Razzoo’s has been doing its level corporate best to create the “laissez les bons temps rouler” feeling of a genuine New Orleans, gumbo-fueled par-tay for 22 years. Because it has been around so long, it’s easy to take the DFW mini-chain for granted.
That’s why we decided to renew our appreciation for Razzoo’s by visiting its latest outpost in north Fort Worth — No. 18 and counting. And we were reminded of the adage about not fixing something that ain’t broke.
Sure enough, all the familiar touches greet you here, from the exterior logo shining in its trademark orange, blue and green neon, to an interior music room echoing with accordion and harp-pumping zydeco music. The main dining room’s ceiling is a riot of brass instruments, bass drums, railroad crossing signs and other detritus all thrown together thanks to a fictitious tornado. Razzoo’s never takes itself too seriously.
The Cajun restaurant will always be on its firmest culinary footing when its kitchen is frying — anything from jalapeños and crawfish tails, to shrimp, catfish, chicken and steak.
Both starters — from the fried crawfish tails ($7.49) to the rat toes (fried jalapeños stuffed with shrimp and crab, $6.89) — were paragons of Razzoo’s frying prowess. The wafer-thin batter shell was faultlessly grease-free. The crawfish tails were the more successful of the two because they didn’t offer the false promise of the rich interior of crab and shrimp that was largely AWOL from the rat toes.
The Cajun combo skillet ($12.29) was headlined by a wonderfully grilled andouille sausage that cut across a bayou’s worth of shrimp Creole and shrimp etouffee, flanked by the always reliable red beans and rice. The only quibbles are that the various cooking methods imparted a one-note, stewlike texture to all the proteins and the corn on the cob side was soggy.
The seafood combo platter ($14.99 and big enough for two) is another of the restaurant’s patented New Orleans culinary tours on a plate. This time, it’s the shrimp, catfish and crawfish receiving the deep-fried treatment. The highlight of this dish was how the three house-made sauces nicely accented the seafood: Tangy cocktail sauce married well with the bullet-size shrimp; a complex remoulade-tartar sauce, flecked with fresh dill, danced rhythmically with the crawfish; and the sweet-savory cherry mustard sauce perked up juicy catfish fillets.
In what amounts to the most unapologetically diet-demolishing dish at Razzoo’s, the jambalaya pasta ($12.89) tossed together representatives of turf (bits of chicken, chunks of andouille sausage) with surf (shrimp, the daily fresh fish and crawfish tails) into a sea of penne, all enveloped in a jambalaya sauce heavily indebted to its cream base.
The only way to crown this Big Easy meal was with a suitably gargantuan piece of bread pudding ($5.29). It played only one sweet note thanks to its dark rum-caramel sauce infusing every bready nook and cranny. Smartly, this pudding contrasted the squishy texture of its interior with a scattering of crunchy pecans.
Twenty-two years and 18 Razzoo’s later, the mini-local chain should not be faulted for sticking to its winning ways — no matter how mainstream they might be. And there is something to be said for a restaurant that celebrates the food of New Orleans while extolling the virtues of one of the South’s oldest culinary truisms: Everything tastes better when it’s fried.
RAZZOO’S CAJUN CAFE
2950 Texas Sage Trail
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday & Saturday