by Ronny Green
If my first impression of the Draft Room could have been narrated by anyone it would be Dick Vitale with a resounding, “AWESOME BABY, WITH A CAPITAL A!”
After weeks of missed fight nights and NBA playoff action, I finally made my way to Paragon’s newest dining attraction. As I was making my selection from over forty cold brews on tap to fill my beer flight, I was given a reassuring pre-game pep talk by Elana, one of the captains of this culinary all-star team, that I was not going to leave hungry.
Not long after we took our seats, I was hit with a three-man rush of appetizers. The seafood remoulade salad came piled high with leafy greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, pickled okra, and spicy green beans. The Firecracker Shrimp is tossed in a sweet and spicy Thai sauce that dances around your taste buds with every bit. Then there are the gumbo fries, topped with white Wisconsin cheddar and swimming in a roux of andouille sausage, tasso ham, chicken thighs, apple wood smoked bacon and the holy trinity of cooking: onions, bell peppers, and celery. After the first bite I could hear John Madden’s voice, “BOOM,” as if my appetite had just been sacked by this dinner in a bowl posing as a menu starter item.
How about some pizza? Does a Cajun Lover’s Pizza tickle your fancy? Because, of course, we’re in the heart of Cajun country so it’s only right to pile on the shrimp, sauteed crawfish, and sliced andouille sausage, then dust it with Tony’s and Parmesan and you’ve got an authentic slice of Louisiana. Follow that up with a Meat Lover’s Pizza for the table to indulge in: loaded with pepperoni, a special cheese blend, andouille, bacon bits, beef tips, and slices of Italian sausage … this ain’t your regular degular everyday takeout pizza.
Pizza and wings are a good game day combo, but pizza and burgers pair together … even better. Especially if we are talking about the Draft Room’s made to order half-pound burgers blended just right for a juicy finished product you have to use both hands to eat or a knife for backup if you’re having the grilled cheese cheeseburger with a side of Quinton’s one-of-a-kind baked beans.
As if the full court press of flavors could not get any better, let me tell you about the Chicken Avoyelles. Lightly breaded chicken breasts swimming in a creamy crawfish, tasso, artichoke, mushroom sauce with a splash of cognac on a bed of linguini. After stuffing my face with two hefty bites, I could hear Mike Breen’s undeniable, “BANG!” as if Steph Curry had just hit a 34-foot three pointer!
If Shrimp and Grits is what you’re craving, the Draft Room is dishing out the kind of grits that your grandmother and your favorite foodie would agree are the bomb dot com. Topped with spicy grilled shrimp and a hint of jalapeño juice, Chef Dylan was not messing around when he perfected this recipe. Next up out of the bullpen, I’m introduced to the Seafood Platter featuring fried catfish, fried shrimp, fried oysters, french fries, hush puppies, house-made tartar and a side of slaw. Oh, and two soft shell crabs, because you gotta go big or go home! Rounding out the seafood portion of my feast are a dozen chargrilled oysters straight from the flaming grilling station directly in front of God and everybody manned by the one and only Mr. Paul, the baddest oyster shucker around.
By now I’m like a boxer barely holding on in the twelfth round when the one two punch of Peach Cobbler and Bananas Foster Cheesecake put me down for the TKO. The peach cobbler is made with peaches that have been marinating for three days in peach schnapps topped with Madagascar vanilla bean ice cream with 17% butter fat. The cheesecake is the end result of a 3-5 day process topped with sugary sweet bananas foster sauce and a dollop of whip cream.
This squad of kitchen Superstars doesn’t rely on one person to carry the load … like an orchestra led by Brad Z and the staff at the Draft work together in unison to create a consistent, enjoyable dining experience. Game day or not you cannot go wrong with a visit to the Draft Room inside the Paragon.
View The Draft Room’s Food and Beer Menu: http://ow.ly/v5Fl50FChbX