The food consumed by people in our modern society is sometimes less than nutritious. We consume what
There’s a fire on Bendel. Don’t worry, Chef Manny Augello of Bread & Circus Provisions has it completely under control. Augello hails from Sicily and grew up in South Louisiana, so his upbringing tends to flavor his work. He is the Chef and Owner of Bread & Circus Provisions in Lafayette, a restaurant with a unique vibe and a cuisine that’s both traditional and innovative, centered around a gorgeous, copper clad Italian wood-fired oven with the moniker Big Bad Ben.
Manny says that Bread & Circus focuses on Neapolitan Pizza and wood-fired Southern Italian cuisine, but he began with a narrower scope. He first established Bread & Circus as a booth at the local farmer’s market, selling cured meats, pickles and condiments in addition to specialty items such as sandwiches, the goal is to deliver food grown and raised locally that lacks the preservatives and additives routinely found in packaged foods.
When his products sold at the farmer’s market were well received, and the community began pleading for more, Bread & Circus opened six months later at 258 Bendel Road, near the corner of Bendel and Pinhook roads. The menu featured amazing smoked meat sandwiches, handmade pasta dishes, and all manner of culinary playfulness. A little over two years later, Manny felt it was time for a change.
“Adding the wood-fired oven took us in a direction we were always meant to go,” Manny says, adding that he can introduce more traditional Italian fare as they go along. It was a natural change for him: “The further we go, the deeper we get into our roots.”
Neapolitan Pizza is pizza with a capital “P.” There are rules. Manny follows them, and the results are extraordinary. This is not chain delivery pizza. The rules are born of tradition, and those traditions are a big part of Bread & Circus today. Manny has been turning out amazing pizza and other foods for a while now and has a James Beard Award Semifinalist nomination to show for it.
The most popular Pizzas are the Margherita (a classic staple; the Original Pizza) topped only with red sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves, and the Bee Sting, a creation of Manny’s that’s both sweet and spicy with garlic and peperoncino marinara, soppressata salami, mozzarella, and local honey. A portion of Bee Sting profits even benefits the work of the Acadiana Beekeepers Association.
The hummus dish is also very popular, featuring a Tunisian red pepper sauce, kalamata olives, and a giant feta rubbed Schiaccia, a flatbread baked a la minute for each order. Manny says his Sous Chef Chanel Gaudé has also stepped up the menu at Bread & Circus with her house-cured meats program. “Our salumi game is on fire!” he said.
A relatively new tweak to the menu locks in the traditional favorites, so they are always available while allowing the rest of the menu to morph with seasonal availability and chefs’ whims. Manny has been pleasantly surprised by the success of his rotating fresh preparations of sides and small plates, or Contorni.
There are great beverage options in the form of imported Italian sodas and spring waters as well as delicious cocktails and a concise yet diverse wine list. Bread & Circus takes a proactive approach to a typical problem encountered by restaurants serving wines by the glass. It’s often a crapshoot whether or not all of a given bottle will be sold before it’s been open too long. The staff identifies these wines and offers them at the discounted price of $7, making everyone a winner. They also serve a house red by the glass for $5 and have recently been offering it trattoria style in the form of half bottle and whole bottle specials for $12 and $24 respectively.
Each Wednesday through Saturday from 4:00 to 6:00 PM is happy hour. Dine-in parties can get half off the price of pizzas during this time. Wednesdays, in particular, are even better because this discount is offered all night long.
During the EatLafayette campaign, diners have several options for specials at Bread & Circus. During lunch, customers can select from the three by-the-slice pizzas at a discounted price of $1 per slice (Be aware: the slices are huge.). During dinner service, guests purchasing an entree can get a free split (187 mL) of prosecco. For the Saturday brunch shift, the special is a free order of Frappe, Italian style beignets with lavender infused honey.
Bread & Circus Provisions is located at 258 Bendel Road in Lafayette. They are open every Tuesday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for lunch, every Wednesday through Saturday from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. for dinner, every Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for brunch, and on Saturdays, beginning at 10:00 p.m. there is a special menu that changes every week and goes on until late into the night.
You may make the reasonable assumption that Wing Fingers, a restaurant, and bar serving, most notably, chicken wings, is just ordinary. You would be wrong. The eatery on Johnston Street near the UL campus is anything but ordinary.
The restaurant started as a food truck when owners John Hackney and Taylor Cooper were hanging out building a fire pit. John remembers saying how he wanted more than his current job, but it took Taylor to convince him they could make it happen.
The pair teamed up to serve boneless chicken wings in a new way. There are signature sauces for the wings, and each portion comes atop a base dish of your choosing with garnishes tailored to transform ordinary chicken wings from appetizer into craft entree. Wing Fingers has expanded their offerings in the brick-and-mortar space to include bone-in wings, burgers, chicken sandwiches, and a full bar as well.
Those wing dishes, boneless or traditional, are offered with seven sauce or dry rub options with garnishes to match. These include the Strange City: honey mustard-habanero sauced wings with roasted red pepper coulis and pickled mustard seeds; the Strawbanero: strawberry-habanero sauced wings with fresh strawberries and strawberry gastrique; Buffalo: the classic reimagined with pickled celery ribbons and gorgonzola mousse; and Lemon Pepper Dry Rubbed wings with lemon zest. Once you choose your wings, you’ll decide what to have them served on. You have options like fries, pepper jack mac and cheese, and slaw.
The burgers and chicken sandwiches, each served on honey butter brioche, involve options as well. Once you decide between the beef patty or the fried chicken, you have topping options like the Basic B: house-made mayo, lettuce, and tomato; the Bad B: habanero honey mustard, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, and roasted red pepper coulis; and the Pepper Jelly B: pepper jelly, slaw, sweet peppers, and pepper jack cheese.
The menu also features a full complement of appetizers like fried pickles, pepper jack cheese sticks, fried jalapeños, and the Loaded Team Porch Fries topped with a honey garlic dry rub, pepper jack cheese sauce, pepper bacon bits, fried jalapeños, and an egg.
The team at Wing Fingers has pushed limits of what a chicken wing place can be, just as they set out to do. As John puts it, “If you’re looking for something basic, we only have a few options for you.” He says that the Strawbanero is everyone’s go-to choice, but his favorite is the Bad B style chicken sandwich.
He describes the vibe as “youthful, vibrant, and memorable,” and it really works. The bar carries several Louisiana craft beers, and there is a large stage for live music. There are events and specials every Friday and Saturday when the restaurant is open late.
Wing Fingers is open at 1043 Johnston Street every Sunday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and every Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Pamplona is a classic. It has been since it opened in December of 2007. Combining rustic decor, a beautiful downtown setting, delicious and interesting food, and a stellar wine and cocktail program, Pamplona has been at the forefront of dining experiences in Lafayette for years.
General Manager Andrew Payne, who began his time at Pamplona behind the bar, heads a team, with Kris Allen helming the kitchen, that crafts an exquisite guest experience. Andrew describes the restaurant’s concept as Spanish with an emphasis on tapas-style dining. He says, “It was conceived by looking at the local landscape of restaurants and doing something that wasn’t being done yet.”
From those beginnings, the Pamplona concept has also recognized that Spanish food and culture has a local influence that is often overshadowed by the French. Andrew says that Pamplona also includes some other Mediterranean influences with some local flair, which can be seen throughout the restaurant’s offerings and encompasses a well-honed concept that he describes as romantic, adventurous, and passionate.
The food program is eclectic yet familiar and approachable, and diners have every opportunity to experience a large variety of flavors. For those unfamiliar to tapas style dining, this is where the adventure comes in. A typical meal can encompass many shareable dishes granting the diner a chance to experience a large number of delicious items.
Some of these “Small Plates” include Garlic Shrimp, Hanger Steak, Lamb Sliders, Sweetbreads, Foie Gras, and Mussels, each expertly prepared with thoughtful accompaniments. Though elegant, much of the food is of a humble nature (they’ve got some of the best French Fries you’ll ever taste), with butter, herbs, and old-world flourishes taking center stage. The tapas, both hot and cold varieties, consist of nods to classic Spanish dishes (Morcilla and Bacon Wrapped Dates) and beautifully on-theme creations such as Crawfish Croquettes and Ceviche. Andrew says his favorite dish is the Seared Tuna.
Rounding out the menu are ample selections of soups and salads such as the Arugula and Manchego Salad and Beef Carpaccio, as well as full-size entrees including steaks and seafood. There are also several dessert options prepared in-house.
There are also two options seldom found in a restaurant setting in Lafayette: The house specialties of Paella Velenciana and Cochinillo Asado are true showstoppers. The Paella is authentic with all of the traditional inclusions. It’s well worth the 45 minutes to 1 hour that it takes to prepare. The Cochinillo is a roast suckling pig cooked in the traditional style. Call at least 24 hours ahead to request this item.
Pamplona is also an excellent destination for its beverage options alone. They offer 14 by-the-glass wine selections each dispensed from a cellar system that ensures quality throughout the bottle. A full bottle list and many beer selections are also available. This is only the beginning, however as no less than ten selections are listed on their Absinthe menu, and they offer flights of those made in France and the US. The true gems of Pamplona’s beverage program, however, are the craft cocktail program, focusing on pre-prohibition classics as well as new and clever creations, and of course, their legendary Sangria prepared fresh daily. Your kitchen cabinet may already contain the red cup evidence of a Festival International indulgence in this delicious concoction of fruit and wine.
From 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Pamplona offers the following specials:
25% off Tapas
$1 off Beer
$3 House Wine and Sangria
$4 Well Cocktails
The drink specials continue all night on Wednesdays.
Pamplona is open at 631 Jefferson St. in downtown Lafayette every Tuesday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., every Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and every Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Pamplona is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Heading Southwest on Johnston Street, Lafayette diners will find fewer locally owned and operated restaurants traveling the less densely populated areas on their way toward Maurice. But near the intersection of West Broussard is a gem of a bakery and coffee shop owned by Chuck Nguyen, his sister Hahn, and his brother-in-law Rainer. Zuhause Bakery & Coffee, opened in August of 2017, sits in a clean and elegant building with open and inviting dining spaces inside offering full-service coffee beverages and pastries of an Old World style and quality seldom encountered anywhere in Acadiana. Hahn describes the food menu as, “a unique mix of European, Asian, and American pastries and other dishes.”
The pastries are specially made with exacting technical skill. They are beautiful to look at in their large glass display cases near the order counter, and each is utterly delicious. Though there is all manner of confections on display from elegantly simple Palmiers and other cookies to elaborate cakes and tarts, Hahn says the homemade custards have become the star of the show, and there are plenty of varieties. The custards make appearances in the Fruit Danish, the Custard Sammie, and the Custard Danish.
The coffee menu is exhaustive but not overwhelming. All of the traditional espresso-based drinks like Cappuccinos and Lattes are available, as well as pour overs, cold brew, and regular drip coffee. Several milk alternatives are available as well. The bean selections are from artisanal roasters like Cuvee in Austin, TX, and Congregation in New Orleans. Zuhause also offers a wide variety of teas for those who prefer them, and the Asian influences Hahn referred to show up in the form of Vietnamese Iced Coffee, a refreshingly delicious drink brewed a la minute with sweetened condensed milk. Zuhause even offers 5% off drinks for those bringing their cup.
In addition to great pastries and quality coffee, Zuhause offers more standard lunch fare as well. There are meat pies, savory puff tarts, and quiches as well as a rotating selection of soups. The artisanally crafted breads are delicious and beautiful. Some serve as the foundation for the Shrimp Poboy and the Vietnamese classic Banh Mi, which despite its seemingly odd placement at an Old World bakery has become the most popular lunch item at Zuhause. For dessert, try a slice of German Chocolate Cake or one (or four) of the many rotating flavors of Gelato. Pro tip: go with the Affogato, a scoop of Gelato topped with Espresso or a Gelato Float.
Zuhause Bakery & Coffee is open at 6774 Johnston Street in Lafayette every Tuesday through Thursday from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., every Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., every Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and every Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Mondays.