One Night In The Rouge - Baton Rouge, Louisiana
I've been to New Orleans a few times but never had the pleasure of visiting Louisiana's capitol, Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is way more spread out, countrified and chill than New Orleans. Outside of the occasional lake front picnic set up, there aren't that many markers indicative of where you are in the dirty souf, which is fine. I wasn't here for that.
I had a work trip to Baton Rouge that happened to align with Southern University's Centennial Homecoming, so I had quite the HBCU experience while there. Southern's homecoming included an awesome tailgate, a turnt concert with Jazmine Sullivan, Young Jeezy and Migos, and my first experience at an HBCU Pep Rally. The cheerleaders flipping, dancers body rolling, fraternities and sororities strolling, performers hitting it to Louisiana bounce music - it was an awesome show.
The main thing I love about trips to the south, particularly Louisiana, is that the food is LIKE THAT! Of course everywhere I go, I ask my locals for the good spots that I have to hit. In Baton Rouge, I got 3 names - Copeland's, Mike Anderson's and Juban's.
The first stop was an upscale seafood restaurant that was about 7 miles off of the downtown area - Juban's. We started with frog legs. The last time I was in New Orleans, I had alligator, not frog legs? Why is it that every time I’m down here I’m eating something that I feel like I shouldn’t? But I went for it. And it tasted great! Like a slightly chewier version of chicken, but really just like chicken!
My work family had petit filet steak and gumbo, to which they proclaimed the decadence. Me? Oh I had the best seafood pasta of my entire life. It was epic. The sauce, the seasoning, the freshness of the seafood. Mussels, Louisiana jumbo Gulf shrimp, sea scallop and lump crab in a spicy saffron infused tomato seafood broth-glazed linguini. Yea… The drinks were great too. We had a fresh muddled drank that made us almost sure they had an old southern belle in the back just a churning and muddling her life away at this greatness.
The next day was crazy with work and we barely got a real meal in. That night we went to Copeland's. For those of you from the northeast, Copeland's reminds me of The Cheesecake Factory, just with a bit of Cajun flair. Because the menu was so extensive and I wanted to try everything, I ordered a few small plates including crab ravioli, steak lebouchere (deeelicious) and shrimp Orleans (with sausage… amazing!) Work homies had pecan crusted catfish, red beans and rice, and a ton of other Louisiana specialty plates. All of this was excellent, but here's where it got perfect. Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake: lightly spiced whipped pumpkin cheesecake with pumpkin mousse, praline candied pecans baked on an all butter shortbread cookie crust. Nothing.Like.It.In.My.Life. EVERYTHING!
I got a little soft spot in my heart for Baton Rouge yall. If I have another reason to go back, I won’t be mad!
Words and Images by Rondel Holder