Ragin' Cajun

Looking for cold beer and down-home Cajun classics? Head to Graham's.

All roux starts the same: some type of fat (such as butter) and flour cooked slowly in a heavy, preferably iron, skillet. Variations come from the length of cooking time. Prudhomme is said to prefer a smoky-flavored, near-coal-black roux for his gumbo. King makes different roux for different dishes. For étouffée and for the pork-and-chicken gumbo, he cooks up a dark-brown roux in an iron skillet so that the dish, he explains, won't look so white. And sometimes he makes the roux with olive oil -- or even bacon grease. (I wish Graham's would advertise that on the menu board: "Tonight's roux is made with bacon grease." I'd show up every time.)

King says he's most proud of his red beans and rice. When asked why, he explains in his typical understated manner: "It's just the meat that's in it, and the beans and all -- it just works out perfect." Indeed, when you mix up a big pot of beans, rice, smoked ham shanks and andouille sausage ("And sometimes we put chicken in there," King adds), you have something quite admirable.

Wines at Graham's are nothing spectacular, but they are cheap and of a better quality than most wines at similar eateries. "Premium" bottles, such as a Hess Select chardonnay or a Castle Rock cabernet sauvignon, will set you back only $18 and $16, respectively. Wines by the glass are $4.50 to $5, with four whites and three reds to choose from. The house wines (Inglenook and Paul Mason) are even less expensive and are available by the glass and carafe. Graham's sister and brother-in-law own the Sugar Creek Winery in Defiance, and five of their wines are offered, two by the glass ($5).

Everyone -- including plastic sharks -- loves Graham's 
crawdads.
Jennifer Silverberg
Everyone -- including plastic sharks -- loves Graham's crawdads.

Location Info

Map

Graham's Grill & Bayou Bar

612 W. Woodbine
Kirkwood, MO 63122

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Kirkwood

Details

Caribbean smoked-fish dip $5.79 ($3.29, small order)
Crab cakes appetizer $6.49
Scallops Creole $13.29
Crawfish étouffée $13.79
Bread pudding $4.79

314-965-2003. Hours: Lunch and grill items available 11 a.m.-midnight Mon.-Sat.; entrees available 4-10:30 p.m. Mon.-Sat. Bar open until 1 a.m.

600-612 W. Woodbine Avenue, Kirkwood

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When it comes time for something sweet, know that all desserts except the bread pudding are supplied by outside purveyors. Included on the dessert menu are the expected cheesecake and Key lime pie (the double-chocolate cake was also tempting, because it's hard to find a good, plain chocolate cake). If you have room, the bread pudding is a must: The dessert is composed of chunks of French bread and a delectable sauce made by boiling orange juice concentrate, lemon juice, rum and brown sugar, until the ingredients are transformed into a syrupy, aromatic treasure.

Graham's encourages diners "to experience a bit of Key West in Kirkwood" -- which is a bit confusing, given the New Orleans-centric food. The atmosphere is festive with several large, well-stocked fish tanks, plenty of memorabilia from the Grahams' vacations and a lot of faux gazebos.

Graham's is one of those good neighborhood eateries, a place you want to go when the craving strikes for a cold beer and fried clams, or a cold beer and a burger, or a glass of wine and étouffée. And if the experience doesn't live up to your dormant memories of New Orleans dining? No big deal. You didn't drop a bundle, the food was made to order, and everybody got what they wanted. Now lighten up and go next door to the Bayou Bar for some Foosball.

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