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Robin's

1409 Henderson Highway, Henderson, LA - (337) 228-7594
Posted By Michael Stern on 5/5/2009 12:48:00 PM
It occurred to us as we traveled through southern Louisiana that a vast majority of restaurants have names with the possessive apostrophe. It makes sense, because these places tend to be defined by the personality of the owner/chef whose possession they are. Robin's is a perfect example. This is Lionel Robin's restaurant, with a menu that reflects his culinary taste and expertise. And chances are good that if you make any sort of inquiry about the menu or cooking techniques, you will meet Robin himself, who loves to come out of the kitchen to chat with strangers about his current culinary adventures, whether they be frozen and ready-to-heat crawfish etouffee or Tabasco ice cream.

We had a heck of a time getting to the place the first time we ate at Robin's, a few decades ago. A tipster had written the name down on a piece of paper, and as we drove through Breaux Bridge and up to the edge of the Atchafalaya Basin, we asked a lot of people to direct us to Robin's, pronouncing it just like the name of the red-breasted bird. It wasn't until we met the boss that we realized why everyone we asked had seem perplexed when we told them where we were going. The accent in Robin's name is on the second syllable -- It is pronounced Ro-ban, as in French, as in superb Cajun cooking.

Here you will eat some of the most distinctive restaurant meals in swamp country. Year around, but especially in crawfish season from early in the year through spring, this is the place to have it either simply boiled or in all the many ways Cajun chefs like to celebrate it. A Robin's crawfish dinner starts with bisque, which is smoky, complex, and rich. You then move on to a few boiled and fried ones, étouffeé over rice, boulettes, stuffed pepper, and a superior pie in which the little crustaceans share space with vegetables and plenty of garlic in a translucent-thin crust.

The one crawfish dish we might not recommend here is gumbo – not because it isn't good (it is); but because the shrimp and okra gumbo is even better. And chicken and sausage gumbo, while containing none of the seafood for which Robin's is renowned, is wonderful – brilliantly spiced, thick with sausage you will remember for a long time.

When we last stopped in, Robin had been experimenting with ice creams; and among his proudest creations were fig ice cream (figs are a local crop), a Belgian chocolate ice cream for chocoholics only, and the amazing Tabasco ice cream with its fetching sweet heat.

Although Henderson is out in the cane fields pretty far from civilization as we know it, Robin's is a polite and sophisticated restaurant. You can easily spend $20 on dinner, and pay for it with a credit card. This notation on the menu is no affectation: "Ici Nous Parlons Français." Et nous bien mangons!

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Crawfish Dinner
Tabasco Ice Cream
Large Gumbo
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Lionel Robin has perfected the preparation of crawfish etoufee to the extent that he sells it canned or frozen, ready to go. While it isn't the same as dining here, it's pretty darn spectacular.
"Lionel Robin has perfected the preparation of crawfish etoufee to the extent that he sells it canned or frozen, ready to go. While it isn't the same as dining here, it's pretty darn spectacular."
Michael Stern





A glorious sight in Robin's kitchen was this giant vat of local crawfish, ready to be made into etouffee.
"A glorious sight in Robin's kitchen was this giant vat of local crawfish, ready to be made into etouffee."
Michael Stern


Robin's crawfish dinner includes crawfish bisque (not shown), fried crawfish, crawfish cocktail, stuffed bell pepper, boulette, crawfish etoufee, and crawfish pie.
"Robin's crawfish dinner includes crawfish bisque (not shown), fried crawfish, crawfish cocktail, stuffed bell pepper, boulette, crawfish etoufee, and crawfish pie. "
Cliff Strutz


Lionel Robin preparing his famous crawfish etouffee
"Lionel Robin preparing his famous crawfish etouffee"
Michael Stern


Lionel Robin is understandably proud of his homemade ice cream.  Clockwise from left: vanilla, coconut, Tabasco, and fig.  Three of us voted the vanilla the best, the other thought coconut was tops.  Truthfully, all were excellent!
"Lionel Robin is understandably proud of his homemade ice cream. Clockwise from left: vanilla, coconut, Tabasco, and fig. Three of us voted the vanilla the best, the other thought coconut was tops. Truthfully, all were excellent!"
Cliff Strutz


In the heart of crawfish country, Robin's is the one restaurant to visit if you want to taste the best.
"In the heart of crawfish country, Robin's is the one restaurant to visit if you want to taste the best."
Michael Stern



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