I have eaten at some great restaurants in New Orleans (including one named for pork, Cochon), so I was hoping I'd get just a taste of cajun cooking in Iowa. I was not disappointed.
We showed up on a Saturday night, not having made reservations -- a mistake, since the place was very full. Fortunately, there was a two-top left, so we were seated right away. The server was actually one of the owners, and she gave us a detailed description of some of the great beers on the menu. Tempted as we were by the beer flight, we decided to just sample a Millstream and another locally-made ale, good matches for spicy food on a warm summer night, as it turns out.
Next we started with the frog leg appetizer. The legs were crisp-fried with a batter coating and served with a spicy tomato sauce and rice, a great mix of flavors and textures. I would have preferred a little less salt in the sauce, but was still pretty happy with the dish.
The big stars were our entrees. One of us ordered the catfish, dipped in cornmeal and fried (listen up Iowa: Cornmeal! On fish! Think about it.). It was plump and perfectly cooked. Not a bone in sight, and no hint of overly-fishy flavor. But the real triumph was the pork chop: this was locally-raised duroc pork, and it was without question the best piece of pork I've ever had in Iowa, a state proud of its pork products. This needed no barbecue sauce, though, to be juicy, tender, crisp on the outside with just a dusting of seasoning that made the fatty edges succulent and flavorful. I'd say it was like eating a wedge of bacon, but bacon is often so salty that you don't get that concentrated pork flavor. The closest I can come is the braised pork belly I've eaten at Blackbird in Chicago. But this was better.
And now, I must confess that after eating that dream made of pork, we followed it up with chocolate pecan pie. I don't think anyone has lived a virtuous enough life to deserve that chop followed by that pie, but we ate it anyway. Did I mention that it was drizzled with chocolate sauce?
In short, I recommend that you make reservations and get to Augusta as soon as you possibly can.
One final note: another diner complained that the restaurant lacked a number of seafood items. I recommend that diners first take a look at a map of the United States before dining out, as it may help them understand what ingredients they may expect to be fresh, local, and at peak quality.
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