Cajun food is often misrepresented west of the Mississippi River and is not a frequent culinary adventure chefs want to tackle on the West Coast. With a blend of Southern and French influences, Cajun is not for weak taste palates.
This style of food hails from the Cajun people, a group of French Acadians who headed down to Louisiana after being exiled from Quebec. This history helps to explain the pairing of Southern comfort food with the culinary complexity of the French. Creole food, which is often bundled in with Cajun, is also closely related to that of Cajun but is influenced more by the Creole people: the city dwellers who took a more gourmet, complex take on the Cajun flavors.
Black Wolf Supper Club on 454 Willamette St. perfectly executes this delicious Southern-Cajun style and pairs it with a swanky, casual experience in the Market District of downtown Eugene. Because they understand that the Southern-Cajun experience is more than just the food, Black Wolf Supper Club also provides alcohol-heavy slushie versions of daiquiris and hurricanes, along with a full-service bar.
The restaurant sits in the location that was once occupied by Belly Taquería — a Mexican restaurant serving primarily gourmet tacos, as well as tostadas, empanadas, salads and other options. Belly and Black Wolf Supper Club share the same owner, Brendan Mahaney, who also partnered with Buck Buck owners Mikey Lawrence and Edgar Arellano. Both Lawrence and Arellano know Mahaney from working as chefs at his previous establishments. Lawrence and Arellano then transformed Belly Taquería into Black Wolf Supper Club to match their vision and took over the day-to-day operations from Mahaney when he moved to Portland. The trio of owners opened up the revamped space and menu on Oct. 16, 2017, at precisely 4:20 in the evening.
Because Cajun food is not for everyone, Black Wolf Supper Club offers more traditional Southern favorites like their Buck Buck fried chicken. The perfectly prepared dish draws from the owners’ experience operating local favorite Buck Buck — a food truck that used to be parked outside of Oakshire Brewery before exploding in February.
The Cajun restaurant sometimes takes a little artistic license when it comes to mixing different Cajun and Southern dishes. The mac & cheese with crayfish and tasso ham mixes the Southern favorite mac & cheese with the local Louisiana favorite crayfish. Using the protein that can be found in the swamps and waters around Louisiana is a founding factor in Cajun food. Crayfish, crab, shrimp and alligator are all things often used in Cajun/Creole cooking because they can be caught either from the swamp or the neighboring Gulf Coast.
Crayfish makes another appearance in the geniusly paired crayfish beignets. The doughy-yet-crispy New Orleans beignets are stuffed with the surprisingly delightful fishiness of crayfish. The beignets are then paired with a creamy, spicy sauce to make for a perfect shared dish. A similar, but slightly different shared dish is the crab hush puppies. Again, the doughy potato base of the hush puppy paired with the soft, delicate crab meat makes for another hit.
One of the more popular sharing dishes — that also remains true to Southern tradition — is the New Orleans barbecue Shrimp. The shrimp are cooked in a barbecue concoction that gives them a sweet, smoky flavor. They are then served to the guest in their natural state, still wrapped in their shell. Peeling the shrimp can be a pain, but it keeps the delicious juices inside to make for a better-tasting product once the hard work of peeling is finished.
The effective mixing of Cajun and Southern food, the chefs’ take on these flavors and a fun atmosphere make Black Wolf Supper Club a necessary stop the next time you’re in the Market District area.