Cajun cuisine's distinct spices stem from its attitude-laden ingredients, such as brazen pork cheek, incredulous crawfish, and sassy-fras. Give your taste buds some lip with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of Cajun cuisine at Ragin' Cajun in Belmar.
Ragin' Cajun serves up spicy southern fare with Yankee style, and the founder is a former waitress whose irrepressible frankness had angry chefs lobbing steak sandwiches, a hard-boiled egg, and stock pots at her head until she opened her own place. She now crafts an extensive menu of her own bayou-inspired creations, such as the lobster bisque, a slightly spiced variation of the classic soup spiked with madeira wine ($7.95). Test taste buds' heat index with the jambalaya, abounding with chicken ($16.95) or shrimp ($17.95) and enough spice to make Christopher Columbus’s ghost weep with regret.
Slightly sensitive tongues can explore Cajun grilled jumbo shrimp blackened in a house Cajun seasoning and served with red beans, rice, broccoli, and creole mustard dipping sauce ($18.95). Live music inspires tableside two-stepping and sentimental montages of meals past, and the Chicken Baton Rouge showcases rice piled to the grainy heavens with vegetables and chunks of white chicken breast simmered in Cajun seasoning ($16.95).
Chef Tracie Orsi put in years of service in the resort circuit and culinary industry, taking verbal abuse from irate chefs, working under unskilled cooks, and—the final straw—nearly taking a steak sandwich to the face. After discovering the rich flavors and deep-rooted traditions of Cajun cuisine, Tracie decided to run a kitchen her way, cutting up with her friends as she crafts authentic feasts of stew, seafood, pasta, and chicken infused with the rich spices and seasonings of southern Louisiana.
She dices up fresh veggies and jumbo shrimp and sprinkles them throughout a spice-laden array of étouffée, gumbo, and jambalaya. Mouths warm up with tender morsels of alligator sausage and spoons swan dive off noses and breach a layer of gruyère cheese before plunging into onion soup. Broccoli, carrots, and squash soak up spicy tomato stew in the veggie creole, and the chicken and shrimp étouffées smother chunks of meat with spicy brown gravy. For dessert, dining companions make telepathic arguments for who should get the bigger halves of bananas-foster and pecan-pie servings. While diners partake, live blues and jazz bands inspire them to pop the corks of BYOB bottles along with the basslines five nights per week.