When Mark and Robin Drouin sold their popular Cajun Cabin food truck after nine years of serving delicious Creole and Cajun dishes, it was to fulfill a lifelong goal of finally having their own brick-and-mortar restaurant: Southern Kitchen.
By the time they were ready to open their doors in April, the city was still under a stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus. They finally got their doors open a few months later, only to find new fans who were quick to support them and their food with rave reviews for their carryout, dine-in, sidewalk seating and delivery dishes.
“When we moved to Kansas City from New Orleans in 2011, we had survived Hurricane Katrina, and were looking for a fresh start,” says Mark. “We brought with us our family recipes for the Cajun and Creole dishes that New Orleans has always been famous for, and we love sharing our food with people who appreciate the dishes that remind us of home.”
In January, the couple signed the lease to take over the former Empanada Madness space, located in a busy strip shopping center on south State Line Road, to open their new restaurant.
“We decided to change the name of our restaurant from Cajun Cabin to Southern Kitchen because we wanted the flexibility to expand our offerings,” says Mark. “We wanted to be able to serve more than just the Cajun dishes we were known for, and Southern Kitchen seemed to cover it.”
For those new to Cajun or Creole cuisine, or for those dining at Southern Kitchen for the first time, the Southern Kitchen Sampler Platter is the best way to get a taste of the dishes that Louisiana put on the culinary map. It features your choice of three 6-ounce servings of either jambalaya, étouffée, red beans and rice, chowder or gumbo. Already have a favorite? All of these dishes are also available in full-sized orders.
Southern Kitchen’s jambalaya is made with chicken and andouille sausage with a blend of cooked rice, onions, garlic and celery, seasoned with thyme, basil, parsley and Creole seasoning. Red beans and rice is another fan favorite that is deeply flavored featuring creamy light red kidney beans slow cooked and served over rice with andouille sausage. Finally, the étouffée is a rich and refined dish made with shrimp or crawfish smothered in a butter blend of diced tomatoes, onions, celery and garlic served over rice.
On the soup side, you can opt for a classic gumbo (made with chicken and andouille sausage in a roux with onions, celery, garlic and parsley served over rice), and a family favorite: the shrimp and corn chowder made with seasoned shrimp in a mix of diced potatoes with a blend of cream of mushroom, cream corn, half and half and Creole seasoning.
Other popular items include the fried, grilled or blackened Basa fish platter, grilled boudin or andouille sausage and a delicious fried shrimp po'boy served on a soft French roll with lettuce and tomatoes.
Considering you can count the number of Kansas City restaurants that serve Cajun or Creole cuisine on one hand, Southern Kitchen is a welcome new place to get that taste of New Orleans.
Southern Kitchen is now open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 8pm.
Southern Kitchen, 13135 State Line Road, Kansas City, Missouri, 816.214.6444, southernkitchenkc.com