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grub: Cajun Fare in the Middle of Nowhere



Marc Adams has spent some time in the Bayou, and when he and his wife Daniele opened the place last September they wanted to maintain that Cajun laid-back feel. As far as location goes, they nailed it: Their shack is way out on New Market Road, about where Laburnum hits Route 5. The little shoebox of a place is about 95 percent kitchen space, a countertop and 10 bar stools, where patrons can gaze at passing traffic while nursing their burning tongues.

That said, Chillin' and Grillin' is all about heat. The first thing that hits you when you walk in the door is the huge variety of hot sauces, most of which promise agonizing pain to anyone who uncorks the bottle. Among the threatening concoctions were something called "Kiss Your Ass Goodbye" hot sauce and another labeled, simply, "Hot as S--t Sauce." A drop of the stuff could hospitalize you for a week. Still, here you are, giddy with excitement, tempted to just dab a little on your catfish po' boy.

Still, Marc is adamant that heat for heat's sake is a recipe for disaster. "If it's nothing but blistering hot, I wouldn't take two cents for it," he says. "It's gotta have flavor." A minute later, he's leaning across the counter with a plate that holds two of the spiciest-looking chicken parts I've ever seen. He points them out on the menu: "Hab' Mercy wings."

"I'll give you an extra drink if you need it," he says.

The wings aren't nearly as wicked as they looked, but instead are "sweet hot" just as we'd been told. Marc also pushes mozzarella sticks across the counter accompanied by a raspberry chipotle sauce that is one of the best dipping sauces I've ever tasted. Surrounded by all that food (toss in a Cajunburger with hot mayo and jalapenos, a fried catfish po' boy and a 20 ounce Coke) it feels suddenly as if we are being prepped for a heartburn commercial.

The Chillin' and Grillin' Shack was born of Marc's love for cooking at festivals, barbecues, gumbos and biker rallies, which he did for years before deciding to make a go of his recipes at his own place. He still hits the festivals every weekend he can, which explains the Chillin' and Grillin' summer hours: It's closed on weekends from April through October. Heat is a big part of the novelty here, but flavor is surely what'll keep 'em coming back.

Chillin' and Grillin' Shack
2097 New Market Road
Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
April through October.
Open Saturdays 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.,
November through March.

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