Big E is Back!

Eric Austin, the talented chef behind the late, lamented Big
E’s Soulfood on Eat Street, has resurfaced in South Saint Paul with a new
upscale restaurant, the Bourbon Street Steakhouse, in the dining space formerly
occupied by TreVina Italian Steak House. It’s a more suitable venue for fine
dining than the little storefront on Eat Street, and Austin is now able to offer cocktails and a wine and beer
selection to go with his cuisine.

Austin, who trained at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans,
offers a nice selection of Creole specialties, many of them upscale
presentations of the classic Creole fare that he served at Big E’s. But the
menu has a wider range, from beer can chicken with whisky baked beans ($16) to
lamb chops with rosemary and parmesan cornbread stuffing, and a 20 ounce ribeye
cowboy steak served with baked beans, chorizo and sauteed asparagus ($32). (The
south Saint Paul stockyards are right across the street.)

shrimp and crawfish etoufee

I was very impressed with the Louisiana gumbo, made with a
proper brown butter and flour roux, and brimming with shrimp, crawfish,
andouille sausage and chicken, and the entrée of shrimp and crawfish etouffee,
smothered in a rich brown gravy. The
blackened catfish, a nightly special, was also first-rate – moist and flaky and
accompanied by a roasted sweet corn succotash. My smothered pork chop wasn’t
quite as exciting as the Creole dishes, but it was enormous and quite tasty.

With a day’s notice, Austin also offers a special Chef’s Table menu, made up to order, for $65 per person, including two glasses of wine per person. Austin says he asks diners three questions – whether they have any food allergies, whether there are any foods they absolutely won’t eat, and whether they prefer land, sea or air – and then he invents a menu.

Bourbon Street Steak House, 200 N. Concord Exchange, South Saint Paul, 651-209-6854. Lunch – Tuesday through Friday; Dinner – Tuesday through Saturday.