Whether it be a night out on the town or a midday stroll, there is always a festive air about Downtown Fullerton. One of the anchor restaurants of the area, Bourbon Street, takes that essence of joie de vivre even further. With all its nuances of the French Quarter — the iconic lamp posts, a lively Dixieland band, the strands upon strands of celebratory Mardi Gras beads festooned at the bar — it’s a dining experience with an Old World charm decidedly reminiscent of the famous thoroughfare it was named after.

Since their inception a mere five years ago, owners Larry Houser and John Skehan have been continuously improving upon their Louisiana-inspired meals. Having honed in on their clientele, they dashed the boring pub grub in favor of that more in keeping with today’s innovative taste profiles. Custom designed by Chef Cody Storts — whose most recent stints include the trend-setting Taco Asylum and the Food Network-famous Lime Truck — their new menu showcases a fusion cuisine dubbed as California Cajun.

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What exactly is California Cajun cuisine?

While there were those in the 70s with their feathered hair doing The Hustle in their vertigo-inducing platform shoes, Alice Waters (of the world renowned Chez Panisse in Berkeley) was keeping closer to the ground, establishing the food movement that would ultimately define California cuisine. Characterized with the freshest of vegetables, fruits and herbs; an abundance of locally caught seafood; and influenced by cooking styles from around the world, it takes advantage of our agriculturally rich and coastal location.

Cajun cuisine, on the other hand, relies heavily on the preparation of meats and fish. Very popular methods in Cajun cuisine are grilling, smoking and deep-frying. Although implementing quite an array of peppers and spices, the idea is to enjoy these enhancements, but not to singe your palate in the process.

Bourbon Street describes California Cajun Cuisine as marked by humble preparation and colorful presentation, utilizing ripe citrus and rustic herbs. Working closely with Melissa’s Produce, currently the largest distributor of specialty and exotic produce in the United States, Chef Cody updates the Acadian classics and creates culinary wonders that are both pleasure-inducing and generally good for you.

With so many new signature additions at Bourbon Street, beginning your meal with Bread and Spread is as good a choice as any. The name couldn’t be any more plain and innocuous, but this starter trio does a surprisingly stellar job of tantalizing the palate. The Cannellini is a mild, Tuscan cousin of the now ubiquitous Middle Eastern hummus. With the addition of the Chimichurri, the brightness of the chopped cilantro blend awakens your already primed taste buds. The Tapenade beams with crushed, roasted veggies and crumbled feta, seasoned with layers of heat and sets the stage for the courses to follow.

Typically, something as mundane as a salad never passes muster as anything of note. The Citrus Wedge, however, is definitely worth writing home about: the crisp coolness of the romaine spears; the summery notes of the light, lemony vinaigrette; the creaminess of the tree-ripened avocados; and the tender capers, buds bursting with wee pockets of brininess. Plus, the delightful thing about this is that you can pick up a segment and eat it like a taco. No fork required.

Even the most finicky of diners won’t be able to resist the moist and tender Blackened Sole — cooked perfectly so that it yields with barely a nudge. It arrives on a bed of “dirty” rice with bright, seasonal vegetables; a classic Cajun combination so good that you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life. The sweetness of the mild fish, its natural sugars slightly caramelized, and the dry rub of paprika, oregano and thyme lends a deep richness to this elegant platter. The “dirty” rice is absolutely authentic, fired off with the “holy trinity” (bell peppers, celery and onions) and combined with barely detectable chicken livers which give it its dark and distinctive flavor.

For burger lovers, the New Orleans is a creation of pornographic proportions. Imagine a hefty, broiled all-beef patty on a buttery, brioche bun. Drizzle that with a roasted garlic aioli; top with gorgonzola cheese, melted and gooey; pile with caramelized, balsamic-reduced onions; confetti with a mound of tangy, ginger slaw and you’ll be drooling unabashedly. Make sure to have a stack of napkins handy to clean up after yourself.

Don’t forgo the crowning glory that is the Bacon Bourbon Bread Pudding. We love the tongue-twisting alliteration, but adore its addictive ways even more. First of all, how can you go wrong with anything that incorporates bacon into a dish? Secondly, there’s bourbon in it. This custardy dessert is sinfully luscious without being mushy and is bedazzled with plump cranberry raisins and savory bacon bits.  A maple-infused magma, that is neither cloyingly sweet nor fly-paper sticky, is poured liberally over the generous portion. Hands down, it is the king of all bread puddings.

Naturally, at such an establishment as Bourbon Street, you can’t help but sample the many libations available. The Mint Julep, a southern classic, is comprised of Bulleit Kentucky Bourbon, muddled fresh mint, a pinch of sugar and finished off with soda water. The infamous Hurricane is synonymous with merriment in general and is a potent concoction of fruit juice, grenadine syrup and rum. On tap, refresh with brews like the Abita Amber and Abita Purple Haze, Shock Top or their “Manager’s Choice”. From their extensive roster and special reserve, indulge your more refined self with their slow barrel-aged whiskies such as Rittenhouse Rye and Heaven Hill’s Larceny or 20-year aged Elijah Craig (named after the Baptist minister and distiller widely rumored to have invented bourbon).

Whiskey enthusiasts will be pleased to know that Bourbon Street will be hosting a pairing dinner in the next month celebrating the Kentucky-borne artisanal spirit. For this event, weekly specials and Sunday Brunch, make sure to check their site or Facebook page for more details.

Bourbon Street: From Pub Grub to Jazzed Up Cuisine!

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mon-thurs: 4pm-2am
fri-sat: 11am-2am
sun: 10am-2am
110 e. commonwealth avenue
714.626.0050
www.bourbonstreetfullerton.com
www.facebook.com/bourbonstreetDTF

photography: Maurine Herberich and Corky Nepomuceno


Corky Nepomuceno

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