East Idaho Eats: B.J.’s Bayou, east Idaho’s home for Louisiana fare
BLACKFOOT — Frog legs. Alligator. Crawfish. B.J. Berlin has brought flavors famously tied to his New Orleans birthplace to his adopted home in Idaho.
Berlin owns B.J.’s Bayou, a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Roberts, as well as a food truck of the same name that has attended the Eastern Idaho State Fair for more than 10 years.
While he was born in New Orleans, and holds memories of hunting and fishing in the bayou’s of Louisiana, he has lived in Idaho for more than 40 years — and he has been cooking since before he and his family made the move to the Gem State, bringing his southern flavors west.
“Great Louisiana food is what(ever) you’ve got with lots of seasonings, not necessarily fiery hot but definitely seasoned,” Berlin explained. “Lots of flavor, and lots of love in it.”
Berlin, the former mayor of Roberts, has owned B.J.’s Bayou for 25 years, sharing that well-seasoned love with east Idaho.
During our visit to his fair location, Berlin shared his most commonly ordered dish, crawfish, as well as shrimp and sausage jambalaya. But he also said he couldn’t let us leave without trying some deep fried alligator.
The alligator was incredible, with the meat nestled somewhere in the center of that equilateral triangle of fry cooking — with equal parts tender, juicy and crunchy. The seasoning was spot on, playing well with Berlin’s homemade cocktail sauce.
The jambalaya, which Berlin recommended for anyone on the go, is pre-made, allowing it to simmer and soak up all the excellent flavor. Large chunks of andouille sausage and shrimp benefit from this process. Berlin also offered a tutorial in the proper southern technique of eating crawfish, which included sucking the oils and juices from the head.
As the fair nears conclusion, so too does B.J.’s Bayou’s presence in Blackfoot. Anyone with a craving for Louisiana-style cooking — including Crescent City Shrimp, frog legs or classic southern fried chicken — can sample Berlin’s cooking in Roberts.
The brick-and-mortar B.J.’s Bayou restaurant is located at 655 North 2880 East, across the street from Hotel Patrie. You can also follow the food truck, as it travels around town on Facebook (here).
“(The schedule for) everything we do is (available) on our Facebook page, including great events in Roberts,” Berlin said. “We have live music events, and shows and things out at the restaurant — usually all related to the bayou realm of things.”