I still remember the first time I spotted The Cabin on the side of the road. It was probably the mid-1970s and my parents must have been out for an extended Sunday drive. I would have been staring bored and, no doubt, complaining endlessly from the back seat. These slow drives could radiate up to 100 miles from New Orleans — our home base — and were the joy of my obsessive mother in her never-ending, and never fulfilled, quest to identify a suitable exterior paint color for our home. Back at home the paint was left to peel and peel as we drove and drove.
That’s another story. The Cabin has its own.
The Cabin would have arisen, mirage-like, from the side of Highway 44, cutting like a sword through the tedium. It remains today a collection of buildings both refined and rustic, united by old brick pathways, covered galleries and porches, and gardens of sugarcane and azaleas adorned with ancient agricultural tools. The added bonus of a general store would have held the promise of treasures and candy. I simply had to investigate and my demands grew so vehement as to compel my parents, accustomed to tuning me out, to pull over and allow me to explore.
What is now a folksy and welcoming restaurant and event venue was once one of the 10 original slave dependencies of Monroe Plantation, built in the late 1830s. Every effort has been made to keep the property within the period in which it was first built and Al and Theresa Robert often harvested fabrications from nearby plantations and other structures in the restoration of the property. The restrooms were fabricated from a cypress water cistern and the partitions within were repurposed from the Old Crow Distillery in New Orleans, which was demolished in 1970.
“My husband has spent a lifetime saving and restoring old buildings,” said Theresa Robert. “The Cabin represents almost 50 years of his efforts.”
The Cabin’s main dining room, built onto the back of the original structure, was designed to resemble a garconniere, the detached cylindrical plantation-era structures where families warehoused their rowdy bachelor sons. Within the space a cathedral-style cypress ceiling soars dramatically overhead supported by four massive beams that were manufacturer’s rejects the Roberts obtained in exchange for a bottle of Old Crow bourbon. James Schexnaydre is responsible for the creation of “Rock ,” the massive alligator he sculpted from a century-old sinker cypress log harvested from the mud of the Amite River in 1988.
Through the French doors and across the courtyard stands the restored Schoolhouse, the first black Catholic school in Louisiana, built in 1865 by the sisters of the Sacred Heart.
The Cabin 5405 LA-44 Burnside | 225-473-3007 | thecabinrestaurant.com
4 Dishes to Try
1. Crab au Gratin
Lumps of crabmeat bound in a creamy Mornay sauce with a topping of broiled, melted cheeses.
2. The Cabin Sampler
Fried Louisiana catfish strips, battered and fried crab claws, crawfish tails, gator tail, and hand-battered onion rings.
3. Chicken Salad Croissant
House-made chicken salad with crunchy vegetables, pecans and raisins on a toasted croissant.
4. Bourbon Pecan Chop
10-ounce bone-in pork ribeye, dusted with house seasoning, glazed with a bourbon, root beer, and pecan sauce and served over sweet potato cornbread & dirty rice.
From just below Baton Rouge all the way to just west of New Orleans, Highway 44 (aka The Great River Road) twists along bordered on one side by the verdant Mississippi River levee. A beautiful drive, it is stocked with plantation homes, gardens and historic sites. Theresa Robert operates The Cajun Village Cottages (thecajunvillage-cottages.com), a collection of cozy bed and breakfast cottages, few miles upriver from The Cabin. The property includes eight Acadian-style shotgun houses dating back to the early 1900s. Robert salvaged the buildings from the historic Spanish Town area of downtown Baton Rouge.
Each is authentically restored and appointed with appropriate period antiques.