Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > New Jersey >
Feb 16, 2009 10:56 AM

Bayou Cafe Freehold


Toady, once again, I found myself first in line to try something new. Although the Bayou Cafe has been in the area (Manasquan) for quite a while now, and this new space on 32 W. Main St. in Freehold has been open for dinner for a few weeks too, today was their first day serving lunch. So, at noonish, Mrs. Seal and I were seated and ready to eat.

First of all, even though I am more a foodie than remotely interested in decor, even I have to admit they did a really nice job on the place. From the purple and gold color scheme to the big, airy space to the welcoming music, this is not your typical Freehold joint. If I closed my eyes I could easily imagine I was somewhere on Bourbon St.

I must confess that I went into lunch really wanting to like this place. Heaven knows we need some varied cuisine in the area, and anything not Italian or Mexican or Chinese is most welcome. Still, I have my high standards, so, wishing aside, I was prepared for anything. Thank goodness the food was up to the challenge.

We started off by sharing a big bowl of Creole Gumbo. I am such a gumbo snob that even the Gumbo Shop in New Orleans didn't thrill me, so the mere fact that we finished the large bowl says something. The broth was redolent of seafood, even though I didn't notice any pieces of seafood amidst the copious pieces of meat and vegetables. There was also some meat, but not the usual spicy sausage, and a bit of okra. I might have wanted it spicier and thicker, but it was good and my spice-averse wife liked it too.

Next we shared a plate of Barbeque Shrimp and a plate of Brown Stew Fish. There were a good amount of medium size shrimp covered with a thick, butter-based sauce over rice. Again, I wanted it spicier, but my wife loved it as it was so I was glad it was mild. The Brown Stew Fish was also mild but flavorful and full with fresh veggies. I also liked the beans and rice that accompanied it. Together we finished every last bit of both dishes.

As full as we were, we had previously decided to try the Bananas Foster. Even though I had made us Bananas Foster French Toast for breakfast yesterday, I am glad we ordered it. It was really good. Two scoops of ice cream and a sweet brown sauce full of bananas - what's not to like? I was also glad there was no flaming the dish at the table touristy stuff ;o)

So now I am thinking about returning there next week to celebrate Mardi Gras. If it wasn't so soon I would even think about trying to organize a Hound Get-together. But, one way or another, I am sure I will be eating there again soon.

  1. Seal, sounds really tasty. Finally a reason to visit Freehold. The Gumbo, Brown Stew Fish and Banana's Foster have me hungry :)
    Nice central location for a possible hound get together.

    1. Great review Seal. Thanks. I will add it to my list.

      3 Replies
      1. re: bgut1

        we live in town and were just talking about going there for Mardi Gras. Was there any mention of it on your visit - special menu or anything? I just got the email from Drew's about their MG menu.

        1. re: mbw1024

          I don't know, most ethnic places just become totally in the weeds on their respective holidays. What I've learned: Go to Irish pub on Mardi Gras. Go to Mexican place on St Patric's day. Go to Cajun/Creole place on Cinco de Mayo.

          Valentines and Mothers day? Major ameture dining out nights everywhere. Stay home.

          1. re: mbw1024

            I was there last night, and was told they will be having a week long celebration with a buffet. They are also planning on having entertainment down the road. It's a great room, but with those high ceilings- I dunno.
            Also, they will be closed on Sundays and Saturday afternoons for private parties.
            The jambalaya and crawfish etouffe were both excellent, btw.

        2. Thanks for the review, seal. Although we've never been to the Manasquan location, we will definitely give Bayou in Freehold a try asap, given your "thumbs up" review, and the fact that it's so conveniently located for us. I'm sure Mr. R., the jambalaya addict, will immediately check that out to see how it compares to the excellent version at Drew's.

          I called Bayou in Freehold for additional info and was told that the menu is essentially the same as the one in Manasquan. They are open for lunch and dinner Monday - Friday, dinner only on Saturday, and as joslyn mentioned below, closed for public dining on Sunday.

          Freehold Tel.: 732-845-1800

          3 Replies
          1. re: RGR

            For what it's worth, I've had favorable experiences in Manasquan. This is much closer and I we will certainly be going. The BBQ Shrimp app is really good as was the Jambalaya. Drew's is way better but he is a tough act to follow.

            1. re: angelo04


              We had dinner at Bayou last evening. I'll be posting a more detailed review, but based on this first experience there, I definitely agree with your comment re: Drew's.

              1. re: RGR

                R - I can't wait to read your review. :)

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. Do they have a liquor license ?

              2 Replies
                1. re: RGR

                  Drew's is tops, no doubt.

                  But, having a good restaurant in Freehold serving interesting food is a huge plus. And Chef Robert at Bayou is not just cooking Cajun/Creole, but also the food from Jamaica. Some Curried Goat, Brown Stew, Oxtail, etc. is nice to have once in a while.