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Cajun Connection - Utica, IL. - The Truth

Cajun Connection - Utica, IL. - The Truth
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  • Post #31 - July 13th, 2008, 8:52 am
    Post #31 - July 13th, 2008, 8:52 am Post #31 - July 13th, 2008, 8:52 am
    Forgot to mention that after being led on an hour-long goose chase from Chicago (via Peru, no less,) by our GPS - we finally got to Cajun Connection and had a very nice lunch: I had an all-appetizer meal including both kinds of boudin balls, a link of "mild" boudin, crawfish etouffe (more than enough for lunch at the appetizer size) and pecan pie. The 'spouse had an oyster po'boy, which was a good representation - though we thought afterwards that there were better options on the menu (although he enjoyed experimenting with the selection of 3 hot sauces on the table) My friend got a cajun combo of fried alligator and lovely, large shrimp with a side of jambalaya - all good, and the kids had the "popcorn shrimp" which were a large basket of what were probably 41/50s, the largest I've seen referred to as "popcorn." The kids really enjoyed all the alligator-themed decor and the little gator in the fish-tank. Fried is done very well here.

    The boudin really reminded me of Goetta in my hometown, except a bit less offal-y than I'd expected - but a nice mix of rice, meat, and seasonings - I was so stuffed we took most of my link to the campsite and fried it up for breakfast, which was excellent. The "mild" is a bit on the bland side; it really needs the spicy kick (which probably would barely register for most LTHers, as it was fine with me.) I really, really enjoyed the etouffe - a rich, creamy sauce redolent with the Trinity and quite a bit of sweet crawfish meat. Portion sizes are staggering, even for appetizers - go after you've been hiking all day, and you might have enough stomach for one of their dinners :D !

    All good, definitely head that way if you're in the vicinity on a Wednesday-Sunday!
  • Post #32 - July 13th, 2008, 3:16 pm
    Post #32 - July 13th, 2008, 3:16 pm Post #32 - July 13th, 2008, 3:16 pm
    jimswside wrote:I feel bad for anyone who loves crawfish, or cajun cuisine, who missed out on the latest crawfish boil.



    Well at least some one feels my pain. Are any more coming up or is it just spontaneous based on market supply?
  • Post #33 - July 14th, 2008, 6:17 am
    Post #33 - July 14th, 2008, 6:17 am Post #33 - July 14th, 2008, 6:17 am
    T Comp wrote:
    jimswside wrote:I feel bad for anyone who loves crawfish, or cajun cuisine, who missed out on the latest crawfish boil.



    Well at least some one feels my pain. Are any more coming up or is it just spontaneous based on market supply?


    I believe it is based on when they are in season/market supply. Ron was mentioning that he only goes down to Louisiana to pick up crawfish for a boil when he gets the call from his supplier. He said he told the guy to call only when he has "big ones" available. I check in at Rons website alot, and I tried to inform other LTHr's on the events board of this most recent crawfish boil. I didnt post on the events page until Wednesday, or Thursday of last week. Kind of short notice.

    I know Ron is doing a Mardi Gras in July on the weekeond of July 25th & 26th. I am not sure of the menu but it will be good.
  • Post #34 - July 26th, 2008, 8:56 pm
    Post #34 - July 26th, 2008, 8:56 pm Post #34 - July 26th, 2008, 8:56 pm
    After reading Jim's post about the crawfish boil, I told my husband that we had to try Cajun Connection. Tonight was the night. I warned him that they opened at 4:00 and that it would be a long wait if we weren't there when the door opened, because they were having a "Mardi Gras in July" party. I think he thought I was kidding. We left for the restaurant a little after 4:00 and even though it was 5:15 when we arrived, there was a huge swarm of people waiting for tables. The tiny beer garden was jam packed with people ready to eat and have a good time. Some smarter people brought their own lawn chairs so they could bide the time in comfort. I gave the hostess our name and asked how long we would have to wait. I was told a half hour to forty-five minutes, although the wait was more like an hour and a half. It was worth it -- the hour long drive and the interminable wait for a table were forgotten when the food arrived.

    When we were seated, we were asked if we would mind sharing a table with another couple so they could also seat a group of 3 at the table intended for us. The other couple were very congenial and it turned out they were hosting the band that was playing in the beer garden at their home in Dekalb for the weekend. They are regulars at Cajun Connection. After ordering a basket of 'gator bites, they invited us to "dig in". We did, and the deep fried 'gator was delicious. I opted for a combination plate with fried shrimp, fried oysters and jambalaya, while my husband ordered a cajun ribeye with crawfish etoufee. We both ordered gumbo instead of salad. The portions were enormous, and the food was wonderful. As noted in another post above, Ron knows his way around a fryer -- everything was cooked to perfection. We split a piece of warm pecan pie ala mode for dessert. The other couple was very nice and we are planning to meet them at Cajun Connection again in the near future because we had such a very nice time together.

    This restaurant was definitely worth the trip and I'm looking forward to going back again soon. I agree that this was the best cajun food I've ever had, anywhere.

    Suzy
    " There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."
    - Frank Zappa
  • Post #35 - July 27th, 2008, 5:55 am
    Post #35 - July 27th, 2008, 5:55 am Post #35 - July 27th, 2008, 5:55 am
    I am glad you enjoyed Cajun Connection Suzy. I may have to go for lunch today. :D
  • Post #36 - August 1st, 2008, 7:07 pm
    Post #36 - August 1st, 2008, 7:07 pm Post #36 - August 1st, 2008, 7:07 pm
    When the price of Gas drops below $3.50, I am definetly there
    Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage.
    Woody Allen
  • Post #37 - August 3rd, 2008, 6:46 am
    Post #37 - August 3rd, 2008, 6:46 am Post #37 - August 3rd, 2008, 6:46 am
    Marshall K wrote:When the price of Gas drops below $3.50, I am definetly there


    I can understand that, gas prices have limited my trips into Chicago to try new places lately.

    Consider filling up out here. gas is @ $3.81 right now. :)
  • Post #38 - September 19th, 2008, 9:58 am
    Post #38 - September 19th, 2008, 9:58 am Post #38 - September 19th, 2008, 9:58 am
    bumping this thread to make it easier to find for those who are curious of Cajun Connections merits, as I just nominated Cajun Connection as a GNR.

    Anyone interested in coming out for a meal @ Cajun Connection in the near future I would be glad to attend.
  • Post #39 - September 19th, 2008, 4:36 pm
    Post #39 - September 19th, 2008, 4:36 pm Post #39 - September 19th, 2008, 4:36 pm
    Thanks, Jim!
  • Post #40 - October 4th, 2008, 7:31 am
    Post #40 - October 4th, 2008, 7:31 am Post #40 - October 4th, 2008, 7:31 am
    jimswside wrote:Anyone interested in coming out for a meal @ Cajun Connection in the near future I would be glad to attend.


    I took jimswside up on his offer last Thursday. Cajun Connection is 110 miles from my NW side home*, and worth every mile of driving to get there. The restaurant is as described, small, homey and extremely friendly. Cajun Ron is a force of nature. He works both the room and his deep fryer with equal finesse! While other things are offered, the fried foods are really the shining star at Cajun Connection.

    We started off with the fried appetizer combo that has been described earlier. The basket of fried shrimp, crawfish, alligator, "spicy" boudin balls and fried corn was stellar, although serving frozen corn on the cob while sitting in a restaurant surrounded by corn fields struck me as a bit odd. The alligator was cooked to perfection. It is by far the best fried alligator I have ever had north of the Mason-Dixon line.

    Cajun Connection Fried Appetizer Combo
    Image

    Since there were four of us and the combo only came with two boudin balls, we ordered an additional side order of the spicy balls.

    Cajun Connection Boudin Balls
    Image

    The daily special was smoked brisket, which we were able to sample. Although it was cooked using an intriguing, decidedly backwoods-Cajun-Bayou method employing a bundt pan and a pie plate, it wasn't my cup of meat, so to speak, and something I don't recommend should it be on the menu when you visit (at least if you're expecting traditional Texas smoked brisket). For my main, I had a "pick two" platter with fried oysters and shrimp etoufee. All dinners are served with a cup of Cajun Ron's excellent gumbo (or a salad, if you must). I found the etoufee to have a sweet note at first taste, although very complex and made with a wonderful, well developed roux. The rice is cooked al dente. It was not at all mushy, as can often be the case with these types of stewy dishes.

    Cajun Connection Fried Oyster/Shrimp Etoufee Platter
    Image

    Also served at our table were combo platters of catfish and etoufee, shrimp, frog legs and etoufee and an oyster poboy.

    Cajun Connection Oyster Poboy
    Image

    For dessert I had a slice of their house made pecan pie, which is one of the better versions in the Midwest. It is served warm and is obviously very freshly baked.

    Cajun Connection Pecan Pie
    Image

    Cajun Connection is admittedly pretty far from the city for me to go on a regular basis, but for a weekend excursion to the Starved Rock area, Cajun Connection is a no brainer.

    * By way of taking 355 all the way to 80 to avoid construction on 55

    Edited to add the part about the brisket, which I forgot when originally posting
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #41 - October 5th, 2008, 5:44 pm
    Post #41 - October 5th, 2008, 5:44 pm Post #41 - October 5th, 2008, 5:44 pm
    stevez wrote:Cajun Ron is a force of nature. He works both the room and his deep fryer with equal finesse!

    Works the room is an understatement, Sirio Maccioni could take lessons from Ron, he took us in the kitchen to view alligator tails, brought out a photo album for another group to peruse, kissed babies, helped grandmothers from their chairs all the while exuding the happy mildly frenetic energy of 5 whisky sipping Uncle Boudreaux's foot stomping to Zydeco.

    Ron, owner Cajun Connection with Alligator Tail

    Image

    As Steve mentions Cajun Connection's fried alligator was terrific, tender, perfectly fried, good enough to (almost) make me forget an encounter with skewered marinated 'gator at a suburban Milwaukee restaurant back in the heyday of Cajun blacken every thing but the kitchen sink 80's. Fried shrimp, crawfish, boudin balls and fried corn rounded out the fried appetizer combo, perfectly fried, crisp and greaseless. The only fried item I was not enamored with were fried oysters, though I am not a fan of Gulf oysters often finding the texture mushy and flavor swampy

    Oyster Po Boy

    Image

    I liked pretty much everything I tried, gumbo, etouffee, frog legs, yes they tasted like chicken ;) and pecan pie. Speaking of pecan pie, the two most ardent lovers of pecan pie I know, Steve Z and Crrush, both heartily approve of Cajun Connection's, not to mention pretty much everyone who posts to the thread. CC has a table hot sauce made with Red Savina called VVFH, acronym meaning exactly what you think, that is so blisteringly hot a few drops started to close my throat. I bought a bottle to take home. :)

    Service is friendly, efficient and informed, our waitress Becky recognizing we were having an adventure as well as a meal.

    Gary, Becky, Jimswside

    Image

    Jimswside is a Cajun Connection regular, and I envy him proximity and offer my compliments for sharing this Cajun jewel with LTHForum.

    Ron, Jimswside

    Image

    Though fully sated we soldiered on to Rip's for terrific fried chicken and attempted to go to Lanuti's for fried turtle, though Lanuti's was closed.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #42 - October 6th, 2008, 10:15 am
    Post #42 - October 6th, 2008, 10:15 am Post #42 - October 6th, 2008, 10:15 am
    thanks for posting the pics G wiv, I had a blast with you guys, and am so glad you made the trek out to Ron's.
  • Post #43 - October 10th, 2008, 6:27 am
    Post #43 - October 10th, 2008, 6:27 am Post #43 - October 10th, 2008, 6:27 am
    took the family for dinner @ Cajun Connection last night, after debating between Monari's, Chinese buffet, and Ron's. Ron won, and I am glad we went. Had some boudin balls(I am hooked on these now), I ordered crawfish etouffe, and fried alligator, my wife had the special, shrimp pasta, bubba shrimp, and hush puppies. I wish I would have gotten what she did. My food was excellent as always but that shrimp pasta was top notch(angel hair pasta tossed in a scallop and crab sauce with shrimp). Chunks of lump crab amd scallops, and I ate half of hers. The hush puppies were also excellent. The gumbo was as good as usual, and a few Blue Moon beers, and I was set for a Thursday night.
  • Post #44 - October 20th, 2008, 9:52 am
    Post #44 - October 20th, 2008, 9:52 am Post #44 - October 20th, 2008, 9:52 am
    I was just there on Saturday. In addition to the usual yummy meal, we took hime a couple of orders of Pumpkin bread pudding. It was fantastic. Ron was very quick to point out he did not make it and the compliments belonged to Amy (?). It had a delcious sweet sauce over it and was moist and rich. Ron was his usual self, socializing around, cleaning tables, seating people and what was so funny, a gentleman at a table asked if he was the chef and he said no just the cook!
  • Post #45 - November 9th, 2008, 7:45 am
    Post #45 - November 9th, 2008, 7:45 am Post #45 - November 9th, 2008, 7:45 am
    We had a fun time @ Ron's last night presenting his GNR. Food was great as always. I will be posting the pics as soon as I can figure out how to do it.

    As a side note Ron is offering turducken's this year. a smaller bird(12-15 lbs), and a larger bird (22 lbs). We ordered one, and didnt even ask the price, If you order you can pick them up the day before Thanksgiving.
  • Post #46 - November 28th, 2008, 9:25 am
    Post #46 - November 28th, 2008, 9:25 am Post #46 - November 28th, 2008, 9:25 am
    Hats off to cajun Ron for my Thanksgiving Turducken, and the pecan pie he also gave us. Ron certainly knows what he is doing, and is a pleasure to do business with. He put a big smile on my face when I ate this flavorfull bird, the duck, the chicken, and the turkey were moist, and popping with flavor, and the stuffing was excellent.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/32314529@N08/3065150363/
  • Post #47 - December 28th, 2008, 6:31 pm
    Post #47 - December 28th, 2008, 6:31 pm Post #47 - December 28th, 2008, 6:31 pm
    It was the Mrs.'s birthday today, so on a gorgeous sunny Sunday we schlepped out to Utica for a late lunch with Ron at the Cajun Connection. I have been to all the Cajun places in Chicago, from Heaven on Seven, Mapletree, even the execrable Yats. Nothing comes close to the Cajun Connection. First place we've been outside Louisiana (well, there was a memorable place in Beaumont) that really reminds me of cajun country. Hush puppies were exquisite, crisp, crunchy, not greasy, just the right flavor. Gumbo was superb, smokey and rich. I had oysters, crawfish and crawfish etoufee, the Mrs. shrimp creole and catfish. Ron acted as if we'd been there a hundred times, recommending this and that, spicing things up. It was alot of food, and even with a couple drinks the total was just $40. It's a long way to go for us (95 miles from our front door) but if you're ever driving down I-80 it's well worth a stop. On Thursday, Friday Saturday or Sunday. Not too late. What a gem.
    trpt2345
  • Post #48 - December 30th, 2008, 2:08 pm
    Post #48 - December 30th, 2008, 2:08 pm Post #48 - December 30th, 2008, 2:08 pm
    trpt2345 wrote:It was the Mrs.'s birthday today, so on a gorgeous sunny Sunday we schlepped out to Utica for a late lunch with Ron at the Cajun Connection. I have been to all the Cajun places in Chicago, from Heaven on Seven, Mapletree, even the execrable Yats. Nothing comes close to the Cajun Connection. First place we've been outside Louisiana (well, there was a memorable place in Beaumont) that really reminds me of cajun country. Hush puppies were exquisite, crisp, crunchy, not greasy, just the right flavor. Gumbo was superb, smokey and rich. I had oysters, crawfish and crawfish etoufee, the Mrs. shrimp creole and catfish. Ron acted as if we'd been there a hundred times, recommending this and that, spicing things up. It was alot of food, and even with a couple drinks the total was just $40. It's a long way to go for us (95 miles from our front door) but if you're ever driving down I-80 it's well worth a stop. On Thursday, Friday Saturday or Sunday. Not too late. What a gem.


    I am really glad you enjoyed your visit to Ron's, your experience mirrors those of anyone I have sent there, or read a review of.

    I need to get to Ron's in January, I havent been in about a month. I am really looking forward to the crawfish boils in the New Year.
  • Post #49 - January 18th, 2009, 11:23 am
    Post #49 - January 18th, 2009, 11:23 am Post #49 - January 18th, 2009, 11:23 am
    Dinner last night topped off a day of travel into Chicago, and some good food. Ron held his own with everything else we had today(Snout to Tail & Sun Wah BBQ).

    I was drinking some Fat Tire 2 Below(Preceded by a boilermaker at home), which was very good.

    For dinner we all started with gumbo(a must @ Ron's, save the salad for another meal). I ordered a pick 3 - Fried alligator, crawfish etouffee, and a pair of frog legs. My otyher dinign companions had combos of red beans and rice, w/ bubba shrimp, and fried catfish, and shrimp etouffee. Al were excellent, I am becoming a bigger fan of gator, and frog legs with every meal.

    As a side note Ron will be having his first Crawfish boil the second weekend in February, I will post as soon as I know the date, and perhaps set up an event if others are willing to come out.

    Red Beans and Rice w/ Bubba Shrimp:
    Image

    Frog Legs, Fried Alligator & Crawfish Etouffee:
    Image

    gumbo:
    Image
  • Post #50 - January 27th, 2009, 10:36 pm
    Post #50 - January 27th, 2009, 10:36 pm Post #50 - January 27th, 2009, 10:36 pm
    jimswside wrote:

    As a side note Ron will be having his first Crawfish boil the second weekend in February, I will post as soon as I know the date, and perhaps set up an event if others are willing to come out.


    Please do. That sounds fantastic. February 7 & 8? Or 14 & 15?
    trpt2345
  • Post #51 - January 28th, 2009, 9:00 am
    Post #51 - January 28th, 2009, 9:00 am Post #51 - January 28th, 2009, 9:00 am
    trpt2345 wrote:
    jimswside wrote:

    As a side note Ron will be having his first Crawfish boil the second weekend in February, I will post as soon as I know the date, and perhaps set up an event if others are willing to come out.


    Please do. That sounds fantastic. February 7 & 8? Or 14 & 15?


    I am on their event email list, so I will kepp checking that and the website, I will also make a call next week to make sure I dont miss the date.
  • Post #52 - February 18th, 2009, 12:52 am
    Post #52 - February 18th, 2009, 12:52 am Post #52 - February 18th, 2009, 12:52 am
    So I am assuming there's no crawfish boil in February? I am poised for a reason to go to Cajun Connection.
    trpt2345
  • Post #53 - February 18th, 2009, 6:12 am
    Post #53 - February 18th, 2009, 6:12 am Post #53 - February 18th, 2009, 6:12 am
    Ron's will be celebrating Fat Tuesday on Feb. 24.
  • Post #54 - February 18th, 2009, 7:23 am
    Post #54 - February 18th, 2009, 7:23 am Post #54 - February 18th, 2009, 7:23 am
    trpt2345 wrote:So I am assuming there's no crawfish boil in February? I am poised for a reason to go to Cajun Connection.


    I have been busy trying new spots, and have failed to give Ron a call. I am not sure if there was a crawfish boil earlier in the month.
  • Post #55 - February 18th, 2009, 7:59 am
    Post #55 - February 18th, 2009, 7:59 am Post #55 - February 18th, 2009, 7:59 am
    Ron's will be open from noon until 9 for Mardis Gras, no mention of crawfish.


    http://www.ronscajunconnection.com/
  • Post #56 - February 18th, 2009, 8:16 am
    Post #56 - February 18th, 2009, 8:16 am Post #56 - February 18th, 2009, 8:16 am
    LikestoEatout wrote:Ron's will be open from noon until 9 for Mardis Gras, no mention of crawfish.



    are you going? I am still deciding if we will attend.
    Last edited by jimswside on February 18th, 2009, 12:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #57 - February 18th, 2009, 12:46 pm
    Post #57 - February 18th, 2009, 12:46 pm Post #57 - February 18th, 2009, 12:46 pm
    No, too hard to get away on a work night. Would love to though! We haven't been to Ron's since we met you and your family and Cathy2 there. The last few times we were by, we didn't feel like waiting and just headed home. Peoria and the inlaws wear me out enough!
  • Post #58 - February 24th, 2009, 7:44 am
    Post #58 - February 24th, 2009, 7:44 am Post #58 - February 24th, 2009, 7:44 am
    I just recieved an email stating their is a crawfish boil @ Cajun Connection March 6th thru March 8th while supplies last. Great news.
  • Post #59 - February 24th, 2009, 10:53 am
    Post #59 - February 24th, 2009, 10:53 am Post #59 - February 24th, 2009, 10:53 am
    Great news. Looks like the 6th would be a good date for me.
    trpt2345
  • Post #60 - February 24th, 2009, 11:04 am
    Post #60 - February 24th, 2009, 11:04 am Post #60 - February 24th, 2009, 11:04 am
    trpt2345 wrote:Great news. Looks like the 6th would be a good date for me.


    I posted an event for the 7th on the events board if you can change your plans, otherwise enjoy the 6th, and plan to get there when they open( I just cant get out there before 5:30-5:45 after work, and I fear they would be packed by then, otherwise the 6th would work for me).

    The most important thing is to not miss it one way or the other. :D

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