Sincerely Yours Cheesecakes could certainly benefit from a name change. Not only does this small restaurant in Hurst serve excellent, house-made cheesecake, it offers a handful of solid Cajun dishes. In other words, leave room for dinner.
Given his background as a deli owner, banker and native of Tulsa, Okla., owner Douglas Warner may seem an unlikely candidate to serve authentic Cajun food. But he's using recipes from his family in New Orleans, and instead of offering a full slate of dishes, he's zeroing in on just a few, including étouffée, gumbo and po-boys. There are no fried foods, but they may be added later, Warner says.
Opened in July, Sincerely Yours is a mom-and-pop restaurant in the truest sense: Warner manages the kitchen and wife Laureen runs the floor, taking orders at the counter and delivering food to the tables. With basic wood tables, chairs and pub stools, and design elements consisting mostly of Bourbon Street photos and images of famed blues musicians, the atmosphere is bare-bones. The food is simple, too, but the straightforward approach works for both.
There are no appetizers, but you may not need one since entrees come with a side salad and French bread. The salad is odd, though, a mixture of greens, twirls of purple onions, shredded Monterey and cheddar cheese, and pickles. Ask them to nix the cheese and pickles and bring on the house-made Cajun garlic dressing, a sweet-and-spicy keeper.
Crawfish étouffée ($11.99) was a knockout. A bed of white rice was covered with dozens of fresh, sauteed crawfish, tender and tiny, and a tomato-based roux sauce with a thick texture and light color. Some restaurants go overboard with the spices in roux sauce, but this was a nearly perfect balance of kick and nuance -- spicy, yes, but not enough to overshadow its richness and fresh flavor. The étouffée was a huge portion, too; you'll either need a to-go box or a date.
Another impresser was the chicken and sausage gumbo ($8.99), consisting of white rice, slices of pork andouille sausage and pulled chicken, all swimming in a thin, dark roux made from the "holy trinity" of gumbo: celery, onions and bell peppers.
Accompanying both entrees were slices of store-bought French bread, cut lengthwise and appropriately smeared with garlic butter, lightly toasted and topped with parsley. With entrees this strong, you wish they'd up the ante on the bread, either by making their own or using fresh bread from a good local bakery.
The only dish that missed the mark was the grilled shrimp po-boy ($5.99). There was plenty of shrimp, but they were cocktail-size, and didn't look or taste as if they had been grilled. The same salad mix we had earlier confronted us again, held together by the same pedestrian French bread.
From the half-dozen cheesecake options, we ordered a slice of strawberry-banana ($3.99) and loved the fact that initially we thought we'd been served banana pudding by mistake. The texture was different than what most people expect from cheesecake -- the mix wasn't firm but soft, creamy and light. It's a less eggs/less flour approach that Warner takes, so you won't feel so bloated after eating it.
More room for the étouffée.