My mom and grandmother were in town for a visit and we took them to Acadiana for dinner. Acadiana is a "contemporary interpretation of a Louisiana fish house" according to Chef Jeff Tunks (also of TenPenh, Ceiba, and DC Coast). We like Acadiana because it is very close to home and serves satisfying comfort food in a beautiful dining room. I've traveled to New Orleans seven times this year on business and have had my share of Louisiana comfort food. I think Acadiana compares favorably to the best I've had in New Orleans.
The dining room at Acadiana is decorated in soothing blue tones and dotted with sparkling chandeliers. The room has an almost underwater feel to it. I bet this is what the Little Mermaid's living room would look like if she hired the classiest of decorators.
The service has also been top notch on each of our visits. The last two times we had the pleasure of being served by Chuck who is charming and extremely knowledgeable about the menu. I highly recommend asking to be seated in his section.
You Had Me At Biscuits....
I often wonder why restaurants don't spend more time on their bread baskets. I'd rather not have anything on my table than be served cold hard bread with cold butter. When a restaurant actually puts some effort into the bread I remember it fondly. The biscuits that Acadiana serves before the main event are not only memorable, they keep me coming back again and again.
The biscuits are hot and flaky, and would be stellar on their own but are served with a pepper jelly/cream cheese concotion. A biscuit slathered with this cream cheesy-tangy goodness is my idea of perfection.
We started off with the roasted sweet corn and blue crab soup and the charbroiled oysters. The soup is hearty with just the right amount of spice.
The oysters are perfect for non-oyster people because they are covered in butter and cheese and charbroiled. They are served with flaky french bread that you can use to sop up the extra butter in the oyster pan. I suppose this would be a good time to mention that the food at Acadiana is very, very rich.
For my main course I had the pan crisp roasted duck (covered in a cane syrup pepper jelly glaze and served with dirty rice and collard greens). Honestly, I ordered the duck because I hoped the pepper jelly glaze would be as tasty as the pepper jelly sauce served with the biscuits. I was not disappointed as the duck was tender and the glaze caused the duck skin to bake to a crackling crisp. The only drawback was that I don't like eating a lot of skin and once I removed the skin the duck lost a lot of the flavor. The dirty rice and collard greens were traditional versions of these classic Louisiana side dishes.
On Chuck's recommendation B ordered the grilled gulf redfish (served with seafood jambalaya risotto and smoked red bell pepper sauce). Redfish is something that I've seen on most menus in New Orleans but is a rare find in D.C. Acadiana puts a modern spin on the classic dish with the addition of the jambalaya risotto. The dish received rave reviews from both B and my mom who also ordered it.
After all of this rich food we really didn't have room for dessert but couldn't turn down the pecan tart with praline caramel and milk chocolate ice cream. It wasn't the most memorable dessert I've ever had but the presentation was very nice. Acadiana also presents little rocky road squares with the check. It is the nice touches like these that make Acadiana such a warm and welcoming place to dine.
Second Thoughts from B
As J said, we've been to Acadiana a few times and they consistently deliver interesting and boldly favored dishes that we enjoy every time. There are quite a few very good modern restaurants in downtown and to be honest, they sometimes run together. What makes Acadiana stand out is the exceptional service and the biscuits that are easily the best bread dish in DC (Oya's might be a close second but aren't as distinct). Also of note is Acadiana's brunch which we tried last year and would recommend.
In addition to the biscuits, the charbroiled oysters are a very memorable dish and one that I look forward to whenever we make plans to go to Acadiana. I have a special weakness for anything with butter, garlic, and cheese, and these oysters have each in spades. As for the redfish, the risotto alone is worth a trip, but that is not to say that the fish isn't great as well. It is cooked with a homemade blend of 9 spices that proved so pleasing that we asked what it was made up of. Salt, paprika, white pepper, black pepper, some spices I don't remember, and like everything else at Acadiana, a pinch of Southern love.