By Doug Deal
Macon Community News
While many of you may have been enjoying Macon Burger Week, a lesser-hyped but equally delicious story was breaking on the corner of Poplar and Third. After what has seemed like an eternity, Kudzu Seafood Company opened the doors to its new location at 512 Popular Street.
Kudzu is a Cajun-themed seafood restaurant that has been operating for several years in a cozy place on Third Street. They are well known for their seafood tacos, jambalaya pups, and their award-winning shrimp burger. The small space meant limiting the menu somewhat, but they still packed it with enough to try something different each visit.
With a significant increase in the size of the dining room and kitchen, and with the addition of a fully-equipped bar, Kudzu can now stretch their legs — and their menu — a bit. From our two visits during their opening week, it is clear that this is their time to shine.
As regular customers, my family wanted to break away from our old habits and try some of their new menu items. For our first trip, we started with an appetizer of fried crawfish boudin. This app was 8 or 9 breaded and fried balls of crawfish boudin. Boudin is sausage, and this particular variety is made from crawfish tail meat and rice. They give you a generous portion of their creamy and mildly spicy remoulade sauce for dipping. The boudin had a slightly crunchy exterior and a flavorful interior that made for a tasty starter. If you are a fan of the jam pups as an appetizer, give the boudin a shot, and you won’t be disappointed.
For one entree, we ordered the new Red Snapper Royale, which is a Cajun-grilled Gulf snapper filet topped with shrimp and Tasso cream sauce. This dish also came with creole rice and a choice of side, which as our usual was the jambalaya hushpuppies. Although loaded with color and a crisp outer layer, the inside was delicate and flakey without tasting fishy. Every bite was packed with flavor as you expect with Cajun food. Whether it was the fish alone, with the sauce or the rice, there was no wrong way to eat it.
Our second entree was Captain Lee’s platter. Although not a new item, it was the first time ordering it for us. This seafood extravaganza comes with either your choice of two or three seafood items prepared your way. We chose grilled shrimp and scallops, but there is also grouper, oysters, chicken, and soft-shelled crab. You will pay a little extra for the scallops, but they are worth it. Both the shrimp and scallops were perfectly seared and as flavorful the fish. It came with two sides, which meant the jambalaya pups and for the second side, a cup of jambalaya.
We went back a few days later to try some more new items from their expanded menu and some more old favorites. For starters, this time, we chose Jezebel sausage for our appetizer. The sausage in this dish was made from alligator and pork and was served with Jezebel sauce, which is usually made from apples, pineapples, horseradish, and mustard, resembling duck sauce. Unlike the crawfish boudin and jambalaya pups, this sausage was served as slices of link sausage, similar to kielbasa. It also comes with Ritz crackers, and the combination makes for a light and tasty snack to get you ready for your main course.
Our first selection was the LGC or Lobster Grilled Cheese. As the name implies, it is a large grilled cheese sandwich loaded with lobster meat. The smoked provolone cheese mixed with the mascarpone cheese was a unique combination that I have not had before. The creamy mascarpone cheese blended well with the savory smoked provolone, and neither overpowered the subtle flavor of the lobster. Split into three good-sized sections, this was a very filling meal, and it still came with a choice of side.
My side for grilled cheese was probably the best lobster bisque I have ever had. Large chunks of meat and a very thick and creamy base set this apart from the sometimes watery and over-cooked versions I have had at other restaurants. The lobster bisque will likely become a regular selection of mine in future visits.
Our second entree was the Perdido Key Pasta. This was a plateful of what resembled cavatappi pasta with broccoli and tomatoes in a Cajun sauce. The texture of the broccoli was perfectly balanced between tender and firm. The addition of large, perfectly seasoned shrimp complemented the flavors of the dish nicely; however, chicken and scallops could also be added. Kudzu came through with yet another dish that exceeded our expectations. One does not usually think of pasta when eating Louisianna cuisine, but the Cajun flavors and creamy sauce were an excellent match for this twisted macaroni shaped pasta. Although everything mentioned so far was excellent, the best part of the meal may have been the dessert. With the move, the restaurant has more room for in-house desserts, and they hit a grand slam with their new item, the s’mores brownie. This caramel and chocolate dessert is a gooey chocolate brownie on a graham cracker crust, a slightly caramelized marshmallow cream topping, and a twin drizzle of chocolate an
d caramel sauces. The pie is rich and decadent, but it doesn’t go overboard like often happens with such desserts. Of all of the sweet treats I have had in Macon restaurants over the years, this is the best of the best and one I will crave every trip.
Kudzu was a great restaurant at their former location, but the move has made them better in every respect. It’s a casual place, but I would put their food up against any eatery in the city, and it would be the first place I would recommend to a visitor.