The Weeping Willow in downtown Thibodaux is the kind of place where you think about dessert before you even order lunch. It’s hard not to when rows and rows of colorful confections are prominently displayed beside the register and the smell of freshly brewed coffee wafts through the air. But you might have an easier time keeping your priorities straight if, among the towering slices of cake, there sat a pot of the Willow’s tomato basil soup to taunt your taste buds.
When I lived in Thibodaux, my wife and I would try to visit the Willow every Saturday for lunch. Part of the appeal is the charming downtown location with its old architecture and years of implied history, but I mostly loved our weekly lunches there because I knew exactly what I would order and that I would love every bite.
There are daily soups and other sandwiches as well as salads on the Weeping Willow’s simple menu, but I never went wrong ordering the tomato basil soup and the namesake Willow sandwich. It’s a sad moment when you discover they’re out of the soup, but it’s available almost every day. Each version I try elsewhere is doomed to be compared to the Willow’s with it’s thick, slightly chunky texture exploding with garlic and basil flavor and just a bit of lingering spice. The best way to eat it is by dipping a corner of Willow sandwich and inserting directly into mouth.
The sandwich would be ordinary (though still tasty) were it not for the addition of Caesar dressed lettuce and a generous dollop of pesto to the turkey, ham, swiss, and provolone. Fresh baked bread doesn’t hurt either. I usually prefer trying something different when I revisit a restaurant, but this combination is so simple and satisfying that it’s one of the few meals I consistently order every time. It’s the best soup and sandwich around.
Once you’ve depleted your bowl and used the debris of your sandwich to sop up any lingering taste of soup, only then should you reward yourself for initially resisting the baked goods. If there’s cake, ordering a slice is almost always the right move. Lemon cream, chocolate raspberry, cream cheese iced carrot, they’re all good. And massive! Share a slice with the table if you don’t want to hate yourself for the rest of the afternoon.
It’s a testament to their quality that my burning hatred for cupcakes finds me a hypocrite at the Weeping Willow enjoying an Elvis (peanut butter and banana) or king cake cup cake there from time to time. And just as every meal at the Willow should start the same way, with tomato basil soup, it should also end with coffee. They can make whatever combination of flavor and style you like, but I prefer a regular coffee so I can enjoy it in a real cup. There’s something appealing about drinking coffee that way.
We can’t get out to the Weeping Willow nearly as often as we’d like to anymore, and that’s probably for the best because eating the same meal over and over doesn’t make for riveting food writing. But anytime I’m in the area, I know a perfect lunch is waiting there for me.
Weeping Willow Cafe | 704 W 3rd St, Thibodaux | (985) 448-0444