I’ve always had a thing for places near the Mississippi River, thrilling in the twisting drive along curvaceous River Road as it winds its way up from below New Orleans into Acadiana and beyond. I delight in the verdant, reassuring levee to one side while ignoring the power plants and patches of industry that keep time with the occasional plantation and numerous decaying shacks on the other.
About 30 minutes from New Orleans and just within the easternmost edge of Acadiana, the Truck Farm Tavern pops up, a colorful, pleasant surprise on the side of the road. Crafted from the restored and revamped roadhouse that was once home to the historic St. Rose Tavern, there are now large outdoor spaces for communal dining and events. Within, the colorful farmhouse decor is awash in natural light complemented by salvaged materials, antique farm implements and masses of vibrant art, including a dreamy rendering of the harbor in Havana, Cuba painted by William Woodward in 1921. It once hung in the United Fruit Company building in downtown New Orleans.
The environment sets the stage for Chef Scott Bourgeois’ fun and inventive menu where classic comfort fare and Southern standards are tweaked and rethought. Everyone I have ever dined with at Truck Farm Tavern has fallen in love with the place. The location, the art collection, friendly, efficient service and the very easy prices immediately earn this place a top rating.
A word to the wise: You may show up with your virtue intact but you will probably leave with it in tatters. The portions are as gigantic as the price tags are small and you will probably take home enough to graze upon for days. Case in point: One of my regular dining companions is my daughter’s 6-foot, 6-inch, 21 year-old boyfriend, whom I refer to as The Bottomless Pit. Even he hits the bottom at Truck Farm Tavern.
Truck Farm Tavern is open Thursday through Saturday for lunch and closes early — 8 p.m. on Thursday and 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Bourbon Glazed Pork Chop: Roasted corn, poblano and cheddar cheese grits, pickled peaches, smothered collard greens and a bourbon-laced jus gravy accompany a hefty grilled pork chop
3 Dishes to Try
Combination Smoked BBQ Plate of the Day
The size and heartiness of barbecue portions are a reminder of the building’s blue-collar past This plate serves up portions that may include smoked brisket, smoked chicken, smoked ribs, and smoked chicken wings. All barbecue is smoked daily and served with fresh bread from Wild Flour Bakery, a zippy house barbecue sauce, smothered collard Greens, baked beans, and a creamy potato salad.
Crispy fried Gulf oysters are set atop bed of Rockefeller spinach which is piled atop thick toasted bread slathered with rich lemon aioli
St. Rose Peacemaker
Crispy fried Gulf oysters, pecan-smoked brisket debris, lush house-made tomato jam, and Creole cream cheese fondue are piled within a Leidenheimer loaf
The 13th annual Blackpot Festival and Cookoff is Oct. 26 and 27 in Lafayette’s historic Vermilionville. One of the most distinctive festivals in Louisiana, this one celebrates with two days of dancing, food, camping and jamming. Musicians, artists and southern culture enthusiasts come together to create a gathering of south Louisiana’s hottest roots bands, as well as groups from all over the country. Live performances range from Cajun and Zydeco, to Creole, Swing, Hot Jazz, Blues, Bluegrass, Americana, Irish and Old-Time. There is an old-fashioned blackpot cookoff, accordion contest, square dancing, and ample camping space for tents and RVs.
Blackpot Festival and Cookoff
300 Fisher Road, Lafayette
blackpotfestival.com Truck Farm Tavern
11760 River Road., St. Rose