Charlotte isn't lacking in Cajun restaurants, but there is a new kid in town. OK, so maybe this kid isn't brand-new, but he's had a bit of a makeover.
On Monday, Aug. 20, Bite Your Tongue Cajun restaurant opened its doors to the public at its new location in South End with a soft menu. (A soft menu means a small menu that is just a sampling of the much larger menu that will be offered to the public in the future.)
Bite Your Tongue was originally a take-out and catering company in Louisiana owned by Lucius and Martine Johnson. When the couple was uprooted during the Hurricane Katrina evacuation in 2007, they decided to make Charlotte their new home and brought their business with them. Located in a medical building on Randolph Road, the couple served Cajun cuisine for four years. Now they have relocated to 222 E. Bland St., Suite E, in South End where they hope to expand their reach to more Charlotteans.
The new location of Bite Your Tongue is a small, streamlined modern restaurant with vibrant orange walls and accents of purple. The feeling is very lively, which doesn't come from just the decor.
On my first visit, I arrived at 11:45 a.m., just before the lunch rush. As I waited on my lunch date to arrive, the restaurant was soon flooded with people who were audibly excited about the new food venue. It was obvious that some of the diners knew the family, offering their congratulations for a job well done, but others had heard of the restaurant by word of mouth and were eager to try the few items from the soft menu.
The style of the restaurant is casual and very appropriate for lunch, although breakfast and dinner are both served. A New Orleans Jazz Brunch is soon to come as well.
Upon entering the restaurant, diners order at a counter, then help themselves to the soda fountain and to any napkins and utensils they will need. Diners are provided a number so waiters can identify where orders should be delivered. There is seating both inside and out (facing the light rail line).
Our order came out in about five minutes, despite people continuing to pour in through the doors while I waited.
For our lunch choices, my lunch date and I went with Cajun classics, which is the focus of the soft menu. My friend chose a Shrimp Po'boy, which featured a generous amount of breaded and fried shrimp, lettuce, and tomato. Diners have their choice of regular mayo or the special crab mayo, which my friend ordered on the side to sample. The Po'boy was served with seasoned fries, that had just a bite of heat from a smattering of cayenne. I tried one dipped in the crab mayo and absolutely loved them. I've always been a fan of slightly spicy seasoned fries over plain ol' fries. Bite Your Tongue's fries were some of the best I've eaten.
Choosing the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo was an easy choice for me, but I will definitely be back when the full menu is available so I can try the Seafood Gumbo. The hearty soup was filled with white rice, shredded chicken, and large chunks of andouille sausage. I also ordered a simple side salad to work some veggies into my meal.
The Gumbo was accompanied by Shrimp Cheese Bread, heavy on the cheese, which was a pleasant surprise. Who would ever think to add shrimp to cheese bread? Surely, not I. But the results are nothing short of delicious.
One of the most interesting things about my trip to Bite Your Tongue, was the large cooler of Strango.
The Bite Your Tongue website explains this strange drink: New Orleans “Strango” a blend of mango tea & strawberry lemonade
I didn't sample the fruit drink, but if you're looking for the authentic N'awlins experience, it might be worth a try.
The total cost of my meal was about $10 without a fountain drink, a little steep for lunch, in my opinion, but there are several options on both their soft menu and their future lunch full menu under $10. Additionally, they have a veggie plate option, which allows diners to select from their 11 side dish options, some of which are not vegetarian, so ask before you order. The Kid's menu has five different options.
While Bite Your Tongue is worth checking out now, I for one am looking forward to their full menu, which will include Crabmeat Stuffed Shrimp ($15) and Crawfish Etoufee ($11) on the dinner menu, and a soup of the day which includes Corn and Crab Soup ($5 cup/$8 bowl) on Mondays for lunch or dinner.
If the New Orleans Jazz Brunch hasn't sparked your interest, I have three words for you: Sweet Potato Waffles ($9).
One of the biggest challenges facing Bite Your Tongue is the parking situation. But I've taken the guess work out of this for you with a map to help you find your way. The parking lot is labeled with a sign for Bland Station and is located on South Tryon Street, between Summit and Winona. Walk toward the light rail line, making a right out of the parking lot, cross the light rail line at your first opportunity, after looking both ways (Aren't you proud of me, Mom?) and you'll be facing the entrance to Bite Your Tongue.
Bite Your Tongue
Address: 222 East Bland St., Charlotte
Phone: (704) 332-5730
Kelly Davis is a blogger, freelance writer, food enthusiast, and native North Carolinian. When she's not training for a race or cooking something delicious in the kitchen, she's writing, reading, snuggling her dachshund, or plotting her next project. You can keep up with Kelly's antics and recipes on her blog, Foodie Fresh.