Big round beer trays heaped with crawfish emerge from the kitchen trailing hot spiced steam through the dining room as accordion notes with a triangle beat bounce from the bandstand like runaway superballs. Set back from the two-lane in the middle of nothing but rice fields and crawfish ponds, far from any town or major highway, D.I.’s is a brimful measure of Acadiana.
Daniel Isaac (“D.I.”) Fruge has been known for his well-seasoned crawdads for several decades now. Back in the 1970s when he was a rice and soybean farmer, he began harvesting them, then boiling and serving them on weekends to locals: $5 for all you could eat. They were served in his barn the traditional way – strewn in heaps across the table – with beer to drink on the side.
D.I. and his wife Sherry now run a restaurant with a full menu that includes steaks, crabs, oysters, frog legs, flounder, and shrimp, but local crawfish, infused with brilliant spice, are still the star of the menu. The classic way to enjoy them is boiled and piled onto the beer tray – a messy meal that rewards vigorous tail-pulling and head sucking with an unending procession of the vibrant sweetwater richness that only crawdads deliver. You can have them crisp-fried – an excellent idea here in Cajun country, yielding bite-size morsels with a salty crunch; and there are crawfish pie, etouffee, and bisque.
No longer a makeshift annex to Monsieur Fruge’s barn, D.I.’s is a big, modern place with multiple dining rooms and a real bandstand and dance floor. The Cajun music starts every night at 7.