It’s been a Fat Tuesday phenomenon at Bobbique in Patchogue.
Now on its sixth year, the place packs out the night before Ash Wednesday for a Mardi Gras-inspired party the likes of which goes unmatched in Suffolk County.
And it wasn’t even a slow build for the crowds, despite the day of the week, explained Bobbique owner Eric Rifkin.
“We were busy from the get-go,” he said. “What I like to say about Patchogue is all you need to do is give people a reason to come out and have a good time and they do.”
Check out this Newsday video from last year’s Fat Tuesday party.
Bobbique’s Fat Tuesday menu features traditional cajun and New Orleans-inspired cuisine.
This year Fat Tuesday is Feb. 9. The menu has already been hammered out and features chicken and sausage jambalaya, seafood gumbo and a shrimp and crawfish boil, among other items. Prior years’ menus included frog legs, turtle soup and alligator.
The more exotic items weren’t exactly hits among the locals. “People are scared; it’s still Patchogue,” Rifkin said. “Things like that aren’t as embraced here on the South Shore of Long Island.”
The Fat Tuesday event at Bobbique is a joint collaboration of Rifkin and his staff, as well his longtime friend Colleen McGrath, a Medford native.
McGrath is a personal chef and caterer who operates the Seatuck Cove House B&B in Eastport.
She has ties to Louisiana that stretch back over a decade through her work with a New Orleans-based building automations systems company called Computrols.
McGrath also lived in New Orleans for 2 1/2 years.
“I started cooking in the cajun style when I started working for the company,” she explained. “They would have parties and barbecues and since everyone lived in New Orleans, the functions were all cajun and New Orleans-based.
“Where you might find Italian food at events here, if you go to a party in New Orleans you’ll find fried catfish, oysters done all different ways, jambalaya, crawfish and different seafood.”
Rifkin said he was enjoying some of McGrath’s gumbo or jambalaya one night about six years ago when he suggested a Fat Tuesday party.
She loved the idea, figuring the concept would be embraced by the Bobbique crowd, which isn’t all that different from that of New Orleans.
“Everybody loves to party down there,” she said. “Everybody’s very spontaneous. They’ll put together a party for anything. They just love to eat and they love to party.”
Of course, they’re a bit more open to eating amphibians.
“I’m sure they started doing it out of necessity,” Rifkin said of eating frogs, turtle and alligator.
“It’s just cool to see turtle soup on the menu,” said McGrath, who isn’t ready to give up on it just yet. “If I can get one person to try it, that’s better than nothing.”
Fat Tuesday is Feb. 9. The party at Bobbique starts at 8 p.m. and is $5 at the door. Dinner reservations are recommended. Along with the New Orleans-inspired menu, Jack’s Waterfall will be performing with a tuba and other brass instruments. Beads, masks and moon pies will be on hand.