Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Talk of My Town: Salt Water Willy's Bayou Cafe- A Review

My friend, Wayne Michelli, longtime proprietor of Kingsport's Riverfront Seafood Company Market and Grill, has opened Saltwater Willy's Bayou Cafe, located in the old Amato's building on Jack White Drive in Kingsport. As you could probably figure out by the name, the specialty is Cajun/creole recipes and seafood.

I am going to begin this review in a rather odd way by addressing two issues that some would consider negatives. First, Wayne has earned quite a reputation around town as "The Seafood Nazi," a moniker borrowed from the great Seinfeld episode about the Soup Nazi. This nickname was earned because, well, how should I say this... sometimes Wayne handles confrontation a little clumsily. Rather than acquiescing to the customer when disputes arise, he stands his ground. I am not going to argue this point or pass judgment. Can't help but think of a story that culminates with, "He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone."

All I know is Wayne is a committed Christian businessman who treats his employees well and now owns two establishments that make some AMAZING food. I've never had an issue, nor do I expect to.

Secondly, one of the first complaints people will voice about Saltwater Willy's will be the prices. This is NOT a chain restaurant in the vein of Cheddar's, O'Charley's, or Chili's and it should not be judged against those. The pricing is roughly as follows:

Appetizers: $5-$10
Sandwiches and Po' Boys: $6-$10
Entrees: $9-$25 and some market priced seafood specialties
Desserts: $5-$9

The recipes are authentic. The real deal. The Cajun dishes utilize some ingredients only found in the Louisiana area and no short cuts are taken. The seafood is fresh. The meats are prime. In my opinion, the food is WELL WORTH the price paid. Kingsport needs more places that offer "something special" and not another dozen Mexican restaurants or Chinese buffets.

Now for the good stuff! AAAAaaaahhh EEEEEEEEE! Dat some good food, dare!

If you only sample one appetizer, make it the Crawfish Pie. It is out of this world. The frog legs and calamari are great too.

One entree that is sure to please and probably become a star is the "Voodoo Pasta Jambalaya." It is a mix of pasta Alfredo with Cajun spices, crawfish, shrimp and sausage. It would make a guppy slap a whale! All the usual suspects are present too. Crawfish and shrimp etouffee (I had the crawfish etouffee tonight), gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, as well as many others.

Lay aside any misconceptions that Cajun food is too hot and spicy. There are PLENTY of choices that are mild and many other things that are not Cajun at all.

Paige had the Louisiana catfish with a crab reduction sauce and a side of Cajun cheese grits that was something special. My father enjoyed a man-size portion of a stuffed pork chop entree with baked sweet potato, most of which ended up in a to-go box. My mom and sister enjoyed their Po' Boy sandwiches, which are authentic right down to the French baguette bread.

Two desserts, among many, not to be missed are the Jimmy Lee Pie w/ ice cream (a recipe borrowed from the original Saltwater Willy's that was on New Beasonwell Road in Kingsport 20 years ago) and the bread pudding.

They offer a reduced price lunch menu, as well as, a children's menu.

The Bottom Line
I love Cajun fare and this is great Cajun fare! I am super excited about having another original restaurant that offers excellent food and service. You definitely need to give it a try. You will not be sorry.

If you see Wayne, tell him Tiger sent you. I ought to, at the least, get dessert out of this.

Grace and Peace

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Great Quote

As if new University of Tennessee head football coach, Derek Dooley, needed to do anything else to further endear himself to me, he did.  When asked to elaborate on his offensive line play he had this to say:
“It’s hard,” Dooley said. “Offensive line is a thinking man’s game, I hate to say it. You have to combine some great physical toughness and endurance, but you have to be so mentally sharp. It’s very difficult to play offensive line if you can’t think quickly and react.”

And with that quote, Coach Dooley moves into Tiger's Pantheon of Coaching Greatness (thanks to Keith Coates for that little nugget.) Coach Dooley speaketh the truth. As a former lineman, I grow weary of all the dumb jock, "Football been very, very good to me," mumbo jumbo. Almost without fail, look at grades/academic performance of any college football team and the linemen will be at or near the top. 

Yes, we have a good one here, my friends!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Chris August's Candy Song

Chris August is a rising Christian music singer/songwriter. His album, "No Far Away," is in stores now. It is great and you need it!

When Chris came and performed at our church last Monday (with Chris Sligh), he performed this little diddy which was written to proclaim his love for candy. I asked him if he had recorded it yet, officially, and he had not. He probably needs to because it is a real crowd-pleaser.

I was able to find it on YouTube. It was recorded at a live performance at what appears to be a small venue in Texas.