Cristal and Charlie’s New Place: American Farmhouse Produce & Grill

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Cristal and Me

My college roommate Cristal and her husband Charlie have opened a new restaurant in Central LA called the American Farmhouse Produce and Grill. You are going to want to “like” them on Facebook here, but you will LOVE it in person. If there’s one thing I know about Louisiana, it’s that the food is phenomenal. My friend Michael texted me yesterday with one of those images that are frequently posted on Facebook:

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I’ve known a few people who don’t like Louisiana food, but I’ve blocked them on Facebook. That’s just weird. No telling how messed up they are in other areas of their life if they don’t like the food in my home state. I have to draw the line somewhere, and that’s the line into psycho-dom. Anyway, I think their new place is going to be a mainstay. If it’s not good food, it won’t survive, and everything, I mean everything was good when I experienced it twice this weekend.

Friday night I went with my brother Sammy’s family. I had the 10 oz. ribeye blackened with lump crabmeat and garlic cream sauce covering the top. I actually don’t like meat very much. I know… it’s strange, but even as a girl, I preferred my food without much meat. I ate every bite of that steak. It was the perfect portion, and it was so tender it literally melted in my mouth. Our server suggested the loaded mashed potatoes as a side, and they were great, too … just like a loaded baked potato without the skin and the work to mash it up. Yummy! I was jealous of my nephew’s shrimp po-boy. It looked fabulous, and he said it was.

Click on the pics to read the captions.

I hung around after dinner to visit with Cristal and Charlie, and they strong-armed me into trying Mellie’s Blueberry-White Chocolate bread pudding. OMG … it was just like bread pudding should be .. moist with just enough of a chewy texture to know you’ve got it in your mouth. It was drowning in white chocolate sauce that was sweet but not overly so. Mellie apologized that they were out of the fresh blueberries that they put on top, but, to be honest, I could have cared less. It was delicious. It was fun to hang around the young waitstaff at the bar as they debriefed the evening and had some adult libations to take the edge off. I understand that the Farmhouse Iced Tea is unbelievably good. Cristal was so bummed that I couldn’t take a sample of the brewed sweet tea laced with Mango Rum. I was a bit bummed myself. It sounded so good.

Since I got stranded in Louisiana after losing my keys – yes, I’m still here – I decided to go back on Monday night to sample another dish. Ray and Donna Henderson hosted me at their house on the Tickfaw River Monday afternoon, and they decided to join me as Charlie and Cristal are old friends of theirs, too. Ray and Charlie played football together at my old alma mater, Southeastern Louisiana University. Ray had seen the picture of my steak Friday night on Facebook, and he had been salivating ever since. Besides, he’s dieting, and I think it was a good excuse to blow it. He can always start today. Ray … party’s over.

Ray had the same steak I had Friday, I had the shrimp and oyster combo meal, and Donna had the St. Louis Ribs. We decided to share an order of the bread pudding. There wasn’t one thing that didn’t get devoured. It was all delicious, particularly visiting with the owners and Cristal’s family who were there for their Father’s Day celebration. After dinner, I hung out again with my buddies. It’s kind of fun to have some friends who are opening their own restaurant. Charlie is the entrepreneur type, and he has re-invented himself numerous times, so this is right up his alley. However, he’s never owned a restaurant, so it’s a new kind of business, and one where he’s learning as he goes. They’ve had some adventures already. His vision is to create a place where you can shop for locally grown and raised food in the produce market, meat market and deli and then eat breakfast, lunch or dinner tastefully prepared with local food. In the future, they plan to add an oyster bar and outside patio. One step at a time, though.

The place was packed Friday. Monday was a little slower, but I think they are well on their way to success. The service is good, the food is flawless, and the menu is much more than you would expect. I asked my sister-in-law what she thought, and surprising was the word she used. She said she would have expected hamburgers and po-boys but was very pleasantly surprised that it was more like a Louisiana seafood restaurant with some great steak options as well. Their concept seems to be There’s something for everyone, and they are doing it well. If you’re in the area, it’s worth giving it a try. Tell Cristal and Charlie I said hi. And don’t forget to save room for that bread pudding. I’m not kidding. That stuff is divine.

American Farmhouse Produce & Grill
9550 Hooper Road
Central LA 70714
(225) 636-2684

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