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Bayou Kitchen in Temecula

 

Last updated 1/17/2008 at Noon

Manager Kristina Morris (right) and Assistant Chef Heather Brummett of Southern Stuffer Bayou Kitchen.

A rose by any other name tastes just as hot

Southern Stuffer Bayou Kitchen is the epitome of Cajun-style food and Southern cooking. There is good food to eat when you don’t have a lot of money and good food to eat when you do.

When times are lean, a bowl of red beans and rice will stick to your ribs; when times are good, the grand seafood platter is a treat of catfish, snapper, tiger shrimp, oysters and sides.

Bayou Kitchen has been one of my favorite restaurants in Temecula for the past three years.

Several months ago however, I pulled into the strip mall off of Jefferson Avenue and Winchester Road to discover the Bayou Kitchen was closed. Big sigh of disappointment.

But as it turns out, the Cajun-style eatery had only closed for a three-day renovation that, unfortunately, turned into six and a half weeks. For restaurants this can be the kiss of death to your loyal patrons.

It took me until late summer to discover they were reopened and had been under new ownership since the beginning of 2007.

The menu has simplified a bit and prices came down a tad but the recipes were purchased from former owner Greg Holt, according to manager Kristina Morris. The name also underwent a change from Bayou Kitchen to Southern Stuffer Bayou Kitchen.

I am a big fan of the bowls. Not only the red beans and rice ($5.95), which includes beef sausage, but also the gumbo and the jambalaya ($6.95), both with chicken, shrimp and beef sausage in their own unique sauces.

For less formidable palates there are dishes such as the seafood or a salad.

Or the restaurant’s new dish, the bourbon bowl ($4.95), a grilled bourbon chicken breast atop steamed rice. It’s a Southern-style Asian fusion chicken, for lack of a better description.

The catfish platter ($6.95) comes with hush puppies and a side choice of rice or fries. This restaurant is where I came to appreciate catfish: hot, flaky and white with a crisp outside that almost snaps when you bite in. I sometimes forget about the side sauces for dipping until I am almost done.

And the hush puppies. I know it’s merely a simple corn batter deep fried but bring ’em on.

This time of year is when I appreciate the restaurant even more. With the constant reminders of Mardi Gras, I can at least stop in and not feel completely left out of the celebration.

Morris, who has worked at the location ever since it changed hands a year ago, was more than happy to have the opportunity to ask devoted customers to come back to the restaurant if they thought it was closed.

“We apologize for the confusion,” she said. “Come back. It’s the same place and the same food.”

Southern Stuffer Bayou Kitchen is open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and closed on Sundays. They are located at 27470 Jefferson Avenue, Suite 2, in Temecula. Telephone: (951) 506-0141.

 

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