I had no intention of eating a meal at T-Coons. Walking back to the hotel from a breakfast of swanky pastries at Poupart Patisserie, I couldn’t help but pause at the T-Coon’s window signs advertising smothered rabbit and hot beignets. From its parking lot, this place looks like any ordinary short-order café, but here in south Louisiana, ordinary is a word that rarely applies to restaurants. In fact, T-Coon’s is a bonanza for anyone in search of from-scratch regional fare.
I would call it Cajun, except that its chef and owner, David Billeaud, prefers the term Zydeco. He says, “Zydeco implies a mix of the Creole and Cajun influences exclusive to this area of Southern Louisiana.” And boy, oh, boy, you sure can taste what he is talking about – not just in unique regional specialties on the menu from catfish courtbouillon and crawfish etouffee to warm bread pudding for dessert, but in the fact that everything – EVERYTHING – served here is far better than you’d expect in a casual neighborhood eatery where locals come to chat and chew.
Breakfast potatoes, for example, are no perfunctory side dish. When I debated among grits, potatoes, and oatmeal, waitress Nicole recommended the spuds because, as she put it, “They are cooked down with onions, and seasoned.” Oh, yes, they are: brilliantly spiced and caramelized-onion-sweet with variegated texture from soft to crunchy.
Toast to go with eggs? That’s made here, too: white or whole wheat comes in thick half-slices that are ideal for dipping into the yolk of a fried egg or for mopping up gravy. Smoked sausage is local, but not from this kitchen, so I went for the ordinary (not) sausage, which is made here. It is a broad, juicy, rugged patty; and like so much of what I ate at T-Coon’s, it glows with exuberant spices.
I am so sorry that I had to leave town shortly after finding this place. There is a daily lunch buffet featuring the likes of red beans and rice (with sausage, of course), baked or fried chicken, smothered beef or pork, shrimp and okra stew, short rib fricassee, and that every-Monday smothered rabbit. I am eager to return!