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I have been a fan of Bonnie Bell’s Bistro www.bonniebells.com, since they first opened over 10 years ago in the building which now serves as a home to The Saints Street Inn.  They are now located in Downtown Lafayette on Jefferson Street. I can remember during water aerobics at Lourdes Health Center (yes, I did water aerobics…actually loved it and really miss my “classmates” since being a dropout!) as we were going through our exercises, we would start talking about – food…that is when I first heard about the infamous Bonnie Bell’s Crab Cakes!  Paddling around on a noodle, in the pool, talking about crab cakes…yes, I do miss this class!

Now, I have to confess, it has been a while since my last visit to Bonnie Bell’s, but something drew me back this week for lunch – A little “deja vu” moment and I was there!  And boy, was I thrilled to return…

Started with an old favorite: Tri-Colored Chips With Avocado & Tomato Salsa…Lightly fried sun-dried tomato, cheesy jalapeno and herb garlic tortillas that have just the right amount of crunchiness without being hard or dry – to dip in the creamy, bright  and “not too hot” avacado & tomato salsa.  Love it every time!

As an appetizer, we just had to have crab cakes…This incredibly beautiful dish is called Bistro Crab Pearls! Small luscious bundles of joy – crab cakes perched on a little nest of fresh sautéed spinach…They first win you over with the inventive artistic presentation – but then when the flavors hit your palate with its rich creaminess and slight crunch when you bite into these little treasures, your knees get weak! The contrast between the sweet bechamel sauce in the crab cake and the savory sautéed spinach was divine…Sinply delicious!

This is what the inside of that precious little “pearl” looks like…

The Smoked Chile’ Fried Shrimp Sandwich was my choice for the entree’…Oh my gosh!  Lightly fried Jumbo Gulf Shrimp dressed with ripe avocado & tomato with crispy fresh shredded romaine lettuce, with a softly smoked chile’ mayo – all sitting beautifully on a perfectly toasted Italian Focaccia flatbread!  Well, it was to die for…

My dining pal opted for the Shrimp Flatbread Pizza…sounds simple, right? Nothing simple about this unique twist on “pizza”! The fresh flatbread is topped with melted provolone cheese and smoked Chile’ sauce, then huge grilled shrimp are stacked on top of robust creole tomatoes, roasted purple onions and  green peppers.  If that is not enough, this dish is presented on a beautiful rustic wooden board…fabulous!

Just look what came out of the kitchen:

Dessert?  I will blame this one on my 7 month pregnant dining buddy… (Although, I never can finish a meal without something sweet!)  Banana Foster’s Bread Pudding!

This is Bonnie Bell’s freshly made bread pudding with strips of ripe bananas running throughout each piece, then topped with a warm light rum cream sauce…If you love Bananas Foster, you will love this…

As we were being served, I kept asking to meet the “artist” in the kitchen…this was one of the most beautiful meals that I have had in a while.  Every dish was so well thought out, artistic and delicious! This is what I call “Food That Works”….Can’t wait to take another trip back to Bonnie Bell’s Bistro – or maybe I should re-think that Water Aerobics Class!

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