Café Josephine in Sunset is a culinary destination for foodies in the know
SUNSET — It’s 4:44 p.m. and customers are gathered around the restaurant’s front door.
Meanwhile, all varieties of cars and trucks continue to hurriedly drive onto the establishment’s parking lot. Each of the vehicle’s occupants shares an expression of nervous anticipation as if they know something spectacular is happening inside Café Josephine and they do not want to miss out.
When the doors open at 5 p.m., a line develops in front of the hostess. She asks each person, couple and group, “Do you have a reservation?”
Tension around the faces of those who secured a seat dissipates after sitting at a dinner table. Customers who who did not call ahead, figuring to roll the dice in hopes of being fortunate enough for a prized seat, stand or sit near the charbroiling oyster and meat grilling station if there is room. A wait here can take two to three hours.
A group of food lovers from around the state understand the need for a reservation at Café Josephine which is located in Sunset, about 10 minutes off of Interstate 49. Those who eat at this restaurant could be considered culinary pilgrims who trek to this out-of-the-way eatery which is led by Carencro-born Chef Troy Bijeaux.
This man, who worked in the flooring business for 20 years, is about 6-foot-1, pleasantly plump (great cooks are not skinny), with a heavy Cajun accent, jovial personality and just maybe the a true kitchen savant.
“I never went to cooking school. I never worked in a professional kitchen. I never had a restaurant until this one,” he explains while pouring a creamy sauce over and around a dozen charbroiling oysters in the grill station that sits near the restaurant entrance. “My menu was created while sitting on a couch. The only reason I am here and successful is because of God.”
Like a music prodigy who just understands how a piano is supposed to sound, Bijeaux gets food and flavor.
It is difficult to choose what to eat off the restaurant menu because the plates that are delivered to tables from kitchen dazzle the visual and olfactory senses.
Crab meat stuffed egg rolls — Bijeaux’s wife Melissa was not convinced about the dish’s potential when he initially shared it — is a grand example of the kind of flavor dish Bijeaux dreams of. The appetizer consists of white crab meat wrapped in an egg roll and fried before it is served over a bed of lettuce and topped with pecan pepper jelly, spicy mayonnaise and sriracha.
The eggplant crab dish will have a foodie paying homage to Bijeaux’s menu and recipe creating skills. Plated in a white bowl, the dish consists of three deep fried eggplant medallions layered with grilled tomatoes and topped with crab dip and Louisiana jumbo lump crab meat with three fried shrimp and angel hair pasta on the side.
Café Josephine is a word-of-mouth restaurant. Connoisseurs of Louisiana-inspired foods will eat and become a believer and follower of the creations of Chef Bijeaux.