, not a baguette as promised by the menu.  So it didn’t have the nice crispy crust required to hold everything together.  Not that there was much to hold together.  Mine came with a meager 6 shrimp, all of no more than an inch or so.  It was also very over dressed, so the whole thing was just a sad, soggy mess.

And just for the hell of it, Acorn had the mini corn dogs.  It came with a side of mandarin oranges, so she refused to eat anything until she was allowed to finish those.  And then she ate handfuls of Slap Ya Mama (that’s my girl!) and refused to eat her corn dogs until Moose cut them up smaller.  She also ate a portion of his catfish, after stabbing it repeatedly with her fork.  She did like the catfish, so we probably would have done better with the kids portion of catfish bites.  Such are the vagaries of a toddler’s appetite.

We will probably not be returning to Swamp Tails.  There are quite a few decent reviews on Yelp, so it’s possible they will manage to break the curse of this location and stay in business for longer than a year.  But with a new Razzoo’s opening on the 17th, and a Pappadeaux’s on the horizon, this place is going to have to step up its game to compete.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2015 12:56 pm

    Grits? Really? That’s not a twist on etouffee so much as a combination of dishes (likely etouffee / (southern)shrimp and grits) in a very weird way.

  2. April 16, 2016 5:50 pm

    Randomly found your blog on a search for used kids faire clothing (I have no idea how I quickly landed on your 9 sniggery costumes post, but YES! LOL)… Nice to “meet” you but I am overwhelmingly compelled to point out that Old Bay is solidly Mid-Atlantic (where I live now, married to Mr. Scrapple/Crabcake man from DelaWHERE?), not New England. The titular “Bay” is the Chesapeake. But NO it certainly ain’t Cajun! Anyhoo… carry on…

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