Walk in, and you are enveloped in a tiny dark cave of overstuffed vinyl booths and table top candles. The ambiance suggests a dive bar all dressed up for a big night out. Everything is clean, and in good repair, but shows no other indication of being touched since the place opened in 1969. In short: this place is a bucket load of awesome.
There are maybe a dozen tables, and a few stools at the bar. Despite its pint size, we were still greeted warmly by the maitre d', who took our coats, the bus boy, who placed the napkins upon our laps, and our young waitress, who very, very slowly told us about the innovations the bar was capable of. I thought she was fantastic, but my table compatriots were wishing for a little more speed.
Disclaimer: pictures on this post are of suspect quality due to the dark-of-night interior.
The food is similarly ambitious. We started with crayfish hush puppies. A little under-spiced, and a little over-dense, but engaging anyway, clearly fresh, with big chunks of crayfish, and a serious crunch. The gelatinous sauce that accompanied them had a little kick to it, but was too goopy to take seriously.
The soups that followed the hush puppies were, to me, highlight of the meal. I had a gumbo, rich and spicy and fabulous. The spice wasn't subtle exactly, a giant wallop of louisana hot, but the texture and the flavors in the gumbo were just dead on. Andouille sausage for the win.
The salads - and I use the term "salad" loosely here - were not as impressive. More accurately, this was a plate of crumbled bacon atop a small lake of dressing, alongside cucumbers. I love my dressing and my bacon as much as the next guy, but this was overkill.
I've had better steaks, and far better salads, even, on occasion, better gumbo; but this food, spiced with the historical brilliance of the experience, is among the best I've had in Lansing.