7281 West Lake
Sammamish WA 98052
Cajun and Celtic, An Interesting Blend Indeed
By: Steve G
As we approached Celtic Bayou, we saw that the sign proclaimed "Irish pub and Cajun cafe". We were intrigued by this unique blend of food genres, so we decided to check it out. Styled as an Irish pub, Celtic Bayou features characterful creaking hardwood floors and old-fashioned doors that lead into the main dining area. When we looked up, we saw a large chalkboard above the entrance to the pub area of the restaurant listing the specials of the day. The waitress friendlily and casually suggested that we grab a seat wherever we pleased, so we headed to a booth. And in a nod to the two distinct styles of food, Celtic Bayou has opted to showcase two distinct layouts with a restaurant near the entry and a bar beyond it.
The front area of the restaurant features eight booths outfitted with thick wooden tables that are intended for diners, while the back part of the restaurant is more like an Irish pub. The pub area has a long bar with plenty of wooden-back stools with several televisions placed about for sports enthusiasts and a number of smaller tables and booths scattered along the walls. During the time we were there, they were playing European soccer matches and a small handful of people had tuned in to watch the game.
Celtic Bayou offers a variety of both Irish-inspired and Cajun-themed dishes. The types of foods served range from Jambalaya and Gumbo to Bangers and Mash, and Corned Beef and Cabbage. The intriguing mix of food on the menu makes Celtic Bayou especially unique. If you're not in the mood for specialty entree dishes, they also have a variety of burgers and sandwiches, all Irish or Cajun influenced, of course.
Grant ordered the Jambalaya ($13.95) and found that it had a good balance of chicken and vegetables swimming in a hearty broth. The rice was a little bit soggy, but that was probably from being immersed in the soup for so long. The Jambalaya was a bit tame on the spices, which could have been ramped up a bit. The sausage tasted heavily processed rather than fresh, but aside from that the Jambalaya was great. It also came with a side of black bean salad and a fresh-baked corn muffin, completing a very hearty meal, which resulted in a large amount of leftovers.
The Pan Fried Catfish ($13.95) was served with a side of garlic mashed potatoes. The catfish was a breaded fillet, so don't worry about running into any bones. The first bite revealed that fish was very tender and cooked perfectly. The cornmeal breading used to coat the fish was fantastic and had a light texture that wasn't too heavy. The entree came with a cup of tartar sauce and some hush puppies. In case you are wondering, a hush puppy is a fried cornmeal nugget- just imagine a tater-tot but just substitute the potatoes with corn meal. They were freshly made and tasted great with the only real gripe being that the dish only came with three; Grant and I definitely were left yearning for more. Maybe it's like a drug, you get a small taste, but Celtic Bayou gets you on the comeback when you order it as a full-on appetizer. While the portions of the entree seemed a tad bit small, the quality and flavors were noteworthy.
Celtic Bayou also offers a variety of beers which really define it as an Irish Pub. There is a wide selection of Northwest brews like Maritime Imperial and Lazy Boy Pilsner as well as special import brews like Guinness and Strongbow Cider on tap. Domestic beers are also available for those that want to support the U.S., but only in bottle form.
Celtic Bayou also occasionally throws special events with live music, as well as trivia nights on Monday. On the weekends, the Celtic Bayou goes deeply Cajun with special crawfish boils between 12pm-4pm where they offer spicy crawfish, potatoes, and Andoullie sausage. I haven't tried the crawfish here, but if like me you're a big fan of crawfish, it is worth keeping it in mind.
Celtic Bayou received two eights on the scale for food, as both dishes were made very well and tasted great. It's hard to find good Cajun food on the Eastside, and this place fulfills that craving. There were a few minor issues with the food, but regardless, the place still received a great score.
Overall, the service was pretty standard and the reviewers scored the service with one eight and one six. Grant positively noted that the waitress had them seated and served within about ten minutes. Refills were always quick and the restaurant was fairly clean. Steve rated the service with a six stating since the service was a little under par and it took too long to get the check. But, if you're in the mood for some hearty food at a place with a quirky twist, we recommend you check this place out.