It's an institution. That's a phrase I've heard people use when describing their love of the local Cajun restaurant Yats. It's quirky, local, has delicious food, cheap, and fast. Everything that I love about restaurants. I had never experienced Cajun food in Indianapolis outside of Yats until The Girlfriend and I recently took a trip to Mudbugs Cajun Cafe in the Carmel Arts and Design District. Did Mudbugs live up to my Yats expectations? Well at least Mudbugs was local.
The Girlfriend and I decided one evening to take a trip to Carmel to walk around and find food inspiration in the Arts and Design District after our original dinner plans fell through. While there are several options in the District some of them struck us as a little more expensive than what we were looking for on this particular evening. We wanted something very casual that wasn't bar food. We settled on Mudbugs because I was jonesing for some etouffe and I talked The Girlfriend into getting a Po' Boy. When we first walked in I was encouraged. It had a lot of the Yats feel. Order at the counter, get your own drinks, menu in chalk on the wall, and a cozy local feel. I even enjoyed seeing an expanded menu. However, after we ordering was pretty much the time to stop being excited and start getting frustrated.
I ordered the 3 dish combo (3 small portions of jambalaya, crayfish casserole, and shrimp etouffee) and The Girlfriend got the Chicken Po' Boy. With 2 sodas the whole meal totaled almost $24 or about $10 more than it costs for what we get at Yats. That in and of itself made me unhappy, but we were trying some new things and I thought there was room for redemption. I was wrong.
Even though it seemed to me that everything we ordered should have been served up quickly due to being prepared ahead of time (no one is making jambalaya a la minute) it took almost half an hour for our food to be brought to our table. When it finally did arrive it was definitely not anything to celebrate. All three of my dishes were incredibly bland. If you're making Cajun food that should be a cardinal sin. The best part of the meal were the shrimp in my etouffee. They had good flavor and were cooked nicely, but there were so few and so small they were hard to find. The casserole had rubbery crayfish, and there was absolutely nothing at all memorable about the jambalaya other than the color was rather unappetizing. My meal was also served with a piece of toasted French bread which was nice, but definitely not as good as I've had at Yats. The Girlfriend's Po' Boy was also pretty disappointing. It was fried chicken strips that were obviously frozen and not hand breaded. All in all not a great experience and I doubt we'll be going back any time soon.
Taste 2/10 Normally I would consider giving bland food maybe a 4 or 5 as average, but damn this is CAJUN food. It's supposed to be all about flavor and spice. When there is none it deserves an extra penalty. Also frozen chicken strips on the signature sandwich? Come on man.
Value 0/10 The goose egg is harsh I know, but it deserved the whole way. Disappointing food, a ridiculous wait for food, and higher prices than a better competitor are the perfect storm.
The idea for this blog is to blog about everything I think about food and food culture. I'll tell you what I like to eat, where I like to eat it and if I thought it was good or if I thought it was crap. My thoughts about food could go anywhere. Hey if you don't like it go blog at methodicaldudereallythinksalotaboutthefoodhesgoingtoeat.blogspot.com