District of Columbia County, District of Columbia
October 10, 2004
Café Vermilionville is one of my two favorite restaurants in Lafayette (the other being Prejean’s). Housed in a historic inn that predates the Civil War by at least 43 years and a modern addition to the back of the original structure, Café Vermilionville occupies a site that has been a haven for hungry visitors for nearly 200 years. Today this once rural outpost on the banks of Bayou Vermillion sits on Pinhook Road, a busy thoroughfare, just a few blocks from Lafayette’s oil center. Archeological surveys on the restaurant’s property have revealed Civil War-era bullets and cannonballs, attesting to nearby battles. In fact, records indicate that Union troops occupied the historic section of the restaurant during the war.
Today Café Vermilionville features a fine dining menu that creatively blends the local Cajun cuisine with modern, refined flavors. Everything is prepared fresh after it is ordered, so do not expect your food to come out quickly. Trust me, the wait will be worth it, and I suggest ordering one of the excellent appetizers, salads, or soups to hold you over until your entrée arrives. In addition to the regular menu items, a selection of daily specials are usually available in limited quantities. On busy evenings, the kitchen does occasionally run out of certain ingredients (that’s just the nature of preparing everything fresh from scratch), so a few menu items may be unavailable at times. Service from the staff has been top-notch on every visit I’ve made to the restaurant, and you can’t beat the quiet atmosphere, which is perfect for a romantic date or special occasion. The quaint dining rooms in the historic front section of the restaurant are especially nice, but the larger, modern dining area in the back continues the quiet, dignified atmosphere.
My favorite appetizers are the crawfish beignets (cheeses and crawfish tail meat blended and fried inside a pastry, and served with a mustard sauce), the roasted corn and crab bisque, and turtle soup (a Louisiana delicacy). My favorite entrée is the Creole-bronzed shrimp, with jumbo bronzed Gulf shrimp on top of a sauce filled with baby shrimp and a white and brown rice pilaf. The five jumbo shrimp are enormous in size (for shrimp) and sautéed in Creole seasonings that complement the flavors baby shrimp-filled sauce. If you love shrimp and Cajun cooking, this is as good as it gets. Other good choices are the pecan- and pistachio-crusted tilapia, grilled chicken Ecrivisses, and Steak Louis XIII. If Cajun cooking and seafood are not your favorites, a selection of beef, pork, chicken, and fish entrées are available in the "Café Vermilionville Redefined" section of the menu. These items are also excellent but are less influenced by the local cuisine. A wonderful selection of desserts is also available to finish your meal.
Overall, I can’t say enough good things about Café Vermilionville. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in Lafayette.
From journal Lafayette, the Capital of Cajun Country