Cajun Dave’s offers a different kind of bar food

Laura Lofgren

Brian Bower, Cajun Dave’s managing partner and chef, cooks shrimp with a flame by adding brandi to the pan. The new restaurant, locaated in Water Street Tavern, serves a variety of appetizers, entrees and sides. Jessica M. Kanalas | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Check out photos of Cajun Dave’s from earlier this summer.

A new restaurant has graced downtown Kent with its presence. Offering a southern, Cajun-inspired cuisine, Cajun Dave’s opened inside Water Street Tavern earlier this summer. In conjunction, the two operations use the appeal of a “bar/restaurant” to tantalize the stomachs of Kent State students and citizens alike.

Cajun Daves’ entrees, po’boys, burgers, pizza and other dishes are prepared with fresh ingredients daily and cooked to order.

“We don’t take shortcuts,” co-owner Brian Brower said.

Brower opened Cajun Dave’s with Dave Russo, who, he said, is known to have a fan following in this area. Chef Russo of Russo’s Restaurant located in Peninsula on State Road, spent 13 years training in New Orleans, including time at Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant.

Brower, a former Kent State student, attended culinary school in Pittsburgh and spent nine years in South Carolina learning to prepare Cajun-influenced foods.

Cajun Dave’s makes its food accessible by offering a walk-up window from the sidewalk. People can order and pay without entering the bar and receive their food in matter of minutes. Starting Sept. 10, the restaurant will offer new hours and a “late-night menu” from midnight to closing. Lower prices and smaller portions will be available at the walk-up window to those who want a late snack or dinner. Cajun Dave’s also recommends call-in orders, which can be picked up inside or at the walk-up window.

Signature bayou dishes at Cajun Dave’s include cajun chicken and smoked sausage jambalaya, gumbo ya ya and the “best-selling” Cajun Dave’s style fries, which are topped with melted cheddar cheese, roast beef gravy and horseradish sauce.

The philosophy behind Russo’s cuisine, according to Brower, is “simple, but it’s not found in every kitchen.”

“We deal with flavorful food,” Brower said. “We start with quality products, building layer upon layer of flavors. You can always add more spice to it, (but) nothing’s overpowering.”

Aimee Ray, Cajun Dave’s employee, has been working since the store opened.

“It’s fun, different and laid back,” Ray said, “but everyone works really hard at the same time.”

The gumbo, a favorite of Ray’s, costs $6.50, but to her, it’s a good deal and it’s different than ordinary bar food.

“It comes off as expensive, but with the size of the portions, it’s definitely worth your money,” she said.

To accommodate the surge of students, Cajun Dave’s will open earlier on the weekends and will be open later. Currently, the restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to midnight.

Starting Sept. 10, Dave’s will be open the following hours: Monday through Wednesday from 4 p.m. to midnight, Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m., Saturday from noon to 3 a.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 10 p m.

Underage students are not allowed through the doors of the Water Street Tavern after 9 p.m., but may order food from the restaurant’s walk-up window.

Contact features correspondent Laura Lofgren at [email protected]