When a restaurant includes the word “swamp” in its name and splashes the word around wantonly on the menu, you really can’t be sure if you should be eating the oysters. Fortunately, SwampWater Grill gets it right, and fills out the rest of its menu with bayou standards like jambalaya, gumbo, and fried seafood fill out the menu (all of which ably represent the beloved culinary genre). Even better news: The East End restaurant doesn’t settle for the obvious. The extensive menu features amped up pub-style items for those who may be squeamish about crawfish tails (which can be added to just about anything on the menu). You’ll also find a roundup of oyster, shrimp, and catfish Po’Boys, as well as a whole menu section devoted to hardwood-smoked meats. At first blush, SwampWater Grill is a dive where homesick Cajuns can find a good pile of jambalaya. But thoughtful details like draft Abita Root Beer and char-grilled Gulf Coast oysters on the half shell signal ambition. And therein lies the SwampWater sweet spot: casual classics done right and served alongside the slightly unexpected.
SwampWater Grill, 3742 Kellogg Ave., East End, (513) 834-7067, swampwatergrill.com
Originally published in the February 2014 issue.