Emigail's Roadhouse brings bayou to little Newville
NEWVILLE—On the last weekend in April, “Break in the Weather” celebrations around Lake Koshkonong will turn the unincorporated hub of Newville into party central. The Anchor Inn will be packed with revelers enjoying live bands, beer and bar food.
Just across Highway 59, little Emigail's Roadhouse also will be at capacity. While it's not as flashy as its neighbor, Emigail's draws a devoted fan base. It offers smaller musical acts, a good bar and very good food that goes well beyond your standard bar food.
Emigail's specializes in Cajun food, and the staff does it well. Mitch, Lisa and Nancy joined us for a Tuesday night dinner recently. The weather hadn't broken yet, but Emigail's was doing impressive business for a typically slow night.
No doubt about it, people are there for the food. The place doesn't have much ambiance to speak of. The bar takes up most of the back wall, and a few tables are scattered on either side of the front door alongside the ATM, video games and jukebox. The service is friendly but not fancy.
The nondescript setting quickly becomes a non-issue when you see the dishes coming out of the kitchen. In our case, the neighboring table was more than happy to tell us what they ordered and their favorites.
We had to try the gator bites ($10), a basket of breaded, deep-fried alligator. Mitch found it a bit salty, but I didn't mind. The breading was nice and light, and the moist meat tasted like … chicken. But let's face it, eating gator is a much better story than chicken nuggets.
Mitch had the gumbo yaya with shrimp ($16), a Cajun favorite with andouille sausage, diced tomatoes and a choice of chicken or shrimp. He liked the flavor and the level of heat, which fell nicely between a kick and blazing hot.
The Guaymas shrimp ($16) was a milder dish featuring shrimp poached in a sauce of ancho chili, mushrooms and green onions, served over angel hair pasta. Lisa graciously shared her dish with the table, and it was a winner. The jumbo shrimp were tender and perfectly cooked. The pasta was nicely sauced, and the flavors well-balanced. Most of us liked it best of all the dishes ordered.
Nancy wasn't in the mood for spicy, so she ordered the “normal” deep-fried shrimp ($16), served with choice of side. The kitchen knows how to use the deep fryer; the shrimp were tender inside while the breading was light and crispy. The portion was generous, and Nancy left happy and full.
My husband, Richard, ordered the crawfish poboy ($10). The soft French roll was stuffed with breaded, deep-fried crawfish and sauced with a tasty, but not spicy, remoulade. It was a good sandwich.
I chose the jambalaya ($14) with a little trepidation because, unlike Richard, I don't particularly like crawfish. I'm glad I got over my reservations because Emigail's jambalaya is rich, spicy and satisfying. The crawfish tails enhanced the flavors of the rice, vegetables, andouille and chicken breast. The portion was huge, and the leftovers made for a good lunch the next day.
With its unassuming exterior and laid-back vibe, it's easy to forget about Emigail's. Next time you're in Newville, park your car just a little way away from the Rock River and pretend you're eating in the bayou. You'll be happy you did.