Old Dog, tasty new tricks

Rodrigue, center, shows off Blue Dog's new brunch offerings at a media event. Photo by Mark Whitney

Let’s all take a moment of silence over the loss of a bottomless mimosa brunch.

Everyone good? Ok, good.

February marked the end of an era. Blue Dog Café announced its endless brunch did indeed have an end. Taking its place is a new menu akin to the lunch and dinner offerings that made their debut alongside the restaurant’s new executive chef, Ryan Trahan, last year.

“When it came to the development of our new brunch menu, we worked really hard to infuse every dish with the flavors that influence life in Acadiana, and we’re hopeful that it will give both locals and visitors another opportunity to experience the uniqueness of South Louisiana’s food, music and art,” Trahan says.

Gone are the mountains of meat and all-you-can-eat omelettes, replaced with more elegant offerings that highlight not only Trahan’s dedication to turning family-style comforts into picture-friendly cuisine, but also the restaurant’s mission of blending George Rodrigue’s art and the food that inspired him. From a local standpoint, it’s a nice change. Before Trahan took over, Blue Dog’s stagnant menu had, to some, become more of a tourist trap than a example of what Acadiana has to offer — something the new owners quickly recognized as an issue.  

“It’s one of the reasons we chose to work with Ryan in the first place,” says Jacques Rodrigue. He and his brother Andre recently took over primary ownership of the restaurant and, since, have worked to breathe new life into Blue Dog in an effort to better honor their father’s legacy and attract a new generation of customers. The changes have brought praise on both the restaurant’s owners and its chef. Trahan was dubbed 2018’s King of Seafood. Jacques earned top restaurateur honors from Louisiana’s state travel association.

“The idea that an artist owned a restaurant is weird to a lot of people, but food, especially Cajun food, is what inspired our father and a lot of his work,” Jacques says. “That’s been our biggest goal is to try and blur that line between food and art, and Ryan brings a beauty to our dishes — to our Cajun food heritage — that we don’t think the Blue Dog has seen in a long time.”

Blue Dog’s short rib hash

From fork-tender short rib hash to decadent slices of French toast and an heirloom blue corn bread that somehow is both crisp and decadently moist, Trahan’s expertise with local produce and technique shine through in each beautifully presented brunch dish.

While you may not be able to afford any of the art on the walls, dishes on the new menu all sit under $20. New brunch cocktails, from their take on an Old Fashioned made with cold brew coffee and a bloody mary (dubbed the Clovis Marie) made with seafood boil and veggies, are also available for all your day-drinking, “Sunday Funday” proclivities. And, for those who truly miss having a nigh-endless supply of champagne and OJ, you can still order a bottomless version of their mimosa — and it’ll only set you back $12.

This may be the last of their menu changes for a spell, but the brothers have plans to continue updating and modernizing the restaurant’s décor without scaring off their loyal clientele — a difficult balancing act given the café’s primary focus on honoring their father and his iconic blue pooch.

So far, according to Jacques, the menu changes have been mostly seen as positive both at brunch and otherwise, and he attributes people’s wariness to a fear of change.

“We know a lot of people are upset that we’re removing the brunch buffet, but once people try these dishes, we know they’re going to understand why we did it,” he says.

Every Sunday from 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., you can try the new menu yourself and see if this old, blue dog has learned some tasty new tricks.