Blue Bayou Restaurant - dinner - October 31, 2004

The Blue Bayou is a restaurant that many people rave about, but I've always been less enamoured by it than most. I've enjoyed lunches at The Blue Bayou, but mostly because of the company I was with. I found the food to be ok (the much heralded Monte Cristo has never been something that has interested me), and the service was usually slow and inattentive, so it had been several years since I'd even had lunch there. It was somewhere I'd agree to go if friends asked but not something I'd suggest on my own. It's also a more expensive restaurant than you might expect, partly because of its atmosphere and the view of the bayou with its passing boats carrying travelers into the Pirates of the Caribbean. I've never had dinner there before, except for during special events.

I was with a friend this day, celebrating her birthday, and since she had never eaten at the Blue Bayou before, she chose it for her birthday dinner. I figured it was a good excuse for me to try a regular dinner there. I'd heard a while back that they had switched over to a "priority seating reservation only" system, but there was conflicting information about whether that was true, so we stopped by around 4:00 to ask. I spoke to the hostess, and she said that the first priority seating reservation was for 9:10. I asked her if they were taking walk-ups, and she said yes, though there would be about a half hour to hour wait. I said ok, and that we'd be back later to put our names for walk-up, and she said ok.

We went on a few rides in the park and then made our way back to the Blue Bayou at about 6:30. I again went up to the podium and told the hostess there that I would like to be put on the walk-up waiting list, and she told me that they weren't accepting walk-ups. I expressed my surprise to her and told her that I had been told two hours previously that they did allow walk-ups. She said that was only if they had cancellations. I told her that if that was their normal policy, then perhaps they should instruct everyone not just to tell people that walk-ups were ok, as if I'd known they weren't going to take walk-ups, we would have made alternate plans for dinner. She said she'd check to see if there were any cancellations, but said there'd still be a wait, and I told her that I'd been told that there would be a half hour to hour wait for walk-ups and I was fine with that. She went inside for a while, and when she came back, she said that she could take my name, but that it would be about an hour wait. I thanked her, and my friend and I stayed nearby to wait for our table. Our wait ended up being about 45 minutes, and then we were taken to our table. We ended up going fairly deep into the restaurant, and I was very pleasantly surprised to see that they were taking us to the far table right by the water. I hadn't asked for a waterside table because of the problem getting into the restaurant in the first place, so I was happy that we ended up at a waterside table anyway.

Shortly thereafter, our server came by and took our drink orders, and bread was brought to the table. The server then returned to take our orders, and then we sat back to enjoy the view and atmosphere.

Blue Bayou is an indoor restaurant that is dimly lit. Lanterns are hung over the dining area, added to the wonderful atmosphere. From where we sat, we could hear the banjo playing in the background. The atmosphere is periodically interrupted by boat riders calling over to diners, but that is one of the hazards of having a waterside table.

As a starter, we had decided to share the andouille sausage-stuffed mushrooms with warm sauteed pepper salad. We were a bit surprised when the dish was brought to us as it contained four fairly large mushrooms. The sausage was wonderfully spicy, and the pepper salad definitely added to the flavor of the dish. We agreed that it was a fairly large appetizer and would probably be better shared among four people, especially if everyone was ordering an entree.

Each of the entrees comes with a choice of Mardi Gras salad with caramelized onions or creole vegetable gumbo or classic New Orleans clam chowder. We each chose the clam chowder and very much enjoyed that.

For an entree, I had chosen the cajun tri-tip with Blue Bayou potatoes and sauteed vegetables. It was a very generous serving of tri-tip, and it had good flavor, but after filling up with the appetizer and soup preceding, I ended up leaving quite a bit of the entree on the plate.

My friend had chosen the prime rib with Blue Bayou potatoes and southern style popover with sauteed vegetables. The prime rib can be ordered in a regular cut and a larger cut, and my friend had chosen the regular cut. She very much enjoyed her meal, and she cut me a piece of the prime rib to try, and the flavor was absolutely wonderful, with good texture as well.

For dessert, we decided to split the vanilla creme brulee, as my friend really loves creme brulee. I also love creme brulee, but I generally find vanilla to be a bit boring, but theirs was quite good. Very nice flavor and the caramelized top layer was quite thick, so it was fun to break through and tasty once we had.

The service was terrific, with my water glass being filled multiple times during the course of our meal. Our server also came by to check on us periodically. Two of the problems I had always encountered at the Blue Bayou was difficulty in getting refills and in getting the attention of our server. This evening, neither of those problems arose. Except for the problem of trying to get a table at all, everything else was perfect. I was quite happy that the Blue Bayou was now a restaurant that I would be delighted to visit again for dinner. If you absolutely want to eat there, I would definitely suggest obtaining a priority seating reservation, though, since their policy on walk-ups seems to be still in flux. If you want a waterside table, you cannot request that at the time you make your reservation. When you check in at the podium (and I would suggest checking in about 15 minutes early), ask for a waterside table then, and they will let you know how much longer the wait is at that point.


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