DINING: Spice is nice at Main St. Carmel Cajun

Mudbugs Cajun Cafe

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Dining - A&E

This month, inspired by “Urban Element II” (reviewed last week), we thought we’d focus on “elemental” places. That is, restaurants with earthy, fiery and watery monikers. And how much more earthy can a place sound than Mudbugs Cajun Café (20 W. Main St., Carmel. 843-8380)?

Mudbug is actually a Creole slang term for crawfish, and the crustacean is well represented in Mudbug’s thick Crawfish Casserole ($4.95, $8.95). We sampled it as part of a Pick 3 Combo (a hearty bargain at $8.95), combining the cheesy, baked rice-based casserole with Red Beans and Rice ($2.95, $5.95 as its own dish) and a Shrimp Po’boy ($7.95 for a full sandwich). The mini-buffet works beautifully with these Creole standards, particular the Red Beans and Rice, whose slow cooking blurred the lines between the two named ingredients and the smoked sausage. The dish could easily overstay its welcome in a larger portion.

Dining A Pick 3 Combo offers variety. Ours included a Shrimp Po’boy, Red Beans & Rice and Crawfish Casserole. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

For the uninitiated, a Po’boy is a sandwich barely contained by a French baguette, and the selection of the right bread certainly makes a difference. This version featured battered and fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato and a remoulade sauce that reminded us Cajun doesn’t automatically equal excess spice. The hearty two-hander (and fork for cleanup) comes with a choice of hush puppies, potato salad, or so-thin-you-can-see-through-them homemade potato chips.

An order of Shrimp Etouffée ($4.95, $7.95) proved Yat’s isn’t the only place to find satisfying etouffée in these parts. At Mugbugs, it’s nearly thick enough that you could turn your bowl over without spilling any. Chicken Courtbouillon ($4.95, $6.95) was a new one for me—a spicy tomato-based stew with chunks of chicken. It was a bit on the spicy side for one of my companions, but a little plate switching solved that.

Our visit fell on all-you-can-eat Chicken & Sausage Gumbo day (usually $4.95, $6.95). One helping was plenty, not because of any lack of taste—there’s flavor to spare—but because we all have our limits. Mudbugs prides itself on its flour roux-base (rather than tomato-base) soups, giving them a ruddier, more authentic feel. For some, it might take some getting used to. For me, I just wish I had room for more.

Of course, Beignets ($4 for $3.95, 8 for $6.95) are an essential end point. The New Orleans equivalent of elephant ears is here denser, flatter and crispier than some, which could be a disappointment to those who like the puffier variety. Not me. I appreciated the crunch and offer a warning: If you are grabbing a work-day lunch, there’s a good chance you’ll wear the powdered sugar back to the office.•

—Lou Harry


Second in our month-long series of “elemental” restaurant reviews.


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  1. OK Larry, let's sign Lance, shore up the PG and let's get to the finals.

  2. A couple of issues need some clarification especially since my name was on the list. I am not sure how this information was obtained and from where. For me, the amount was incorrect to begin with and the money does not come to me personally. I am guessing that the names listed are the Principal Investigators (individual responsible for the conduct of the trail) for the different pharmaceutical trials and not the entity which receives the checks. In my case, I participate in Phase II and Phase III trials which are required for new drug development. Your article should differentiate the amount of money received for consulting, for speaking fees, and for conduct of a clinical trial for new drug development. The lumping of all of these categories may give the reader a false impression of physicians just trying to get rich. The Sunshine Law may help to differentiate these categories in the future. The public should be aware that the Clinical Trial Industry could be a real economic driver for Indiana since these revenues supports jobs and new job creation. Nationally, this account for 10-20 billion which our State is missing out on to a large degree. Yes, new drug and technology development has gotten most of the attention (e.g. CTSI, BioCrossroads, etc.) However, serious money is being left on the table by not participating in the clinical trials to get those new drugs and medical devices on the market!!!! I guess that this is not sexy enough for academia.

  3. The address given for the Goldfish Swim Club is the Ace Hardware, is it closing?

  4. Out of state management and ownership. If Kite controlled it, everything would be leased. Of course, due to the roundabout, there is limited access to the south side of 116th now also. Just have to go down to the light.

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