The only things I know about Cajun food is that it originates from Louisiana, uses seafood and should be spicy. I’ve never had anything near authentic Cajun food before so I’m not going to claim I know what’s good Cajun food. But, I do know what good food is in general, and can say without a doubt that the food at Liliana’s was fantastic! I looked at the menu a couple times the day before and still hadn’t decided what to get when I got there. The menu is an interesting mix of Cajun recipes, traditional restaurant offerings and a couple Wisconsin favorites. I knew I wanted to go the Cajun route but couldn’t decide what dish I wanted to try more. After rereading the menu multiple times I decided on the Jambalaya…probably the most Cajun dish I can think of!
While we were still deciding on what to get the waitress brought over a plate of cornbread. I don’t eat cornbread very often because it’s not readily available but I absolutely love it! We ate two plates of it with the super good whipped jalapeno butter. The jalapenos were at the bottom so you could get regular butter or spicy butter based on what your preference is. The cornbread was perfectly moist and sweet, a perfect compliment to the rich, spicy Cajun food.
My friend got the red beans which came in the same large serving and had vegan sausage in it. It was pretty good but the sweetness of the dish was a little unexpected. I think both of us were expecting a hearty, spicy flavor. The consistency was also interesting. The beans were cooked down to mush so there wasn’t much texture.
My large bowl of jambalaya came out smelling like wonderful spices and smokiness. I’m not the biggest fan of rice so I was pretty happy with the limited amount of it in the bowl. The four large shrimp were perfectly cooked, and the rest of the dish was a prefect combination of tomatoes, peppers, onions, ham, bacon strips and sausage. I loved that the sauce wasn’t too heavy and didn’t overpower any of the other ingredients. It wasn’t too spicy but had a super good flavor with a ton of depth!
The dessert menu had a couple regular restaurant options, bourbon pecan chocolate pie tarte, and then beignets. Beignets are a traditional Cajun dessert so we decided there was no other option. The beignets at Liliana’s are made with house-made brioche, fried and topped with powdered sugar. The beignets I’ve seen on TV are about the size of donut holes…these were basically the size of half a piece of bread. The order of three came with about an inch of powdered sugar on top. The powdered sugar made them kind of difficult to eat but totally worth it. They were super light and airy, and very flavorful! I’m definitely a fan of the beignet!
The atmosphere was not what I was expecting. The bar was dark and intimate. The dining room was smaller than expected and decorated very simplistically. I was expecting a more elaborate dining room with big booths for some reason! There was a jazz ensemble playing the night we were there that really added to the atmosphere. Their website says they have music most nights of the week so make sure to plan your visit on a night with music! The oddest thing was a water fountain in the middle of the dining room that wasn’t running and seemed out of place.The outdoor patios look really nice and I love eating outside so I really want to go back when they are open.
FOODNOTES: I know absolutely nothing about the authenticity of Cajun food but my jambalaya was very good. The flavor was amazing and the ingredients were very plentiful. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the red beans but the amount of vegetarian options was good to see. The corn bread and the beignets were the highlight of the meal! Both were exceptional and will probably bring me back to try other Cajun dishes!