Ronnie’s Cajun Café
541 W. Laurel Ave.
Food: Sandwiches and gumbo
“There’s a hundred thousand Frenchmen in New Orleans
In New Orleans there are Frenchmen everywhere
But your house could fall down
Your baby could drown
Wouldn’t none of those Frenchmen care”
— Randy Newman from “Kingfish”
If there are 100,000 Frenchmen in New Orleans, then you know there are 100,000 versions of gumbo in Louisiana.
That makes gumbo tough to critique.
Especially out here 150 miles west of New Orleans in the heart of Cajun Country – one of the rural areas that populist Governor “Kingfish” Huey Long won over on his rise to power.
You might like chicken in your gumbo. I might like sausage. Or crab. Or shrimp.
Spicy or mild.
Then there’s the entire okra versus file debate.
File is ground up sassafras which Cajuns traditionally used to thicken their gumbo.
But okra does the same thing.
And I when think of gumbo, I think of okra – especially in summer when okra is in season.
Heck, the name “gumbo” comes from an African word for okra.
So I wasn’t sure what to make of Ronnie’s version. There was no okra to be found in my gumbo. Actually there wasn’t much of anything to be found except a few tiny shrimps and a lot of spice.
But look, I’m just some Irish guy from the east coast. To critique the gumbo served smack dab in the bowels of Cajun Country? I think not!
So maybe this was the way gumbo was supposed to be. A thin, spicy broth with a smattering of tiny shrimp.
But I can’t say I was impressed.
Part of my problem was that Ronnie’s Cajun Café was just about the only place open in the entire town of Eunice on this Saturday afternoon.
My choice was Ronnie’s or Sonic.
My choice to dine at Ronnie’s was not because of rave reviews or extensive research, but by process of elimination. My first three choices were all closed.
Plus, the cool sign of the alligator on the rooftop kinda sells the place.
But the swampy ambiance doesn’t carry to the inside. No live bands or even background Cajun music. No happy gators decorating the walls.
No, Ronnie’s is just a local place to grab a sandwich and some gumbo and get back to your day.
That casual attitude extends to the menu too.
The best thing I can say about my gumbo is that Ronnie’s definitely doesn’t skimp on the Cajun spices. I kept reaching for my tall glass of southwest Louisiana tap water to keep the fire down.
But overall, there just isn’t much about Ronnie’s to get excited about.
Of course if the Kingfish were still here, I’m sure he’d tell Ronnie it was the best damn gumbo in the whole great state of Louisiana.
But that’s the difference between me and the Kingfish. I’m not running for anything.
Rating: Would Wear The Shirt If It Were Free.