Feed Your Soul: Waterfront Grill, Monroe

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MONROE, La (KNOE) “Feed Your Soul”—Louisiana’s motto. It’s all about the wonderful food and experiences that happen around a dinner table. Tammi Arender takes us on the culinary journey featuring the places and the people who make Louisiana famous for its food.

Our first stop on this culinary trail is Waterfront Grill in Monroe.

Stephanie Chadwick manhandles a huge pan, armed with a potato masher at Waterfront Grill in Monroe.

“I don’t really measure cause I’ve been doing it so long. You have a tendency for it to come out better if you don’t,” said Stephanie Chadwick, chef at Waterfront Grill in Monroe.

It’s a Wednesday and that means Chadwick is busy making the lunch special.

“Adding our onions to let them caramelize. He’s browned that meat ahead of time with some onions,” said Sam Weems, owner of Waterfront Grill.

Sam Weems and the kitchen staff are making one of the most popular off the menu dishes. Paw Paw’s beef tips and gravy. Paw Paw refers to Sam’s Dad, Luther Weems.

“My dad was real proud of Don [Sam’s late brother] and I for opening up our own business. He was proud of us. That’s why he was so involved. And that’s how the beef tips came around,” said Weems.

These beef tips are almost a work of art with the crazy rich gravy that will go over made from scratch mashed potatoes. Or you can get it over rice, your choice. Most of the recipes come from Luther Weems or someone in the family. Or Sam has been known to trade recipes.

“Like Don came with the red beans and rice recipe. The BBQ shrimp recipe I traded another recipe for that one. It’s been one of the most successful that we’ve got. You can even buy the packets and put in your butter and saute your own shrimp,” said Weems.

“The one thing we don’t do that is Louisiana that everyone picks at us about is we don’t fry. Everything is sautéed or baked. We didn’t say we were a health food restaurant cause that Shrimp Rahkee isn’t healthy but we don’t fry. And that came from the very first restaurant I opened in Natchez MS.”

Shrimp Rahkee (pronounced rocky) may not be healthy but oh, it sure is good. The Waterfront Grill menu can be described as southern comfort with a Louisiana spin. Even country superstars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill have dropped by for a bite. McGraw used to hang out here in his ULM college days. For Sam and Don Weems, it’s not just about good food, it’s about relationships.

“Our little business plan was, with all the people you know, to get them in once and my job is to get them back. That the food and service is good enough they’re going to come back and try us again,” said Weems.

And don't forget to check out the wall of history. Waterfront Grill was once the Non-Commissioned Officers Club during World War II. There was a glass dance floor where you could see the Bayou as you were swing dancing. Megastars like Tommy Dorsey, Glen Miller, and Ozzie & Harriett played there.

So Waterfront Grill isn't just a place to eat, it's a place to Feed Your Soul!

For more on Louisiana’s dining experiences go to www.louisianatravel.com/culinary #feedyoursoul #onlylouisiana