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Eighth Wonder of the Cajun World

Cavernous as the Dome, Rodeaux shouts for attention with a funky menu that wants to be all things Deep South

It wasn't until we closely examined the Cajun burrito ($7.95) that we realized how much dirty rice we had managed to collect. Each of the seafood platters came with its own mountainous scoop of the rice -- and some tasty steamed and buttered vegetables, our non-carnivore noted happily -- so we were already hip-deep when we discovered that the burrito was just a lot more dirty rice wrapped in a flour tortilla. All the goodies advertised in the menu description, the catfish, shrimp and crawfish, were simply ladled over the football-size package and topped with a soupy cream sauce. We wished it had been better dirty rice, but it wasn't; the crumbly grains tasted an awful lot like that 60-second stuff. Our only really disappointed diner put on a brave face and nibbled the seafood off the top.

The desserts were also a split decision. On the key lime pie ($3.75), the jury awarded points for fresh lime flavor, token demerits for inauthentic meringue topping, and went absolutely crazy for the tangy fresh mango puree that graced the plate in bright yellow ribbons. And what about the brownie with ice cream ($4.25)? Again, you'd think another no-brainer, but the brownie was thin, dry and tasted unappealingly of carob. Hurray for the tart drizzle of raspberry coulis on that plate, since the "hot homemade chocolate sauce" was missing in action. (I wonder if the kitchen would consider selling those fruit purees solo? That way we wouldn't have to lick our plates.)

As we left that day, we noticed that giant spotlights had been wheeled into position in the parking lot for Rodeaux's scheduled "grand" opening, poised to light up the sky and wake anyone in the area who can sleep through the music. There's nothing shy about this place, no sir. And once you've separated the winners from the losers, it's a darn good time.

Rodeaux Cajun Palace, 2401 Wayside, 2401 Wayside,

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