New restaurant offer Cajun and Creole cuisine

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cajun food . . . is it spicy? Not according to Jennifer Robinson.

"A lot of people have the wrong idea about Cajun food, it's not spicy, it's well-seasoned." said Jennifer, who owns a new restaurant in Shell Knob called On the Bayou with her husband, William.

Cajun and Creole cuisine have been described as a melting pot of cuisines, because of the array of cultures that influenced the food, including French, Portuguese, Spanish, Caribbean, American Indian and Mediterranean, just to name a few. All of these influences combine to create dishes unlike those from any other part of the country.

Even the names of the dishes on the menu are unique: etouffee, pastalaya, catfish atchafalaya and shrimp beauregard.

"We want you to feel like you are in Louisiana," Jennifer said.

The restaurant's décor, the music and the cuisine are all as authentic as possible.

"We had to train the cooks from scratch; none of them knew how to cook Cajun food," said Jennifer.

William was born in Louisiana and grew up on a strawberry farm. His mother, Lois Robinson, is the chef at On the Bayou and all the recipes she cooks have been in the family for generations. She prepares all the desserts, like Bayou Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce, for the restaurant fresh every day.

Jennifer was born and raised in southwest Missouri but lived with William in Baton Rouge, La., for six years. During those years, Jennifer came to love the way William's family interacted with each other and with all of their friends.

"Everyone is considered family," said Jennifer. "We would go to a party and William would tell me these are my friends, but we call them family."

Family gatherings were centered around food.

"That is the feeling we wanted to bring to this area, the feeling of being part of a family" said Jennifer.

William and Jennifer opened On the Bayou in August of 2009 and almost immediately had to move into a larger facility which opened in February. Jennifer was very grateful for the support of the community during the move.

"We couldn't have done it without the help we received."

Jennifer and William are planning to offer cooking demonstrations for classes of homeschooled children and want to be active participants in the community.

"We take pride in the fact that all of our food is prepared fresh daily and homemade," said Jennifer.

The couple works everyday to ensure that every customer feels like family and every dish is prepared perfectly. On the Bayou is a one-of-a-kind dining experience with food and atmosphere that invites you to come in and stay a while.

On the Bayou serves seafood dishes like Tuna Royale, Salmon Feliciana, Shrimp Beauregard and shrimp and crawfish po'boys. Also available are traditional Cajun dishes like red beans and rice, gumbo, etouffee, jambalaya and more traditional fare like catfish, sirloin steak and hamburgers. Dessert includes Bayou Bread Pudding and Key Lime Pie.

On the Bayou is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.