Bayou Bakery, Courthouse, VA

After a tennis grudge match, my nemesis and I stopped into Bayou Bakery for an early dinner on Wednesday evening, and ordered various small plates:

Beignets ($3 for 3) – These are the one thing you must order each and every time you come here. They’re not only offered for breakfast (the breakfast menu ends at 11 AM), but all day long. At the pick-up station, you can see them being fried to order, right before your eyes. These are tremendous beignets: get them.

Muff-a-lotta ($7) – There’s no doubting the quality of ingredients in this sandwich (like Screwtop Wine Bar, Bayou Bakery seems to rely less on the cooking technique of its savory dishes, and leans heavily on its top-notch sourcing). This comes with salami, mortadella, smoked ham, provolone, and olive salad – my fourteen-year-old nemesis still hasn’t developed a palate for olives, so a special request was made (and, after checking, cheerfully honored) to leave off the olive salad. You should not come here expecting an Italian Store-sized muffaletta, much less something from Central Grocery in New Orleans (which remains one of the great sandwiches I’ve ever eaten); this sandwich is small – almost too small for the money.

Gumbo ($4 for a cup) – Made with chicken and sausage, I thought this was tasty, but in no way did it knock me for a loop. It was not quite hot enough, and was mild almost to a fault. This is an honorable gumbo, but I just don’t see it as living up to the early, lofty praise being heaped upon it.

Boudin ($6) – Do not come here expecting a French boudin blanc or boudin noir; this is New Orleans boudin made with … well, I’ll tell you what it’s made with. I text messaged Jamie Stachowski (who makes these for Bayou) and asked him what goes into them. His reply? “Pork, rice, and koonass.” The filling does indeed have a granular, smashed-rice texture (as it should), and Bayou serves this with creole mustard and saltine crackers (it’s surprising to me how well it went with the saltines).

I got an Abita Turbodog ($5) while my nemesis got a bottle of Boylan’s Orange Cream Soda ($2.50).

After we picked up our food, we immediately realized we had under-ordered, so about two-thirds of the way through dinner, we solved the problem: I went back up to the counter, and over-ordered.

If you like Grilled Pimento Cheese ($5) sandwiches, get this one. It’s a great rendition that came out with delicious pimento cheese (and I’m not the biggest pimento cheese fan in the world), perfectly grilled, and on really good bread. Like the Muff-a-lotta, it’s a small sandwich and won’t fill you up, but if you’re straddling the fence on this one: get it.

Deviled Eggs ($3.75) are listed on the menu “with a kick,” but there just wasn’t that much kick to be found. Again, there’s no doubting the quality of these eggs, and in this strange era of restaurants serving $8 deviled egg courses, you can certainly do a lot worse than these. Plus, they went with the pimento cheese sandwich beautifully.

Listen to me now: if Bayou Bakery has what’s called a Dat O ($1.75, I think), get it. If you like Oreos, or at least the concept of Oreos, then this is your Nirvana: it is a homemade, outsized Oreo cookie. Do I really need to say more? Turn off your mind, forget about what’s unimportant in life, and be a kid again. If you don’t get this cookie, I will show up at your house at 3 AM in a clown outfit.

I had gotten the last Turbodog, and for the second beer got an Abita Purple Haze ($5). I’m not really sure why I did, because I don’t particularly like this raspberry wheat ale – plus, it would have gone much better with the first go-round than the second. We left completely stuffed, and didn’t even touch the Dat O until breakfast the next morning (and oh, did it go well with my morning coffee).

Three days later, it was breakfast, and if you eat one meal here, this is what it should be.

Beignets ($3 for 3), again. Same things, same execution, and David Guas himself was frying them (I believe he was the time before as well). Loaded with powdered sugar on top, if you heretically consider these “donuts,” then these will be near the top of your list in the area. They are awesome.

Pain au Chocolat ($2.75) will make any French croissant snob (which I gleefully proclaim myself to be) do a somersault. It is so very difficult to do these well, and Bayou made a fantastic version. As I type this, it just dawned on me that at the end of May, I have two house guests coming from France, and I’m going to be bringing them here for breakfast more than once. This pain au chocolat will be on the program, as will the beignets.

Benton’s Bacon Biscuit ($3, egg 50 cents extra, cheese 25 cents extra) is another thing you need to try. Those biscuits were sitting there on a tray, straight from the oven, and were large, airy, and everything I would yearn for when I went to college down south, and could so rarely find. The egg itself was poorly executed – scrambled, overcooked, and folded, but you’ll like the rest of this so much that you won’t care.

I had a Small French Press ($3.25) of Counter Culture Coffee that was enough for two heaping cups full. If you’re going to lollygag here for more than fifteen minutes, do consider getting a French press instead of just a single cup – it really brings out the best in the┬áCounter Culture which is a very light roast. Nemesis had a glass of fresh-squeezed Orange Juice ($2.50) which, while obviously fresh-squeezed (I think!) just wasn’t all that good because the oranges themselves weren’t very sweet and had a slight funk. Well, I had to say something that wasn’t completely glowing, right? Okay, here’s another: based on only one dinner here (granted, a fairly extensive dinner) I think that, for savory main courses, Bayou Bakery came across as good, but not exceptional; the breakfast, on the other hand, was to die for. What a great addition to Courthouse!

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