Lent starts today, and that means lots of people will abstain from eating meat on Fridays.
But, let’s be real. That’s never been a problem in south Louisiana, where seafood is plentiful on local menus.
However, some restaurants not especially known for dishing up shrimp, fish and crawfish do add special items to accommodate those observing Lent.
“We’re only in our second year of business in a brick-and-mortar, but we knew last year that if we didn’t offer a Lenten menu, we wouldn’t have much business on Fridays,” said Blair Loup, spokeswoman for Gov’t Taco in White Star Market at 4624 Government St.
Loup said the eatery will feature “a special Lent-friendly taco each Friday,” and offer its Buffalo Krill taco during all 40 days of Lent.
“It’s a take on our popular Buffalo Bill, which is a Buffalo chicken taco,” Loup said. “Our Buffalo Krill is made with crispy buffalo shrimp, blue cheese crema, cabbage, and carrot slaw and micro cilantro.”
Other offerings include Shrimper Fi, a taco filled with crispy Gulf shrimp, cabbage, tomatoes, jalapeño aioli and pickled jalapeños; and Christmas in Cali, made of street corn, crispy mahi, white barbecue sauce and green onion.
Sgt. Shucks-A-Lot, filled with crispy oysters, French bread croutons, Parmesan, Romano, garlic butter sauce and parsley also is on the Lenten menu, as well as Squid Pro Quo, which includes fried calamari, preserved lemon horseradish crema, pickled peppers and napa cabbage.
“Some of our regular menu items fit into Lenten season, including our catfish taco, called The Catfish Are Coming,” said Loup, listing its ingredients: molasses mustard fried catfish, corn maque choux, crispy greens and house-made hot sauce.
And, Loup pointed out, seafood isn’t always required for Lenten dishes.
“Our Magna Carrot is one of the most delicious tacos that we offer,” she said. “It’s made with cane-glazed carrots, black bean purée, goat cheese, chimichurri and pepitas.”
Serop’s Cafe, 7474 Corporate Blvd., also is serving up Lenten specials.
The restaurant is known for its Greek and Lebanese food, but owner Sami Kobrossi said seafood dishes now account for 85% of sales.
“And we’re big-time Catholics,” he said, “so we have to offer Lent items every year.”
Among its appetizers is seafood gumbo, while lunch and dinner offerings include flounder Terrebone, a broiled flounder stuffed with shrimp, crab and crawfish tails topped by with a cream sauce.
Flounder Mediterranean — broiled flounder stuffed with shrimp, crab and crawfish tails, and topped with artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and Kalamata olives — also is a popular dish.
The menu also includes a seafood platter of fried shrimp, fried fish and soft-shell crab; seafood lasagna; and shrimp or fish salad.
And for vegetable lovers, there’s the eggplant royale with eggplant medallions topped by fresh vegetables, and creamy shrimp and crawfish sauce.
The full Lenten menus will be not be available at Serop’s Express locations.
“They are offering only fish,” Kobrossi said.
Mardi Gras is a month away, so there’s still plenty of time to eat plenty of king cake.
Although Ruffino’s Italian Restaurant, 18811 Highland Road, hasn’t developed a special menu for Lent, it does highlight its seafood offerings during the season.
“We have multiple seafood options and salad options, and we’ll probably offer some specials,” said spokeswoman Peyton Johnson.
One popular item, she said, is shrimp Sorrento, made with jumbo Gulf shrimp topped by vodka tomato cream sauce over capellini pasta.
“We also offer our fish of the day and our fish Katie, which is redfish with jumbo lump crabmeat, Creole meunière, hollandaise and roasted potatoes,” Johnson said.
And those wanting to abstain from meat can order Ruffino’s spaghetti topped by a meatless sauce or its eggplant Parmesan.
“Keep checking back on our online menu to see if there are any specials,” Johnson added.
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