Classic restaurant continues to impress

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
Oysters Gaspard

Mike Anderson's in Gonzales is a vibrant, up-scale eatery that features authentic Louisiana seafood and cuisine. The Ascension Gumbo spent an evening there recently and enjoyed much of what Mike has to offer.

We were greeted with smiles upon arrival and seated promptly in a corner booth facing the oyster grill. Landon Struppeck and Cade Roddy were grilling oysters on a big, open flame. In a restaurant that serves 200 people on a slow night, it's a two-man job.

We were perhaps lucky it was a Wednesday night. We were told that weekends at Mike's can reach wait times up to two hours. Plus, we'd been watering at the mouth all day. Manager Kenneth "Kenny G" Galloway made sure we were happy throughout the dining experience.

Struppeck said he's been in Prairieville for a couple years, having moved away from New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He brought us out Oysters Gaspard, which was selected by our server, Elizabeth "Liz" Jones.

Liz has been a server at Mike Anderson's for 27 years. She guided us through our entire menu selection, and we couldn't have been more pleased with her. She even warned us to slow down when we got to our third course (of five), a fresh garden salad with ranch dressing. When our entree was served, she was unhappy about one thing.

"They forgot your lemon," she said. "Not everyone can be like me." She's right about that, as well.

Our meal began with a half-dozen char-grilled oysters, three in the traditional sense with parmesan and Romano, and three the way Liz suggested with mozzarella, bacon, jalepeño and BBQ. They were piping hot, and the cheese had to be finagled with a cocktail fork. This is a good thing.

Next, we decided to try a cup of the chicken and andouille gumbo. The gumbo was good down to the scrape of the spoon on the empty dish. Our salad was crisp, but we took Liz's advice and pushed it to the side for our Broiled Seafood Platter with grilled vegetables.

Now let's talk about this platter. First of all, it features a 3-5 oz. filet of drum, which is arguably a meal in itself. But that's the icing on the cake. The platter also has a stuffed crab (full of lump crabmeat), a spicy stuffed pepper, crabmeat au gratin, oyster Bienville, a crawfish-stuffed mushroom and broiled shrimp. 

The platter was served hot on presumably a metal dish, that was shaped like a fish. It was super-enjoyable to nibble at. But the shrimp were awesome. Broiled shrimp are featured in two ways: One way is called The Supreme. It is broiled shrimp done with sherry, onions, butter, lemon and spices.

The other way the shrimp are prepared may be the reason we'll return soon. Mike's Special is a traditional BBQ style, broiled in lemon, Worcestershire, garlic, butter and spices. But it has a sweetness that still lingers days afterwards. According to Liz, it's Mike's late wife's recipe, making it that much more savory.

To top it off we had a particularly memorable Crème brûlée, complete with fresh berries. This go around we ate dinner without cocktails. Our sweet raspberry tea over crushed ice was just fine. But we did notice guests at other tables with margaritas, bottled beer and even a bluish cocktail served in a hurricane glass.

Mike's Gonzales Chef, Claudette Allen, has been with the company for 34 years. It shows. The Gonzales location has been nestled within the Clarion Inn, located at 1500 Louisiana 30 W, for 31 of those. The original Mike Anderson's is in Baton Rouge.

And in case you're out of the loop, Mike Anderson actually played linebacker for the LSU Tigers from 1968-70. We promise that after a good meal here the LSU fight song can still be heard playing somewhere off into the night.

*Originally published in the March 2017 edition of the Ascension Gumbo Magazine.