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David Wingard and Donna Pace bring a touch of New Orleans to the Upstate, offering Cajun food and bright folk art in a lively atmosphere.
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Bananas Foster Bread Pudding
If you’re ready to laissez les bon temps rouler, but don’t have the coin to get to Louisiana, take the shorter trip to downtown Easley where the Bleu Voodoo Grill offers the laid-back ambiance and spicy Cajun flavors of New Orleans.
Bleu Voodoo Grill
114 E. Main Street, Easley
Bleu Voodoo’s menu features Cajun specialties such as fresh-cut gator bites, crawfish eggrolls and homemade gumbo alongside Lowcountry favorites like shrimp and grits. Other offerings inspired by the Crescent City include blackened, pan-seared catfish and crawfish etouffee, featuring the traditional “holy trinity” of veggies (onions, peppers, and celery) and tender, sauteed crawfish. Though the menu evolves with the seasons, it always offers fresh alligator, crawfish and oysters straight from Louisiana.
For a beef fix, dig into a Bleu Voodoo burger (with bacon, onion rings, pickled jalapeno peppers and Cajun mayo for that extra kick) with a side of hand-cut sweet potato fries. Wash it all down with one of the more than 30 beers available in the Bonaventure and Bayou bars, including Louisiana favorites like Dixie Blackened Voodoo Lager and Abita. And for dessert, the rumglazed bananas Foster bread pudding will make you think you’ve died and gone to the French Quarter.
The eclectic eatery is the work of David Wingard and Donna Pace, who met when Donna came to work for David at Wingard Jewelers more than 25 years ago. They got their start in the restaurant business in the 1990s when David invested in Easley’s nowdefunct Dixie Star Steakhouse. With the storefront next to the jewelry store sitting vacant, the couple saw an opportunity to build a new downtown eatery from scratch.
Starting in a gutted shell, they spent five years renovating the 7,000-square-foot space, building two unique dining rooms with bars to match. Then they filled the place floor to rafters with trinkets from New Orleans, and David’s colorful folk art paintings inspired by the Big Easy.
“We love New Orleans and we wanted to bring all the components of that feeling together,” Pace says.
Open three nights a week, Bleu Voodoo attracts a steady crowd of regulars who enjoy the novelty of a Cajun dining experience in the Upstate of South Carolina. “We have a following,” Wingard says. “It’s great to have a customer find us and thank us for having this place.”
BANANAS FOSTER BREAD PUDDING
3 loaves plain baguettes
1 quart heavy cream
1/2 gallon whole milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons vanilla
Cut bread into 1-inch squares and mix all ingredients together except for the bananas; let soak for 15 minutes. Butter 24 ramekins and add sliced bananas to bottom. Layer bread pudding mix and another layer of sliced bananas. Top with more bread pudding until the ramekins are three-quarters full. Bake at 350° for 20–25 minutes until golden brown. Top with sliced bananas and rum sauce.
1/2 pound butter
1 pound brown sugar
4 ounces spiced rum
1 cup heavy cream
Melt butter and sugar until sugar dissolves, carefully add rum until mixed. Remove from heat and add cream.
Reservations recommended for parties of five or more.