Prudhommes Lost Cajun Restaurant
After a search thru all the topics and many positive reviews posted about this little restaurant in Columbia, Pennsylvania my family and I decide to stop there on our way back from Strasburg. I must say I was very dissapointed. Maybe all the nice things I had read got my hopes up but this is not a tucked away treasure by any means and we won't make our way back there any time soon.
I won't complain about the service as it was a busy bar afternoon (there was wedding down the street) and there seemed to be only one bartender/server. Sharon did a good job of keeping up with the tables and the bar customers and was very pleasant while she did it. The food however was nothing to be praised. It wasn't bad...we did't send it back.
We had a 1/2 bucket of crawfish, some fried alliagtor tail bits that tasted like swamp and were very greasy (maybe alligatior tastes like swamp, I always heard it tastes just like chicken!) A cajun style french onion soup (velveeta jack with croutons and some sort of vinegary watered down beef broth, not broiled) A dish of red beans and rice and blackened catfish with a rice and and some sort of red shrimp and veggie sauce (maybe this is etouffe). Oh and some Mamou Poppers which I was warned repeatedly about because of there flaming hotness...tasted like a green pepper and someone forgot to put the cheese in them.
I confess I don't know much about cajun food and this first sampling has left me unimpressed. To all those cyclist touring the hills of lancaster county looking for a good bite to eat on the way home...keep your wheels turning.
I believe it is true that the food is not as good as it once was. David Prudhoome is not in the kitchen as much. They are spending time on a new project they are developing at another location. At one time, I had a standing offer to Leff that if he met me there I would by him dinner. He never accepted. Still, I like this place.
I'm no authority on cajun food either, nor am I a big fish eater, but we find Prudhomme's good for a decent meal. My favorite thing on the menu is the BBQ shrimp appetizer, which in the cajun tradition, are not actually barbecued, but rather cooked in a sweet spicy sauce with onions and peppers that I just adore. The last time we were there, I was planning on asking for an entree portion of the shrimp over rice, but instead I ordered the special. which was an eggplant boat, deep-fried and stuffed, along with a few fried shrimp. I liked this a lot, because perversely, I prefer a lot of bread in my crabmeat stuffing. (I hate those crab cakes that are all crab.) The blackened catfish is also terrific, moist and well-seasoned.
That said, there have also been some definite disappointments here, and I honestly don't know if it's their execution that is faulty, or if this is how these dishes are supposed to taste. The gumbo and the jambalaya just do not make it for me here, and I suspect that it's them, and not me, that is at fault. I've also found the andouille sausage they use (which is in many dishes) to be unpleasant. The alligator I consider to be a tourist novelty. I've tasted it, and it wasn't awful, but I had no desire to taste any more. The crawfish are ok in the etouffe (which is the red sauce mentioned above) and better when deep-fried as cajun popcorn, but to be honest, I'm not that crazy about them. The catfish is better by itself.
So, overall, I'd say that Pruhomme's is hit and miss. Order the BBQ shrimp and the catfish platter and you can't go wrong, but avoid the geek novelties.
re: Vladimir Estragon
On our most recent visit, my wife and I both had blackened catfish filets that were tough. And I mean steak-knife tough. Not burnt, not dried out, just tough, like a gristly piece of meat. I've never heard of fish being like this. We actually sent them back (which is something we hardly ever do). My wife's was tougher, and she got a fresh filet that was ok. Only half of mine was tough and I had eaten the good part by the time we sent it back. They cooked the remaining piece some more and gave it back to me. It was no better. The waitress acted puzzled and said "Gee, I don't know what could have happened. X is in the kitchen today." (It made me wonder how bad the food was when X wasn't there.) She never really apologized, but they took $2.off of our entrees without saying anything about it. They were $16.95 to begin with, rather pricey for a rather rundown restaurant and an outdated food trend, which is why we complained. It wasn't a catastrophe, but it would be enough for me not to go back, if it wasn't for those fantastic barbecued shrinp.