Boo-Ray's of New Orleans, a new Cajun restaurant near Lake Worth, is co-owned by Scott Marks, who certainly has a pedigree in Cajun food: He's a New Orleans native; a former manager for famed New Orleans restaurateur Al Copeland; and a founder, chef and manager for the original Razzoo's Cajun Cafe.
After a decade-long stint with Razzoo's, Marks, along with business partner Richard Sloan, opened the first Boo-Ray's in 2004 in Hudson Oaks. Six months ago came this Fort Worth location, in the space once occupied by Eagle Ranch Steakhouse.
Cajun food is the focus, with staples like jambalaya, oyster loaf and po-boy sandwiches and fried alligator. Burgers and steaks are offered, too. Except for some of the salad dressings, dishes are made from scratch, Marks says, using family recipes.
Marks' family obviously didn't believe in using excessively hot spices. The only thing that needed to be eaten in small bites was the terrific jambalaya ($4.29 side, $10.79 entree). The traditional New Orleans stew consisted of bits of chicken, sliced andouille sausage, seasoned white rice and chunks of shrimp. A creole sauce made with chipotle peppers gave it a ferocious kick.
Easier on the tongue was the fried alligator appetizer ($7.39), one of the restaurant's specialties (also available as an entree, $14.99). It was a generous pile of bite-size, battered strips that closely resembled the mound of seasoned fries upon which it was served. While gator can be chewy, this meat, which comes from farm-raised gators in Church Point, La., was moist and flavorful, having the taste and texture of shrimp.
Another highlight was the Fresh Fish Bucktown entree ($15.69), consisting of a fresh 8-ounce tilapia laid across white rice. Blanketed across the tender, lightly battered fish was an excellent, rich sauce of white wine, white pepper, crawfish and shrimp. A side of green beans was an acquired taste, having been made in a tangy, cream-based broth of andouille sausage and tasso ham juices.
Also very good was shrimp en brochette ($15.79), in which eight flash-fried, bite-size shrimp came wrapped in soft twirls of bacon. Tucked inside the shrimp were tiny, tasty tufts of Monterey Jack cheese and jalapeno. In addition to the aforementioned green beans, dirty rice came on the side -- the old-school kind, cooked with onions, celery, garlic and, among other ingredients, chicken parts.
A bowl of seafood gumbo ($5.59) was the only disappointment. It overflowed with white rice and shrimp, tilapia and crabmeat. But the broth had an unusually dark color to it and a bitter taste.
Three desserts were offered: bread pudding, a brownie with ice cream and pecan pie cheesecake, all $4.99. Our choice, a generous square of bread pudding, was packed with bits of peaches and pecans and draped in a thick bourbon sauce spiked with Jack Daniel's.
The restaurant is spacious, with two dining rooms and a bar area. Atmosphere is family-friendly, with comfy booths and roomy tables. Service is quick, friendly and knowledgeable. Colorful murals of New Orleans adorn the walls.