Fat Tuesday snuck up on this year. It came early, on Feb. 13.
Not to worry. Ben Marcus has you covered.
The Louisiana native will supplement the usual pub menu at Doyle’s Public House with some of his bayou specialties through February. That means you’ve got a few more weeks to eat like it’s Mardi Gras (well, unless you’re cutting back for Lent, of course).
Longtime restaurant watchers will know Marcus from Parkland’s From the Bayou, a long-gone wildly popular Louisiana-themed restaurant co-founded by Marcus’s brother, Matt, along with childhood friend Kevin Roy. They opened their doors in 1998. Ben worked in the kitchen back then along with another brother, Jon.
From the Bayou closed in 2007, but its recipes live on through Ben Marcus, who has worked as a chef all over Pierce County and currently runs the kitchen at Doyle’s Public House in the St. Helens neighborhood.
Wait a minute, isn’t that a Euro-themed pub? Yes, yes it is. However, for a few sweet weeks in February, Marcus turns it into a pop-up restaurant straight out of Opelousas, where he grew up in Louisiana. (That’s in St. Landry Parish.)
The etouffee Marcus will serve now through the end of February is the same recipe that was served at From the Bayou.
“In Louisiana, everyone has their own etouffee recipe. I personally make three different kinds, but the one we are doing at Doyle’s is the classic recipe we used to do at From The Bayou. It’s an onion, pepper, mushroom cream-based red sauce kissed with Cajun spices that give it its distinctive flavor,” said Marcus.
He added, “Etouffee translated from French means smothered or suffocated. So an etouffee is a sauce that smothers the main ingredient. In this case, the jewel is crawfish. The slow cooking aspect is one of the reasons it is so good.”
One big bite of the crawfish-heavy cream sauce transported me back to the funky Parkland restaurant with the eclectic ladies bathroom filled with lotions and potions, those exquisite cornbread muffins that started every meal and the mellow bayou vibe that made From The Bayou such a dining treasure.
At Doyle’s, Marcus’s dish is served with mounds of crawfish completely smothered in that silky cream sauce with a peppery kick of heat. A mound of rice was plopped into the center of the bowl ($14).
Through Feb. 25, Marcus also will serve chicken-and-sausage gumbo ($3.50 cup/$8 bowl), a crawfish dip ($14), a Bayou-themed salad ($11.25), a boiled prawn po’ boy ($12) and slices of King cake ($6).
Sorry, folks, there won’t be the usual plastic trinket hidden in the slices of cakes.
“It can be a challenge to get someone to buy for the whole bar,” joked Marcus about the tradition that dictates that the person who bites into the famous Mardi Gras cake embedded with a plastic trinket has to buy or bring the cake to the next year’s celebration.
The sausage-and-chicken gumbo served through Feb. 25 also was the recipe used at From the Bayou.
“One aspect that separates ours is I make the dark roux which gives the gumbo its robust flavor,” said Marcus. “Another key aspect is the andouille sausage. I am very particular about this. We use Paul Prudhomme’s, who was from Opelousas like myself.”
Doyle’s Public House
Where: 208 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma
Info: 253-272-7468, doylespublichouse.com