Yats. A place that is clearly an institution in Indy, and one which people have extremely strong feelings about. And a place I had never been until this visit. Not sure why, possibly because I just get nervous about places like this—it seems like there are expectations to live up to and sometimes in this town I find with places like this (see, Mug n Bun),sometimes people’s sentimentality dominates their taste buds. (Actually, I could name a list of places that this applies to now that I think about it—Hollyhock Hill is the first one that springs to mind, not to mention a LOT of Italian places in this town).
But, it was cold, really cold, one day and I wanted something warm and comforting and thought it was as good a time as any to check it out (and I had an appointment on Mass Ave, so it worked out). I felt as though it was a requirement to get the chili cheese étouffée with crawfish, as untraditional as it may be, just because it is the thing I always hear people talking about. But I wanted to try more than one thing, so I also got the drunken chicken (a two plate combo is $6.75).
You know, I liked the chili cheese étouffée ok. As in, it was a cold day, and it hit the spot. I can see how you could develop a taste for it. The texture is quite smooth (thinking processed cheese here) but the chili part of it added some depth. I enjoyed the bits of crawfish I got, but I have to say, they were few and far between (maybe like 3-4 pieces of crawfish, no whole tail pieces). They were tender though when I stumbled upon one. Couldn’t really describe it as Cajun in my opinion, but I am no expert there. It certainly was not overly spicy. The rice was kind of minute ricey, very un-sticky if you know what I mean and honestly, I can’t believe I am saying this, there wasn’t really enough rice to absorb the sauce and make the right proportion. I know most people would probably like more of the higher priced part of the food, but it needed more rice for balance. I basically felt like I was eating stew off of a plate.
I wasn’t a fan of the drunken chicken. It was a beer and tomato based sauce with other seasonings, but didn’t really have a whole lot of flavor to me. Also, even with the chicken, I had a hard time picking out much meat. I don’t know, I just didn’t get a lot of flavor from this dish, and I didn’t really care for it. I was glad I had gotten the étouffée because I much preferred it. The dishes are served with a side of garlic bread which was pretty darn tasty—very garlicky in that bright yellow kind of way, but in the way that you just can’t stop eating it. I can see why they offer extra sides of it for 50 cents.
So I wouldn’t put it in the same classification as the restaurants above. I think at least they are doing something unique (although I couldn’t really say it was truly authentic Cajun food) and you get something that they have actually made themselves for a very reasonable price. It hit the spot for me that day, and I can see how it might pop to mind when you’re cold and you are running low on cash. But not sure it lived up to my expectations of what I was hoping for….or I don’t know, maybe it did. Maybe it just didn’t live up to the hype.
Yats (various locations around town)
659 Massachusetts Avenue