Creole, by definition, is a mix of primarily French, Spanish and African ancestry. Foodies define creole simply as “good eats, born in Louisiana.”
In St. Peters, that cuisine is perfected by Detroit transplant Shawn Barnes, owner of Les Bon Temps Creole Cuisine.
“I love to mix it up,” said Barnes, referring not only to the menu but also the dining room music, which occasionally jumps from New Orleans jazz to Motown. “We’re cooking genuine Louisiana recipes that every now and then we give a little twist, like our Crawfish Bread that we do a little differently.”
Crawfish bread, a rarity seldom seen on menus outside Louisiana, is a decadent delicacy combining Cajun spices, cheese and crawfish tails baked on a halved loaf of French bread. Barnes’ version begins with his own house-baked bread sliced a little thinner and topped with a generous portion of crawfish, cheese and seasonings. The bread is then slathered and baked until crisp and golden. Garlic cheese bread fans will appreciate the burst of spicy garlic flavor that explodes in your mouth after each bite – the result of Barnes blending his own spices.
“I make my own spice blends. That way I can control the salt that goes into them. Commercial Cajun/Creole spice blends have too much salt,” Barnes said. He firmly believes cooking and baking from scratch produces the best results. “You can find me hand-chopping the trinity [onions, peppers and celery] almost any time.”
The trinity is the foundation of mouth-watering Gumbo, Jambalaya and Étouffée, all top-sellers along with the ultimate Cajun hand-held – the Po’boy, which can also be made as a wrap.
“We make them just like we do with original po’boy – dressed with lettuce, tomato and our homemade remoulade sauce,” Barnes said.
According to Les Bon Temps’ customers, especially those who hail from Louisiana, the gumbo and po’boys are the best. Coming from native Louisianans, those are big kudos, which explains why the gumbo often sells out.
Remoulade is the “come back” sauce in Creole dishes. So good you want to “come back” for more. It’s the secret that elevates a good po’boy into a great one. Po-boys are available with shrimp, catfish or crawfish – either deep fried or sautéed with Cajun spice. The fried or sautéed option also is offered on the West Bank Cajun Nachos, a Tex-Mex Creole fusion. Cajun Nachos and the Big Easy Wings, marinated in St. Louis Red Hot Riplets seasoning, are popular both as an appetizer or as a meal.
“Whatever you order, you can make it as spicy as you want,” said Barnes. Anyone can add extra spice and hot sauce tableside to customize that bowl of jambalaya, Shrimp & Grits or Red Beans and Rice.
Speaking of spice, don’t overlook the Blacken Creole Chicken Salad. It’s one of four salads on the menu, including the Plain Big Salad, which is far from plain – sporting seasonal lettuce, tomato, homemade croutons and tossed with Creole Ranch.
Entrees, bowls and seafood plates round out the menu along with combo specials.
“People really like the combos because you can get up to three bowls with a po’boy, chicken wings or a Muffuletta. It’s a good way to sample more of the menu,” said Barnes.
Any Louisianan knows food makes the party. That’s why Les Bon Temps provides a variety of catering options. As Barnes said, “I want to bring you the best Creole food to you so the good times will roll.”