I didn't spot my friend at a corner table when I arrived at The Alligator Cafe so I sat at the bar and checked out the menu. Top item; Fried Green Tomatoes, $5.95. No reason to keep reading; I'd start with those and have plenty of time to look at the rest later.
The place is different from Frankie's Lil Europe which was the cafe in this quaint corner of Casa Linda, the last time I was here. Different but yet very much the same; casually inviting, doors to the front and doors to the courtyard wide open, and the very large fountain still begging to be brought back to its glory days.
It wasn't long before my friend and I were digging into a plate of tomatoes. Diggin 'em too. Crunchy but light and like good green ones should be; super sweet. I dug for a pen from my bag and wrote myself a reminder; make green tomato pie.
Around seven, there was Andrea, smiling and singing to the crowded cafe, my real reason for coming and my first opportunity to see her since she returned from her three-month stint at the Waldorf in Shanghai. Welcome home, girl!
Andrea sang Route 66. I ate a few large shrimp, each bite dipped in tarter sauce.
She sang Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay as my friend ate catfish.
My sister arrived. Andrea sang a Mavis tune as our table was topped with collards, white beans and crawfish.
Gentleman John Street, straight from Louisiana, was backing Andrea and giving us a few soulful solos of his own.
Andrea sang a tribute to our mom!
Tony brought more Gulf shrimp and a gorgeous smile.
Andrea sang Happy Birthday to my sister in English and Chinese!
Between sets she hung out with some of her admiring friends.
It was such fun, this evening of Cajun, Creole and Blues, that I found myself back at the cafe two nights later for Dawson's 10:00 turn at the mic.
Kicking back, I listened to Twenty-Nine Ways, Stormy Monday, It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing. There was Van Morrison's Moondance and there was a little Tina Turner with I Can't Stand the Rain. There were more Fried Green Tomatoes too.
I met Bill Eden on the saxophone and Alex Seriano on keys.
Andrea sang At Last for me!
At 1:00 it was time to go home...
I'll be back to try the crab claws, lots of hushpuppies on the side. I'll try blackened tilapia and the cucumber-tomato salad, and I'm sure to be swinging by to pick up hot Po' Boys to-go.
But mostly, I'll be waiting for the awesome Ms. Dawson to return.
The Alligator Cafe, Casa Linda Plaza
Dallas, 214.821.6900, eatgator.com
They really do serve alligator.