Nestled snugly at the corner of 8th and Vermont, Terrebonne Cafe is an oasis of cajun charm in the heart of Lawrence. Terrebonne’s signature dish is the po’ boy sandwich, a Louisiana staple characterized by fried meat and a distinct tangy sauce, however this is far from the cafe’s sole offering. The vast catalog of options at Terrebonne also includes more commonplace American subs such as the Philly cheesesteak and BLT, other traditional cajun staples like gumbo and jambalaya, classic southern comfort food sides including corn dogs and okra, a tantalizing collection of cake slices, and even cans of $2 beer to wash it all down if you really want to bring the spirit of Mardi Gras to Lawrence (just don’t forget that Bourbon Street rules don’t apply once you walk outside).
Before entering the cafe, I already get a warm and fuzzy feeling despite the frigid gusts of wind numbing my hands. The crimson exterior of the building stands out among the sea of grey surrounding it, with a string of lightbulbs dangling from the wine stained roof illuminating the dreary February day in a rope of amber. The cozy aura of the cafe’s facade only amplifies as I walk inside. Highlighted by the quilt of tapestries covering the ceiling, a wide array of quaint needlepoint art lining the walls, and even a sizable plush gator hovering from the ceiling, staring down at me with a friendly gaze that says he’d rather cuddle than eat me for lunch. I take a long hard look at the menu wishing I could sample each one of the cafe’s boundless options, finally settling on a po’ boy with fried shrimp, and a side of hush puppies which pique my interest with their wonderfully whimsical name.
After a short wait, in which I take in the homey ambiance with blues rock jamming in the background, my food arrives and to my elation I finally get to experience the main attraction. The restaurant’s signature po’ boy does not fall flat in the least. Laying on the plush bedding of a fresh french roll, the tender fried shrimp is so crisp and buttery I forget we’re not actually in the French Quarter, blending in perfect harmony with the splendidly tangy remoulade sauce along with the accompanying toppings of lettuce, tomatoes, and onions to perform a canorous southern rock symphony on my taste buds. The hush puppies fail to disappoint as well, as I find out the snack lives up to its top notch name. A series of three marvelously pillowy balls of deep fried cornmeal batter, the savory side dish is a delightful change of pace which caps off my meal with a bang. Satisfied to the fullest with my meal after discovering the existence of these magnificent orbs of fluff, my only regret is lacking the foresight to leave room for dessert, as I feel the saccharine temptation of the toffee buttercream bars to my right staring into my soul with blazing passion. Another day I suppose, as my inaugural visit to this little nook of New Orleans will certainly not be my last.
Overall, the only way you could leave Terrebonne Cafe feeling dissatisfied is if you go on a Sunday to find the door locked and interior vacant. However from Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m to 9 p.m, Terrebonne is the place to be if you want a taste of southern enchantment to warm your heart in the midst of this glacial midwestern winter.