For best results, order the boil, with lots of sauce on the side, and dig in with both hands
In retrospect, I regret not making a bigger mess at Cajun House.
Let me explain: The place, on Cooper Street in Arlington, has signature Cajun boils ($7.99-$15.99 per pound), like sausage, shrimp, clams or mussels. (Add corn or potatoes for 99 cents.) Each comes in a bag that practically gets dumped in front of you, but not before the table is covered with a plastic liner.
So what I’m saying is, feel free to make a mess.
The sausage boil was both sweet and spicy, and just one pound was more than enough for two. (Try it with the corn.) You can order boils with up to a “knock-out” level of spiciness.
There are other Cajun goodies here, too: po-boys, fried stuff like onion rings ($3.99) and calamari ($6.99), and food with legs, like crab and crawfish.
The fried chicken po-boy ($8.99) was a departure from the usual catfish sandwich, but overly salty. Cut the sodium in half and you’ve got a potentially stellar and crispy chicken filet on your hands.
The separate po-boy sauce was the real draw — a creamy, sweet, spicy and slightly tangy mayo-mustard that can be paired with anything you order.
And it’s actually worth a trip to the restaurant just to dip its house-made Cajun-flavored potato chips ($2.99) into that sauce.
The fried alligator ($12.99), like chicken but slightly less tender, was sweet and spicy like the sausage. The Cajun fries aren’t made in-house, but we ate handfuls of them anyway.
You can also combine fried items ($10.99 for two, $12.99 for three).
The most balanced flavor came from the shrimp gumbo ($6.99; also available with sausage or crawfish), with a level degree of saltiness, and a peppery, creamy stock.
We did find one seemingly unsalted appetizer: steamed red-skin potatoes (99 cents).
The restaurant has the right idea: spicy, sweet, with a little heat — everything I expect from Cajun food. It just needs to dial down the sodium a bit across the board. And while it’s at it, throw that po-boy sauce into every dish.