Last Friday, I convinced my friends Jonathan, Clint, and Matt to try out Cajun Invasion in Franklin, Tennessee. Cajun Invasion, as the name implies, is a Cajun/Creole restaurant that has been open for a few months now. Because I’ve never actually been to Louisiana, I can’t really tell you what “real” Cajun/Creole cuisine tastes like. What I do know is that I like it a lot… however the only kind I’ve tasted were at restaurants that claimed to be an authentic Cajun & Creole joint or had select items on the menu. Of all those places, two of them are among my all-time favorites. The first is Bourbon n’ Toulouse in Lexington, Kentucky and the other is Raz’z Bar & Grill.
Another thing I’ll admit is that in Tennessee, I’ve not had that many opportunities to try Cajun/Creole cuisine. If I ever wanted to fulfill my Cajun cravings, I would drive over to Raz’z and order both their jambalaya and their gumbo in one sitting. Raz’z jambalaya and gumbo is one of the best I’ve had but this was, of course when I lived in Smyrna. Since having moved away, I have not found a convenient time to visit Raz’z.
But because Cajun Invasion is just a few miles down the road of my work, I decided to give it a shot. Near the border of Brentwood and Franklin on Franklin Road, Cajun Invasion is sandwiched between two popular restaurants, Mack & Kate’s and Sopapilla’s (both of which I’ve heard amazing things about). Their location is easily seen from Franklin Road, mainly because Cajun Invasion has a big sign hanging above their doors.
On the inside, you’ll find that Cajun Invasion is somewhat small with limited seating. There are only about 15 or so tables in the whole restaurant (most of them being 4-tops) with the remainder of the seats being located at the bar. Decor was limited to random memorabilia dedicated to Louisiana and a wall of photos of Louisiana celebrities. Other than that, Cajun Invasion was rather plain.
While trying to figure out what to order, we all decided to order some Boudin Balls ($8) as an appetizer. A Boudin ball is a ball of filling used in Cajun-style Boudin blanc sausages, rolled into a ball and then battered and fried. The filling of Cajun-style Boudin blanc is typically ground pork, rice dressing (much like dirty rice), bell peppers, onions, and celery with various spices. Cajun Invasion’s recipe also included ground beef. Served on a small platter, 8 reasonably sized Boudin balls served with tangy ranch-like dipping sauce. Each Boudin ball was fried to a golden brown and cutting it open revealed a moist filling. Since these were supposed to be sausage balls, I expected more of a meatier filling. In addition, I expected more of a sausage flavor but perhaps it was the fact that it was mixed with rice and beef that somehow “diluted” the intensity of the sausage.
When it came time to actually order our food, Clint wanted a crawfish boil and I think Matt wanted a crawfish po’boy. What I found odd was that they were told by the waitress they didn’t have any crawfish and couldn’t serve any of the crawfish-related menu items. She didn’t specify why they didn’t have them (or if they would). We all assumed that it might be related to the “season” for crawfish. Still though, to not have any whatsoever, especially for a restaurant that features crawfish items is bad in my opinion. I know for a fact that you can get them frozen, especially from crawfish farms (such as Louisiana Crawfish Company) down in Louisiana. Clint opted for the Cajun Shrimp Dinner ($15) and Matt & Jonathan both chose the Shrimp Po’Boy ($12). I asked the waitress if the gumbo and jambalaya were any good and she simply responded with “I don’t like them”. I repeated myself in a different manner, if they were popular and she replied back with “I think so, they just aren’t my favorite”. Realizing she wouldn’t be very helpful at all, I ended up choosing a cup of the Chicken & Sausage Gumbo ($4) and bowl of Cajun Jambalaya ($10).
The portions for the entrees are huge. Both Jonathan & Matt’s Po’Boys were about a man’s forearm length long and my so called “bowl” of jambalaya arrived on a large platter. The Cajun Jambalaya is described as smoked sausage, pork butt, and andouille sausage cooked with white rice, spices, and peppers, onions and celery with a side of buttered & toasted French bread. The jambalaya was a bit moist, as if it had too much stock added to it. I found that the most dominant and abundant meat was the pork butt. Despite being cooked with smoked & andouille sausages, I didn’t taste any sausage whatsoever and that was a little disappointing to me. Don’t get me wrong though, despite it being “pulled pork jambalaya”, it was still delicious. However it wasn’t my favorite because I really do like andouille sausage in my Cajun/Creole food.
Probably the best dish for lunch was the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo but it too had a fault. Like my Cajun Jambalaya, I barely found any of the advertised smoked or andouille sausages, yet it had plenty of meaty chicken. The roux was very dark and flavorful with seasonings without any “burned” flavor, which is the kind I prefer. A nice touch is that Cajun Invasion serves you your rice separate from the gumbo itself. So you can make your own proportions of rice to gumbo.
Overall, I enjoyed Cajun Invasion. I believe that their waiting staff needs some work but the food is good enough for me to return. Although I’m disappointed in the fact that they didn’t serve crawfish, what impressed me was the portions of food. Very rarely do I eat a lunch that is so large, that I actually have to skip dinner. That lunch lasted me until breakfast Saturday morning. Cajun Invasion is a restaurant that serves good Cajun/Creole food at a decent price.
1109 Davenport Blvd
Franklin, TN 37069
Bill Total: $77.57 w/ Tax for Four