If you go
Location: 50 Lancaster Ave., Columbia, Lancaster County
Cuisine: New Orleans
Rebecca's pick: Catfish platter, $14.99 with a Goose Island IPA, $3.50
Hours: 4:30 to 11 p.m. Tuesdays 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday; closed Mondays, except for private events
Price range: $1 armadillo egg (bar special) to $21.95 Heart of the Bayou Seafood Platter
Alcohol: Yes, full bar
Accepts: Cash and credit
Kid's menu: Yes
Details: Call 717-684-1706, visit lostcajun kitchen.com , or search Prudhomme's Lost Cajun Kitchen on Facebook
There's no need to buy a plane ticket to get a taste of New Orleans. Just take a trip across the Susquehanna River and take a seat at Prudhomme's Lost Cajun Kitchen in Columbia for the unique flavors of the south.
"It's so much fun going to an independent restaurant because nothing is the same," said Sharon Prudhomme, who owns the restaurant with her husband, David.
The restaurant first opened in Lititz 25 years ago but moved to Columbia and has been at the corner of Lancaster Avenue and Cherry Street for 18 years.
The restaurant is named after Chef Paul Prudhomme, David's uncle, a celebrity chef known for popularizing Creole cooking, Sharon Prudhomme said. When a family-run restaurant, Prudhomme's Cajun Café, closed a couple of years ago, David and Sharon sent a tractor trailer to pick up the unique décor found inside and bring it to their banquet hall at a separate location.
Inside the main restaurant in Columbia, however, there's plenty of New Orleans style. The walls are covered in alligator heads, Mardi Gras colors and joke signs. Located on the first floor of a historic hotel, Prudhomme's is still home to 11 full-time tenants who live upstairs.
The menu is filled with New Orleans-style favorites, from alligator to crawfish and hush puppies.
Some of the unique appetizer options showcase the creativity that Prudhomme's offers. Guests can order a Cajun Whoopee Pie ($6.25), made of cornbread and crab served with mushroom sauce.
Fried chicken livers ($5.25) and hush puppies with honey butter ($5.95) also are popular appetizers.
But some diners might want to save room for the main course.
"People go bananas for anything with the blackened catfish," Sharon Prudhomme said.
This signature item is served multiple ways. Guests can order the Shrimp Sunny ($21.95), featuring a blackened catfish filet over a mound of crab meat, topped with Prudhomme's famous crawfish etouffee. It's then topped with blackened or battered shrimp and served with a salad or homemade slaw.
The etouffee is a popular New Orleans style of cooking that uses the technique of "smothering" by cooking down vegetables and then building the body with a tomato base, Sharon Prudhomme said. The result is a flavorful, almost stew-like dish that's full of spice and flavor.
Another popular dish is the Heart of the Bayou Seafood Platter ($21.95), featuring blackened catfish, buttery garlic shrimp and crawfish, seafood gumbo, fried clam strips, hush puppies with honey butter, frizzled onions and house dip.
During a recent trip, my husband and I enjoyed the unique atmosphere and live entertainment from a band. Nearly every night features a different form of entertainment, including a magician on Tuesdays.
My husband ordered an Armadillo Egg ($1), a special bar-area appetizer. It was a deep fried, hard-boiled egg topped with hot sauce and a side of celery sticks. He gobbled it up, happy with the deal, and noted the hot sauce sold him.
I ordered the catfish platter ($14.95), which came with a side of sweet potato waffle fries and hush puppies with honey butter. My husband had the Taste of the Swamp Combo ($19.95), which included gator and frog legs with onions, peppers and mushrooms, as well as blackened catfish, crawfish etouffee and hush puppies.
My catfish had a tasty, herb-filled mushroom gravy drizzled over the top. I loved the slightly spicy, yet sweet hush puppies and the sweet potato waffle fries might have been some of the best I'd ever tasted — with a lingering spice.
My husband enjoyed even the simplest of items on his plate, such as the dirty rice, of which he almost wanted to ask for seconds. The etouffee, which he has never tasted before, was filled with spices and warmed his belly.
We also each had a pint of the Goose Island IPA, which was on special for $3.50 in the bar area, just one of many rotating specials each night.
The eclectic nature of Prudhomme's and the homey conversation were comforting. It's a neighborhood bar where even the regulars will help you find a seat and hand you a menu — and they'll ask you to come back for more.
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