Before I break down the cuisine at B&T, I have to talk more about the business itself.
What makes a local business special is not only that it provides a unique experience from the carbon-copy chain restaurants, they also reflect the community as a whole. They effect their surroundings, but they also do their best to BECOME a staple of the community. Bourbon n’ Toulouse is a great example of just how special a local establishment can be.
B&T has a history of giving back to Lexington and it’s surrounding area. In fact, it has had drives to support the less fortunate in other states, most notably the clothing drive it held to help those affected by the tornadoes in Tuscaloosa. It constantly has discounts or just flat-out fantastic deals for those who follow the restaurant on Facebook (I got free tickets to Fiddler On The Roof at the Opera House – plus two free meals – just for being the first to reply to a FB post). Some of the promotional events they have are downright hilarious, including a free meal if you let them cut off the legs on your jeans – while you’re wearing them – in support of UK basketball player Josh Harrellson (Nicknamed “Jorts”). Unlike a place such as ”Applebees”, which covers its walls in local high school gear (I believe Applebees donates money to the district before it moves in, which I of course agree with and applaud), B&T has its interior covered in local art, which are all available for purchase. Also local street artist Dronex has left his mark (a little drone) all over the interior, mostly around the counter on little styrofoam cups. It’s location on Euclid makes it a popular spot for college students and young professionals alike.
Of course, none of this would matter if the food sucked. Thankfully the food is the best part of Bourbon n’ Toulouse.
B&T is a “Cajun n’ Creole Joint”: offering such fare as Etouffee, Gumbo, Jambalaya and chilis. Every once in a while they offer special meats for meals, such as alligator. Now I’ve never eaten this dish before, and it’s extremely difficult to track down. When it is offered, it sells out before the end of lunchtime. It’s not just the rare menu items that are occasionally difficult to find, however. Even such mainstays as the pulled chicken, chilidogs, white chili and Southwest Etouffee sell out quickly. Let me just say this: if you see that they aren’t sold out of the Southwest Etouffee with Crawfish, you order it and savor every bite. I can’t stress that enough. The Crawfish Etouffee is one of the best dishes you can get in Lexington without breaking your bank account. This and the pulled pork sandwich (which is covered in a sweet glaze that makes you feel criminal even adding the slightest amount of hot sauce) are my personal favorites at B&T.
Everything is, of course, fresh and made right when you order it. If you’re not sure you’re up to being adventurous with their menu, the staff will gladly give you a spoonful of any item you’re interested in trying. If you’re just starting out, grab a plate of the Chicken Etouffee: it’s not too spicy, full of flavor and B&T’s most popular item. Nearly every dish also comes with two small pieces of french bread that’s layered with an (un)healthy amount of butter.
Every dish is served without any thought put towards presentation. It’s just placed on a styrofoam or paper plate, over a bed of white rice. Here’s their gumbo, which includes shrimp, sausage and shredded chicken:
Doesn’t look like much, right? Well it doesn’t have to when it’s that fantastic. Honestly, who are they trying to impress? Their business has spread by word of mouth not because it’s fancy, but because it’s a great place to eat. I’d prefer a place like B&T with it’s great food, friendly service and cheap prices over a pretentious eatery where a 4oz steak with grass clippings scattered atop costs $50 any day.
I dine frequently at Bourbon n’ Toulouse, as do a lot of people: The place and it’s menu have their own cult following. It’s another resturant where it’s hard to find a down time, and it’s best you get there early in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. While you’re waiting for your food, take a look around and appreciate the art on the walls and painted benches. If you order the BBQ pork sandwich, try a few bites with their assortment of sauces and spices, but I promise you’ll feel guilty.
Rarely do I find a place that completely encapsulates the vibe and attitude of it’s neighborhood so precisely. Although it’s a creole and cajun restaurant located in the heart of the Bluegrass, B&T is as Lexington as the Wildcats.