I like to describe myself not as a food critic but rather a food enthusiast. That’s because there’s too much good stuff to eat out there that it’s simply not worth my time or yours to dwell on the bad or the unremarkable. It’s for the latter reasons that I never covered the Foundry on the Bayou in Thibodaux. At least until now.
The Foundry just never did it for me before. I was excited when it first opened, but the food was unfocused and a bit overpriced. When they later changed the menu, I just didn’t care for anything I had there. Its one redeeming quality was the great bar upstairs with a patio overlooking Downtown Thibodaux and Bayou Lafourche. Part of me always wished that such a beautiful restaurant with such a perfect location had food to match.
Now, it does.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the Foundry has been reborn as a fantastic, upscale Italian restaurant. The interior is beautiful and perfectly suited for a date or a nice, celebratory dinner. The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in is the massive bar, behind which they mix up quality cocktails. My wife Lindsay and I enjoyed negronis that balanced the bitter and sweet flavors to go down easy.
The menu is just small enough that each dish serves a purpose and gives you enough choice without overwhelming you with options. We started with the Escargot aux Champignons, garlicky snails stuffed into mushroom caps atop crostinis swimming in a rich, buttery sauce. We’re a culture that eats “bugs” we dig out of muddy ditches by the pound (crawfish), so don’t let the idea of snails somehow being gross dissuade you from enjoying this decadent appetizer.
We also had a cup of the house turtle soup spiked with a bit of sherry at the table and a Caesar salad before our entrees arrived. Lindsay had the Veal Sorrentina, pan seared and layered with prosciutto, eggplant, and mozzarella with a delicious mushroom marsala sauce. I had the Fish Capri, a sautéed filet generously topped with lump crab meat, crawfish, capers, artichokes, and a rich buerre blanc sauce.
For dessert, Budino, a glass of butterscotch custard topped with a thin layer of salted caramel and whipped cream. Dipping a spoon through the glass to get a cross section of the dessert, you first taste the sweet, soft butterscotch. But when the firmer caramel gets to your tongue, the taste of sea salt contrasts in such a way that it all balances out into a great dessert.
If I had one complaint, it was that the bread got to our table too late to soak up the rest of the sauce from the escargot before our waiter took the plate away. I even thought about asking for some but was thrown off by the complementary bruschetta that found its ways to our table earlier, mistaking it for the Foundry’s over-the-top version of bread service. Nope, it was just a delicious amuse bouche. A first world problem if I ever had one.
I was concerned going into the meal, remembering my past experiences with the restaurant but also fretting over the price. When the menu was first shared online, it lacked any mention of prices, recalling the old adage “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” And yet, when we were seated, not only were the prices there on the menu, but they were quite affordable considering the quality of the menu. Obviously, food like this prepared so well will always cost more than the typical restaurants we’re accustomed to, but for the occasional fancy night out, the Foundry is very well priced.
We look forward to returning, next time to the bar upstairs where the same new menu is served. I love the idea of making a meal out of the exciting appetizer options like the aforementioned escargots, fried green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade, and oyster trio. The cocktail menu and selection of draft beers is also impressive.
Meals like this satisfy more than my immediate appetite. Finding food like this at a beautiful local restaurant where it’s clear everyone involved is focused on producing a quality experience is the reason I do this. It doesn’t matter if it’s a casual food truck or a five-star restaurant with a dress code, I live for food as good as what we enjoyed at the new and improved Foundry on the Bayou.
The Foundry on the Bayou | 715 W 1st St, Thibodaux | (985) 387-4070