For the first time I am reviewing a restaurant for a second time, but not due to any shortage of restaurants in the area.
Back in December I reviewed Bilello's Cafe in Houma, but was unable to get a complete picture of the place because it was just before they were to close for a week for the holidays, and they were out of quite a few of the ingredients needed for their full menu.
I said at the time that I understood, as food cost is such a big part of the restaurant business, and it does not pay to let food sit for a week, even if it could stay fresh. I promised to come back for a more representative impression of the place and recently kept that promise.
I ordered the Shrimp and Crab Gumbo, since that was one of the dishes I was unable to sample in my previous review, and the Shrimp Remoulade Salad.
The gumbo was delicious and would stand toe-to-toe with any application of the dish anywhere.
In keeping with a multi-generation family restaurant, the salad was a delectable throwback. It consists of a generous helping of shrimp in a spicy-sweet remoulade sauce of a recipe that I was told was unchanged since 1950, sliced cucumber and lemon and halved grape tomatoes over salad greens. One of those greens was iceberg lettuce, which I generally avoid in a salad if possible, but it did not detract from the dish and fits nicely with the "throwback" theme.
So does the remoulade, which tastes very similar to the Russian dressing that was popular in the 1950s and '60s, with a subtle hint of Cajun heat.
In all, the gumbo and salad were a perfectly satisfying, and genuinely Louisiana, meal.
I was silently congratulating myself on the healthy choice for lunch, but that lasted all of about 10 seconds when I was talked into a slice of the house-made Praline Cheesecake.
Of course, that "talked into" consisted of hearing it mentioned. Such is the sad state of my willpower.
As with all good desserts, the cheesecake obliterated any guilt for my dietary transgression. The twice-baked marvel put down any regret and put it down hard. It consisted of two layers, one of regular cheesecake and the other a topping of condensed milk and sour cream topped with chopped pralines. It was nothing short of heavenly.
All in all, the meal was the best possible use of a second chance.
Bilello's Cafe is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. It is at 7913 Main St. in Houma.
Staff Writer Scott Yoshonis can be reached at 850-1148 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Foster_Cajun.