We had the pleasure dining at the Free Man Cajun Café in Deep Ellum last evening. We were greeted by the bartender, Chris, who told us to have a seat and he would be our waiter as the rest of the staff was not here yet! Now for those you, not familiar with Deep Ellum, it does not start waking up until about 8:00pm (it is 6:45pm). There is a band setting up. Four good looking young men, in black suits with white shirts and black ties. Hmmm, this could be good. Ohhh, listen to that man warm up on the keyboard……don’t laugh I know nothing about music and have problems playing the radio, but I can tell you this guy is different(in a very good way.
We decide to order the Hot Crab Dip (11.00) as an appetizer. It came all hot and bubbly with toasted bread. It has a cream cheese base with light spices, filled with plenty of crab and topped with cheddar cheese. We may not have licked the bowl clean, but it was considered briefly.
They list four different Appetizers on their menu: In addition to the Hot Crab Dip, they offer Gator Tail, Cajun Wings, Boudin balls, and Crab Stuffed Jalapenos. All of these appetizers are offered with French Fries to make a basket meal. I decide to order a Gator Tail Basket (11.00) as my meal. The alligator is coated in a medium spicy breading and deep fried. A couple of the pieces were a little tough, but the others are all tender. (Hello, it is gator, so sometimes that is what you get). The gator meat has a mild flavor not too gamey (sometimes it can taste like mud). Batter spice is mild and nice with a little chaser of heat. It is not greasy and seems rather light for a fried dish.
I added a cup of gumbo (5.50) to the Gator Tails. This is a good tasting gumbo with chicken, sausage, and shrimp. It is topped with rice and another big piece of shrimp. The flavor is quite good. Spicy, but not too spicy. Maybe I should have order a bowl instead.
Terry orders the Jambalaya (12.00). This is one BIG bowl of jambalaya! Not too thick, not too runny but just right. The meat is tender and juicy. And some good sized chunks of onion that burst in your mouth when you bite into them. No need for hot sauce on this meal. The flavor starts out soft and gentle, then rises to rock and ROLL!
During this meal we are enjoying the sounds of the Seth Weaver Quartet -Seth is a Vocalist/Jazz Trombonist who is studying at NTU as a Jazz Studies Major. He is a little bit of Sinatra, some Harry Connick Jr, a little twist of this and then some of that. He and his three sidekicks (Justin Heaverin(bass), Dustin Kiselback(drums) and Damian Garcia,keyboard), are all Jazz students at UNT that get together are playing Friday nights from7-9pm. You should stop by and check them out. Or check the calendar to see where they are playing here: http://sethweavermusic.com/gig. They are available for hire, weddings, special events, etc! Oh and that keyboard that set my heart racing was Damian.
Now for the dilemma. Neither one of us ate half of their entrée but we’re both pretty full. What about dessert? Momma’s not here so there’s nobody to tell us no dessert unless we clean our plate. The Nana Puddin’ ($4.50) is made after you order it so the ‘nilla wafers don’t get soggy and it sounds good but we go all out. The Cranberry Wheat Bread Pudding ($5.50) is as described, “sweet and delicious bread pudding kissed with a bourbon glaze.” We can attest to the “sweet” and the “delicious.”
Chris told us that Freeman is not really a bar – it’s all about the food. Based on our experience, we’d agree. If you need a little taste of N’Orleans a little closer to home, head out to the Freeman Cajun Café and Lounge. Oh, and they have music 7 nights a week and there is no service charge!