By Karen Welch — Senior Content Producer
We went for the beignets and stayed for the gator.
Lagniappe, by the way (pronounced lan-yap) means "a little something extra," and The Lost Cajun has put Cajun back on Amarillo's menu of restaurant choices.
Hilary Hulsey and I were the first customers through the door on The Lost Cajun's first open-to-the-public day of business. Really, we did go just for beignets, which the new restaurant in The Shops at Wolflin Square serves from 10:30 to 11 a.m. daily.
Beignets: Pillowy. Powdered-sugar-coated. Pleasing with a cup of the house chickory.
Something to savor. And savor we did, until 10:55.
Then we figured it would be a crime not to stay and sample from the full menu, wouldn't it? That starts at 11 a.m., each day.
The Lost Cajun has a great scheme for making you immediately want to try everything. It offers sample cups of six signature dishes, from lobster bisque to two types of gumbo to red beans and rice.
Our samples showed the restaurant seems to excel at roux — the sauce. Each was full-bodied with the subtle flavor differences required to distinguish crawfish etoufee from seafood gumbo and other dishes.
After the sampling, we opted to split the Gator Bites. The batter is light, allowing you to taste the gator. They're served with a house sauce, lemon wedge and two small pieces of French bread.
For lunch fare, Hilary opted for the chicken and sausage gumbo, persuaded by the comfort-food spice she tasted from the sampler.
I went for a shrimp po boy. The sandwich I got was so loaded with shrimp that I had to be sure to eat it over the basket because I didn't want any shrimp to get away! The French bread is buttery and crispy. (You can, by the way, add lettuce and tomato to any po boy for free.)
And the sandwich is large. I brought half the sandwich and assorted wayward shrimp home for another meal.
The Lost Cajun menu boasts fried catfish, shrimp and oyster plates, some pasta selections, and po boys of catfish, shrimp, oyster, gator, roast beef, cajun sausage and friend chicken. It also offers the Cajun classics included on the sampler.
Entrees run $8 to $22, with the high end being a seafood platter of shrimp, catfish and oysters.
Po boy prices range from $9 to $13.
Parents will find the menu includes several selections for children.
Franchise holder MIke Fogiel chose to bring the small chain with Colorado roots to our city. Fogiel also operates the Amarillo Hoffbrau Steak & Grill House location and Ye Olde Pancake Station.
The restaurant will open daily for coffee and beignets at 10:30 a.m. and the full menu at 11 a.m., Fogiel said. He's going to let customer traffic in the initial weeks of service to help determine closing hours.
The restaurant has hired 70 employees, and a large number of them were working on opening day. The excitement of being in on something new is evident in their smiles and enthusiasm.
Karen Welch is a senior content producer for Panhandle PBS. She can be contacted at Karen.Welch@actx.edu, at @KWelch806 on Twitter and on Facebook. Subscribe to the Panhandle PBS BizHere podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud to hear more business news and interviews.