Classic, that's what I kept saying to myself all night. This place is an icon in the Lafayette culinary scene, where Lafayette's "old money" comes to dine. In a lot of ways, stepping into Charley G's is like stepping back into time and that's not a bad thing.
The team behind Charley G's is awe inspiring in itself. There is the founder of the restaurant Charley Goodson, who happens to also be one of the founding fathers of the "Eat Lafayette Campaign", you have Marc Krampe as co-owner, the mastermind behind "Social" and then there is Charley G's Chef, Holly Goetting. She has won numerous awards and is one of two of the only female executive chefs in town. That's something I was quite proud to see at a Wine Dinner I went to there in March, a big female culinary team.
I made the mistake of thinking I could walk in on a Friday night without a reservation at 7pm, think again. This is the kind of place that you NEED to make a reservation. When you do, they will even ask if its a special occasion and do something nice for you. The wait was an hour, so I made a reservation for 8:30. Luckily a table cancelled, so my hour wait only turned into 15 minutes.
The dining area is dark and intimate. I loved the open kitchen and the stepping back in time feel of the place. There was a piano player playing to add to the ambiance. If you want to impress someone on a first date take them here because I couldn't stop looking around in amazement.
The summer menu is what brought me in this week after wanting almost EVERYTHING on it. Lots of seafood and for you meat lovers out there they have a pretty impressive steak menu as well. I wasn't going to drink tonight but looking over the drink menu changed my mind. They have your classic cocktails and signature cocktails/martinis, pretty much anything you could want they have. Being as I was in a throwback mood, I went with a French 75. They shake and pour the drink at your table adding to the "theater of dining" experience that they pride themselves on. The appetizer that we decided on was a little disappointing, but the only disappointment of the evening. I ordered the seafood tower and in my head(and when I was excitedly talking about it all week) I envisioned a giant seafood tower with shrimp and crab on it that I've never seen on a Lafayette menu before. What I got was a tiny stack of shrimp, crab meat and avocados with wonton chips. It didn't taste bad but when you were expecting a tower this fell short of that. Had I known, we would have went for the escargot instead. Lesson learned.
Next up were the entrees. I got the Southern surf and turf. When I saw pork belly it was a no brainer this was a very "me" dish. It did not disappoint. Nice chunk of pork belly, the pickled radishes on top did a nice job of cutting the saltiness of the pork belly. The abita BBQ shrimp were huge and yummy and the cornbread cake underneath had me moaning. This dish knocked it out of the park for me. My dining companion got the special of the day, red fish with a veggie tower and cauliflower puree. This dish was very low carb and light tasting. I love red fish and it was grilled well. The veggie tower was AMAZING. I can't stand the taste of red peppers...till I had this dish. WOW so nicely done. The plates looked like works of art. Making room for dessert wasn't hard considering I wanted to try the new pastry chef's creations. I opted for the espresso crème Brule with blood oranges. I gobbled it up, very delicious and not overly heavy.
Charley G's is a place everyone in Lafayette should go to at least once. The service and food is impeccable and even though it's fine dining, it's not uptight and stuffy but rather warm and welcoming. For two drinks, appetizer, two entrees and a dessert my bill came in at 98 bucks. I definitely could not afford to eat there all the time but I think this is a great special occasion kind of place. Maybe try it out seasonally when the menu changes. They also do a great monthly wine dinner that cannot be missed.