From Disappointment to Delight in an Hour: Crazy Johnnie’s Steak House in Metairie, LA

Food, Restaurant Reviews, Restaurants

013 Crazy Johnnie's, Metairie
As I came into New Orleans for the Memorial Day weekend, my plan was to head to a new burger joint called Fire House Burgers in Metairie, a new concept from the folks at Drago’s Seafood Restaurant which had opened in January. Drago’s is great, and I had imagined that their burger offshoot would be too, so one can imagine my surprise at finding the place closed and evidently out of business after less than sixth months. With it already being 9 PM, my choices were somewhat limited. Drago’s has great seafood, but I had set my heart on beef, so I decided to try the place across the street, Crazy Johnnie’s Steak House, which had gotten reasonable reviews on Yelp and which I knew had been around since the 1970’s.
Crazy Johnnie’s is unlike any steakhouse I have ever been in before. It is basically a bar, and a dive bar at that. Its steak menu grew out of a “Steak Night” bar promotion, and has always featured steaks at far below standard pricing, such as the $17.95 filet mignon that I decided to try (you’ll likely pay that much for a burger these days at some of the more trendy New American bistros). Frankly, the filet mignon was well-seasoned, cooked to perfection, thick and juicy, better than its more-expensive equivalents at Longhorn or Outback, and it actually came with a side dish as well. When my waitress told me that Crazy Johnnie’s had no french fries or baked potatoes, only mashed potatoes called Crazy Potatoes, I was briefly disappointed, at least until my food arrived. I don’t particularly like mashed potatoes as a rule, but these were amazing and tremendous, cheesy and buttery, with garlic and herbs and bacon, and a bit of a hot kick that was hard to identify. And I have to add that as I was enjoying all of these culinary delights, great Louisiana R & B was playing from the speakers overhead. The place I had settled for as a backup proved to be a stellar food experience.
If you’re hoping to experience Crazy Johnnie’s, now is the time to act. The restaurant’s owners threatened to close down in 2013,due both to age and the rising price of beef, but public response took the form of a massive increase in business, so they decided to stay open for the foreseeable future, but they should not be taken for granted. The next time you’re in the New Orleans area, make it a point to eat there.

Crazy Johnnie’s Steak House
3520 18th Street
Metairie, LA 70002
(504) 887-6641
http://www.crazyjohnnies.net

Timeless Perfection at Monroe’s Waterfront Grill

Food, Restaurant Reviews, Restaurants


One of the beauties of Monroe, Louisiana is the abundance of water. Downtown sits on the Ouachita River, and the north and east are along Bayou DeSiard, so lovely waterfront views are everywhere, and several restaurants in the city take advantage of that, including the Waterfront Grill, built on the shore of Bayou DeSiard near the campus of the University of Louisiana at Monroe. For over 20 years, the Waterfront Grill has been treating Monroyans to gorgeous sunsets and some of the best food in Louisiana, from seafood of all kinds to filet mignon, to casual sandwiches and burgers. True perfection in restaurants is rare. Sometimes good food is marred by indifferent service, or an attractive setting is ruined by mediocre food or high prices, but the Waterfront Grill offers consistently good food, with impeccable service in a lovely setting at prices that might not be cheap, but are reasonable. And in 19 visits or so over as many years, I have never once had a disappointment. Few restaurants can meet that standard.

Waterfront Grill
5201 DeSiard Street
Monroe, LA 71203
(318) 345-0064
Closed Sundays

Dinner at Crawdad’s in Merigold

Food, Restaurant Reviews, Restaurants


This year has not been a good one in Clarksdale as far as restaurants, so those attending the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival actually had to venture out of town a ways if they wanted an upscale dining experience. I decided to try Crawdad’s in Merigold, a place that was recommended by the Delta Bohemian website. The little town of Merigold, in Bolivar County, is probably best-known for being the home of McCarty’s Pottery, which is world-famous and made from the unique clays of the Mississippi Delta. It is also the home of Po’ Monkey’s Juke Joint on the outskirts of town. But Crawdad’s, nearly a block long, is the center of attention on weekend nights in Merigold. The menu consists of steaks and seafood, and there is a bar and a stage where live music takes place. The inside ambiance is largely that of a hunting lodge, with various ducks, deer heads and even raccoons on the walls. I ordered the 8-ounce bacon-wrapped filet mignon, and was pleased. It was charcoal broiled, and had been prepared with what tasted like a fruit-based marinade. Prices are a little steep perhaps by Delta standards, but of course it is an upscale dining experience, and worth checking out.

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The Ranchero is an old-school place along old Highway 61 in Clarksdale, and a definite must-visit for lovers of great steaks and seafood. On the particular night I was there, the Juke Joint Festival had the place packed to capacity, particularly the 65 or so students from the Stax Academy in Memphis. They thanked the restaurant staff by singing a lovely version of “There Is A Balm In Gilead”, an unexpected performance for employees and patrons alike. 

A Great Steak Dinner in the Delta at The Cowpen in Lake Village, AR

Food, Restaurant Reviews, Restaurants

My cousin Marcy was up from Miami visiting my Uncle Owen and his wife Nancy in Greenville, Mississippi, so I drove down on Friday the 17th to see them, and we ended up going across the river to the Cow Pen steakhouse near Lake Village, Arkansas. Few restaurants have offered as perfect a meal as I had here, with a filet mignon and baked potato. Not fancy, and nothing unusual, but just classic American steak and potatoes done reaqlly well. Well, there is one thing unusual. They offer Italian and Mexican menu items as well, and I was told by those who tried them that they were good as well. Not inexpensive, although nowhere near what a similar meal would cost in a big-city steakhouse.