The Bayou, 645 South State Street, SLC, Utah
Mon. – Fri. 11 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Sat. and Sun. 5 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Reviewed Wed., April 22, 2009 and Mon., May 4, 2009
I love beer! I’m not a heavy drinker—just someone who loves his beer. I almost never drink liquor and I have an allergy that keeps me from drinking much wine, but beer is one of my favorite things. I drink beer like a connoisseur: never intending to get wasted, but savoring every sip. I am also very picky about my beer and tend to stick mostly to micro brews and imports. I know, that makes me a snob, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone who regularly reads this column. So, when the good people over at SLUG asked me to write about The Bayou for the annual Beer Issue, I got a little distracted for a moment, drifting off into the land of “Beervana” with little mugs, goblets and glasses of amber and chocolate liquid dancing around my head. Mmmmm, I love beer.

Owner Mark Alston proudly displays the Bayou's mammoth beer menu.
Photo: Sunny Thompson

The Bayou is known for its mammoth beer menu boasting 260 bottles to choose from as well as 32 brews on tap. In all the years I’ve been hanging around the place, I have barely made a dent in that list, not to mention their seasonal list. Divided into sections by variety, it is easy enough to find a beer you like, whether it be a Pale Ale, Belgian or Stout. I tend to spend a lot of time with the darker beers like the Rogue: Mocha Porter ($5) or the Anderson Valley: Deep End Porter ($7), a smooth rich beer with an almost sweet, chocolate finish. My wife tends to stick to Belgians like the Delirium Tremens ($8) or the Hoegaarden White ($5) although she will often opt for the Pinkus: Weizen ($7) instead. I always like to ask about what beers are off menu and on my last two visits I was lucky enough to get a couple of bottles of the Northgate Brewery’s Old Growler, a special porter so malty on its finish that it almost tasted like Ovaltine. I am pretty sure that we got the last three bottles in the house and apparently they only get that beer once a year. The one thing missing from the beer menu is a selection of Louisiana beers––the place is called The Bayou. I know that it can be hard to get certain beers in Utah, but it would still be nice to be able to sip on a brew from NOLA or Dixie Brewing Co.

I could rave on about the beer selection, but The Bayou is known for its food too. The menu is a little confusing—it’s not entirely clear what kind of food they serve. There seems to be a lot of Cajun-inspired fare, but with pizza and pasta and a smattering of Tex-Mex, the menu comes across as though it’s having a bit of an identity crisis. There are some stand-out items like Blackened Catfish ($13.99) served on a bed of Cajun spiced creamy fettuccini with green beans or the Cajun Game Hen ($15.99)––spicy, fried and served with rosemary potatoes. There are also the Fries ($6.99)––half sweet potato and half regular fries served with a house aioli. They could be the best fucking fries in Utah and would be worth the visit even if they were the only thing ordered. Numerous other restaurants in town have added sweet potato fries to their menus, but not one of them comes close to the fries at The Bayou. Another menu item I tried was the Po Boy Sandwich ($8.99), piled so high with breaded and fried crawfish that is was overwhelming. Maybe it would have been better with the shrimp or catfish, but I would have liked to see a beef option like you would at Momma’s in New Orleans, the birthplace of the Po Boy. The Jambalaya ($11.99), traditionally served as a side but served here as an entrée, was just too big. After trying to consume that much rice, I’m not sure that I can make a fair judgment on the flavor.

My favorite dessert on the menu is the Deep Fried Twinkie ($6.99)—absolutely amazing. I’m not sure why all Twinkies aren’t deep fried, since it ads so much more dimension to the flavor. The New York Cheesecake ($6.99) is average and the Lime Tart, which was the special on one visit, was bland and rubbery. The thing about dining at The Bayou is that, no matter what food I order, be it good or just uninteresting, the staff is friendly and the beer gets me just tipsy enough, that I could never complain. In the end, it’s the beer that brings me in and it’s the beer that will keep me going. Well, the beer and those god-damned fries.