Take a tasty trip to Charleston and New Orleans at Bayou Boys Fresh Gulf Shrimp

Mystery Diner • Jan 15, 2020 at 7:15 AM

It’s not often enough that the dine-around bunch and I get to have an evening out with our friends Pappa and Nonnie. The dine-around bunch and I decided to join them over at Bayou Boys Fresh Gulf Shrimp in Johnson City. Owner Julie Pichou, her cook Walter Holmes and the rest of her capable staff currently occupy the former Burlington building on McKinley Road. A purveyor of fresh seafood, Bayou Boys is a very good restaurant as well.

Bayou Boys has been open about seven weeks. As you enter, the seafood sales portion of the business is on the right, glass-doored coolers, iced-down display cases and all, including the cashier station. Opposite is the very busy open-plan kitchen, and straight ahead is the dining area with comfortable seating for 50 or thereabouts. The surrounding two levels of the building’s indoor suites and offices give the restaurant the charming atmosphere of a sidewalk café in New Orleans. Restrooms are nearby and easily accessible.

Julie’s Crab Cake appetizer: My dining partner and I invited Pappa and Nonnie to join us and our friends the Carnivore and the Dieter at a Bayou Boys’ table for six. Our server Angelica took our drinks orders and advised us on what specials were available for the evening. I ordered a Julie’s Crab Cake, a $4.99 delicacy to get the evening started. Bayou Boys crab cake had diced pimento, onion, garlic, back fin crab meat and breading to make a good-sized patty that is then fried until crispy and brown. While Bayou Boys’ crab cake was good, my dining partner said her crab cakes are way better, and who am I to argue that point?

Shrimp scampi: For her entree, my dining partner opted for the shrimp scampi ($11.99), large boiled shrimp scattered over a bed of linguine noodles and dressed in a garlic-laden Alfredo sauce, and sided with a garden salad. The linguine was properly al dente, the Alfredo sauce creamy, cheesy and redolent of garlic and the shrimp expertly cooked to a turn and enjoyed on every forkful.

Jambalaya & Boudin Balls: I wanted to see what Ms. Pichou and her kitchen could do with a couple of Creole standbys: Boudin balls (4 for $6.99) and jambalaya ($7.99). A creation of Ms. Barrett, her scratch-made Boudin balls contained ground pork shoulder and pork liver, hand-mixed with rice, veggies and spices, rolled in French bread crumbs and deep fried until crunchy and golden. As I shared the Boudin balls around the table, Angelica brought my jambalaya. In Bayou Boys’ jambalaya, you will find rice (of course), shrimp, chicken, andouille sausage, the Creole “trinity” of chopped green pepper, onion and celery, then chicken broth and seasonings, all cooked low and slow. Seeing the predatory looks from my tablemates, I gladly shared the delectable plateful.

Corn & crab bisque, red beans & rice: After some consultation with the Carnivore, the Dieter ordered a a cup of their red beans & rice ($4.99) along with a cup of Bayou Boys’ corn & crab bisque ($6.99). Bayou Boys’ version of red beans & rice includes andouille sausage slices, chicken, and shrimp, all simmered until tasty. The New Orleans classic corn & crab bisque was fresh corn, onions, shallots, celery and garlic cooked low and slow in a seafood stock with milk and lots of crabmeat. In a word: delicious.

Stuffed green pepper: Of late, the Carnivore has been expanding his knowledge of food groups that do not travel by hoof, trotter or claw. So, tonight my meat-eating friend chose the Bayou Boys’ daily special entree, a bell pepper stuffed with crabmeat and shrimp ($12.99) sided with Bayou Boys’ signature potato salad. His bell pepper was filled to overflowing with a shrimp and crabmeat stuffing that had cooked rice, onion, celery and Bayou Boys’ own spice mix, and topped with melted cheese. Tasting it, I found that, while both the stuffed pepper and the potato salad were good individually, neither complemented the other.

Shrimp po’ boy: Nonnie chose a Bayou Boys’ 6-inch shrimp po’boy ($8.99), getting six shrimp breaded and fried, then laid on a half baguette of French bread and dressed with lettuce, tomato, dill pickle, mayonnaise and some of Bayou Boys own remoulade. Nonnie’s po-boy was delicious, her baguette’s excellent nuttiness forming the foundation with the remoulade bringing all its separate elements together.

Shrimp, sausage & chicken gumbo/boiled shrimp platter: For starters, Pappa ordered an 8-ounce cup of Bayou Boys’ “shrimp, sausage & chicken gumbo” ($5.99) and the “Boiled Shrimp Platter ($18.99) as his entree. Pappa was very pleased with the gumbo, savoring its dark spicy stock, andouille sausage, chicken and shrimp. His shrimp platter entrée showcased 12 very large, whole shrimp with small russet potatoes, andouille sausage, and some sweet corn. Afterward, though the Bayou Boys’ dessert of Bananas Foster ($7.99) beckoned to Pappa for dessert he was too full of gumbo and shrimp. That’s OK, he’d have Bananas Foster on his next trip.

The bottom line: Bayou Boys Fresh Gulf Shrimp is a seafood store and a restaurant. The menu can change depending on their daily “catch.” I’d check their Facebook page to determine what’s available, and reserve a time and table. Though Bayou Boys has experienced the usual growing pains associated with any new business, owner Julie Pichou and her team are hard at work serving a daily-changeable menu of delicious fish and seafood dishes inspired by Creole, Cajun and Low Country cuisine.

What’s coming next at Bayou Boys Fresh Gulf Shrimp?

Crawfish? Soft shell crabs? I’ll be there. So should you.

Bayou Boys Fresh Gulf Shrimp

2203 McKinley Road

Johnson City


Wed-Sat 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Sun 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Available on Facebook

Reservations suggested

Credit cards accepted