'Where everybody knows your name...': Selena's at Willow Lake Tavern [Food and dining]

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I love food yet hate trying new places, I love food but have a keen dislike of the familiar response of "Anywhere is fine, you decide, honey." Being a creature of habit and who knows what he likes makes it difficult for me to make a decision on going out to dinner when my wife asks. My stubbornness is proven ridiculous at every left turn and my girl is proven right at all the others.

Take Selina’s (10609 Lagrange Road) for example. Last spring my fiance’ took me to the new Selina’s (formally known as Willow Lake Tavern) because she knew I loved Cajun food and the menu steered toward the direction of the French Quarter.

The ambiance was terrific, but as we sat outside in the beautiful brick courtyard next to the fantastic fountain and koi pond we received some of the most incompetent service ever. The menu was incorrect, the server confused, and the gumbo had more bay leaves than a mini bonsai. I understood that they had just opened so there was bound to be a learning curve, (and being more Cajun than the new employees I understood that much can be lost in translation.)

My fiance (now wife) convinced me to go back for a Sunday brunch a few months later and the service was better and the menus this time were correct. I was happy and satisfied that a local Louisville Cajun restaurant was not only trying to correct mistakes, but actually trying to get what they sell correct.  Nothing fancy, just good food, good people, good environment and great prices.

I’m all for second (and third) chances so the next time that I suggested to my gal that I’d take her out to dinner I surprised her by taking her back to Selina’s, and this time the dinner exceeded all my Cajun expectations. Spiced perfectly, served correctly, and a waiter who I didn’t even remember walked past our table and kindly remembered me and my fiance by first name even though I wouldn't have been able to pick him up out of a line up.
 
“Third time’s the charm” so they say and after some growing pains this joint is definitely getting it right. Granted it’s still a little spicy for my gal, but we’ve met in the middle—I can actually taste the wonderful spices they have perfected and she has learned to augment her ordering to local flavors she has known her entire life. Selena’s has done such an amazing job of reinventing and improving itself that a Cajun like myself had Louisiana (with similar burned-out palate which rival mine) parents choose the location for my rehearsal dinner the evening before I got married. I had very little to do with their decision—one bite after my recommendation they were hooked.

On my parent's first visit the owners even gave my nephew food to feed the fish outside which helped keep him occupied while the order was being delivered; those are the extra touches that aren't on the receipt but nothing counts without.

Continuing to innovate, the owners are getting back to their roots by incorporating Sicilian cuisine without losing the Cajun flair and fun…for a guy who loves good spices, good food and great company I say: laissez les bon temps rouler!

Photo: Selena's

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