Howes Bayou: Turns Woodward Ave. into Bourbon St.
Words & Photos by Joe Hakim
Mardi Gras is upon us. Sadly, we live nowhere near Bourbon Street. However, there are places that make a valiant attempt to bring all of the fun and excitement of New Orleans to metro Detroit.
Starting February 17, Howe’s Bayou goes into full-on Mardi Gras mode. The weekend is filled with live music, drinks, friends and family. All of the excess culminates on Fat Tuesday, or the day before the official start of Lent.
Let’s not talk about Lent, though. All of that giving up stuff is no fun. You know what is fun? Finding baby Jesus in a piece of cake! Allow me to explain the wondrous phenomenon known as the King Cake.
Similar to an iced cinnamon roll, the King Cake is also decorated in colored sprinkles (in typical Mardi Gras colors – purple, green and yellow usually), and it is closely tied to NoLa tradition. Customarily, the host of the year’s party serves a slice of the delicious cake to each of the guests. In one of the slices is a figurine of baby Jesus. Whoever ends up with the slice containing the figurine is crowned King or Queen of Mardi Gras for that year, and is expected to host the following year’s party. Sounds festive, right? And perhaps a little odd – but hey, what traditions don’t seem a little odd before they’re adopted, right?
Well, they don’t have Jesus cake at Howe’s. But what they do have is just as fun! There are roughly 150 to 200 gift bags given away over the weekend, containing all sorts of gift certificates and other goodies.
What goodies are in store for you during the Mardi Gras festivities? Well, to put it bluntly – booze. Howe’s always has a plethora of great drinks, we all know that. But perhaps on this, the most festive of occasions, you might try something a little different. Hurricanes are some of the most recognizable New Orleans drinks. You’ve likely heard of them or even seen them if you’ve made the trip down to the French Quarter. And if you haven’t, well, this is your grand opportunity to act like a tourist in your own town. Hurricanes are infamously strong fruit punch drinks (typically served in special hurricane lamp glasses), and we remind you that they are very potent, albeit delicious beyond compare.
Another standard drink that you should definitely partake in (Carnival, as it’s called farther south, and Mardi Gras are times where partaking in all festivities are anything but frowned upon) is Sazerac. It is also a native New Orleans concoction. It is, in fact, one of the original American cocktails. The glass is washed with anise-flavored liqueur, for starters. Add simple syrup, two kinds of bitters, bourbon and ice. Sound good? They are. So please try one.
Perhaps you’re a beer fan. Well, don’t think for one second that Mardi Gras (and Howe’s) only humors non-brew drinkers. Abita Springs, Louisiana is roughly a half hour north of New Orleans. It is there that you will find a craft brewery named the Abita Brewing Company. They’ve been producing fantastically delicious beer there for over a quarter century, and it has recently been adopted as a modern Mardi Gras tradition to throw a few of these back as well. So, give one a shot while you’re at the Bayou – it’s pretty appealing, in addition to being supremely authentic in terms of Mardi Gras celebrations.
Now let’s get down to the grub. Howe’s definitely doesn’t skimp on the Louisiana-style food, either. They’ll have, for your enjoyment and palate pleasure, Mississippi catfish (is there really any other kind?) and jambalaya – two staples of a good NoLa meal. Also dig into their bisque and étouffée, both of which are fantastic and authentic.
So, now that you’re in the know in terms of the offerings that you’ll be enjoying in lovely Ferndale this weekend, please plan accordingly (and responsibly). They’ll be open
from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. every night but Sunday (during which they’ll still be giving you a fantastic span of hours in which to enjoy yourself – from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.). Have we convinced you that the only place that’s second to Bourbon Street is Woodward Avenue this Mardi Gras?
Originally published in Real Detroit Weekly
Howe’s Bayou is located at 22848 Woodward Ave. in Ferndale. They can be reached at 249.691.7145 or online at howesbayouferndale.net.