The newly opened Wentzel’s Seafood in Biloxi offers an interesting combination — sharp and friendly service and food with a Cajun snap to it.
Add to those qualities a decor with hardwood floors, a bright-red ventilation system, sharp contemporary furniture and a jazzy sound system and you have a place that can best be described as fun.
One of Wentzel’s secret weapons is chef Shayne Varone. Not only is he a Culinary Institute of America (NYC) grad, he worked at Vrazel’s in Gulfport for almost six years and knows his way around French, Northern Italian and Cajun cuisines.
Everything that comes out of Varone’s kitchen is made from scratch, whether it is the good bread pudding with rum sauce ($8) or the stunningly good roast beef po-boy (lunch $10).
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Owner Henry Wentzel said he saw an opportunity to carry on his brother’s dream of a good Cajun place on the Coast, and he’s done his homework.
The menu is where it should be — not too big, not petite. As with most good places, a good meal can be had with a selection of appetizers. Standouts include NOLA beer-battered onion rings ($7), crab cakes with a jazzed-up cucumber remoulade sauce ($10) and, my choice, fried green tomatoes covered with a andouille sausage veloute sauce that is loaded with crawfish and shrimp ($10).
Jump to the entrees and there are a lot from which to choose, such as crab meat au gratin ($15) and soft shell crabs with lemon butter ($27), but I went for the Nawlins-style roast beef po-boy ($10 on the lunch menu) and found it delightful.
Varone sears a beef roast a deep brown, then finishes it in the oven and makes the gravy from the debris.
The gravy is rich and thick, the bread crunchy and fresh, and the roast beef is tender and delicious.
There also are five kinds of grilled oysters from which to choose (all $10 for half and $18 for a full dozen) that include NOLA barbecue-style; Rockefeller; Bienville (crab, shrimp in a cream sauce); charbroiled Wentzel-style; and, my favorite, Oysters Remick.
These babies are made with horseradish chili mayonnaise with Swiss cheese and crumbled bacon. Raw oysters on the half shell also are available.
Wentzel said he wanted to “bring a trendy Cajun place to the Coast,” and he has succeeded.
Where: 1906 Beach Blvd., Biloxi
When: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.