Photo Credit: Whitley Carpenter
Kajun Seafood and Wings
CROSSCULTURAL: The first thing you need to know about Kajun Seafood and Wings (2361 W. Broad St., 706-850-6173) is that it is not just a Cajun-style seafood restaurant. It is, more specifically, a Vietnamese Cajun-style seafood restaurant, our first in Athens. Rather than a straight low-country boil, the “dirty”-style boils come to your table in a knotted plastic bag filled with whatever ingredients you’ve selected, swimming in butter, garlic butter or—this is the choice you want—Kajun garlic butter, available in mild, medium, hot or extra hot. Even “mild” is relatively spicy.
Pick the knot apart carefully (it’s hot), put your bib and plastic gloves on, and pour the contents into the metal dish in front of you. You don’t really need the gloves unless you have a manicure to protect or you don’t want your hands to smell faintly of Cajun spices for the rest of the day, and there are two sinks located outside the restrooms for whenever you need to wash your hands. The contents of the bags can include crawfish (at $5.99, a fantastic deal), shrimp, blue crab, snow crab legs, clams, Dungeness crab, king crab legs or lobster tail, most available in half- or full-pound portions. Some of the choices are seasonal or just may not be in stock. Everything comes with chunks of sausage and boiled potatoes, but you can add in a hunk of corn on the cob or hard-boiled eggs (three for $2.99) if you want.
The fried stuff is not bad, but not as good as the boil. Shrimp is sizable and good. Catfish, listed as Pangasius, a species from Southeast Asia, is nicely fried. Baskets of fried things, which can also include oysters, popcorn shrimp, chicken tenders and tilapia, also come with Arby’s-style curly fries. There’s a small section of “seafood burgers,” which include salmon and shrimp (greasy and maybe a little too processed but not bad) as well as a shrimp po’boy. Don’t snooze on the Kajun-style wings, which are dry, not saucy, and taste more like salt-and-pepper shrimp/squid/whatever than like most chicken preparations. Topped with sautéed peppers and onions tossed with the same mix of spices, they get a big thumbs up.
Kajun Seafood doesn’t have much in the way of creature comforts. In a strip mall space down in a hole off Broad, next to a gym, it is in a pretty bare tiled room ringed with flat-screen TVs playing YouTube mixes and talk shows, sometimes at blasting volume. Service can be a bit disorganized, and the restaurant still seems to be getting its act together a month and a half after opening. A section of lunch specials on the menu are all, weirdly, the exact same price as their listing in other sections. Take-out materials are stacked on a shelf in the middle of the dining room. Paper towel dispensers are hung way too high on the wall.
On the other hand, it also has a full bar and a bowl full of individually wrapped guava-flavored hard candies to freshen your mouth on the way out. Kajun Seafood and Wings is open 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1–9 p.m. on Sunday. It does take-out and even delivery through Cosmic.
BBQ BEAT: Drive out old 29 to downtown Statham, and you’ll come across Edee’s Shack (342 Jefferson St., 678-726-7755), an offshoot of a barbecue trailer that grew into a restaurant in Dacula. It, too, isn’t exactly fancy, being essentially a covered pavilion, but it has TVs and a bar, as well as a pleasant, low-key atmosphere. Edee’s does a wide variety of stuff: pork, chicken, ribs, brisket, smoked beef sausage, wings, rib tips and lots of vegetables.
The smoker is going intensely the whole time, and the meat tastes like it, although some of it could use more salt to bring out the wood flavor that’s been imparted. The pork and the brisket, both chopped, are decent, with a regular sauce and a spicier sauce that are very similar to one another, both tomato-based. The ribs, however, are a cut above, with a lovely pink color on the inside, good texture (pulling away nicely from the bone but not mushy) and a tasty rub.
The beans are so sugary they could be dessert, but then you’d miss the Key lime cake, which comes in a disposable aluminum container and is artificial-tasting but worth your time. Slaw and potato salad are fine, and the stew is pretty good, with a more robust texture than the usual slurry. There is also an array of fried appetizers, including good homemade pork skins (ranch flavored, as well as plain), pickles, corn pups, mozzarella sticks and loaded fries covered with barbecue and nacho cheese.
Kids meals include a drink and a side, and there is also red velvet cake and banana pudding, including a version with strawberries, plus several varieties of tea. Edee’s Shack is open 10:30 a.m.-ish to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 10:30 a.m.-ish to 7 p.m. Sunday.