TSchaad

Bayou (Formerly The Rookery), 25th and Penn in West End

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Got this notification from Thrillist on the planned opening of The Bayou in DC.

"Taking over the old Rookery space, Bayou's a two story New Orleans-themed jazz-taurant rocking vintage black and white pics of the Big Easy and a large mural of a jazz band on Frenchman St. under chandeliers. They're hawking everything from po' boys to "St. Charles Fried Oysters", and live-tuning light jazz Thurs-Saturday evenings, followed by later-night rump-shakers like "Old Man Brown" and "Buster Brown and the Get Down", which actually isn't the name of the band, but rather instructions to Buster Brown while walking some of NO's rougher neighborhoods.

The Deep South crew is hosting a party for the Saints playoff game Saturday, so check the menu here beforehand at bayoudc.com"

TSchaad

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The Deep South crew is hosting a party for the Saints playoff game Saturday, so check the menu here beforehand at bayoudc.com"

Does the Deep South crew know that "The Bayou" name has a meaning in DC that has nothing to do with New Orleans?

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I believe they had an opening party last weekend with Glen David Andrews and his band.

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Does the Deep South crew know that "The Bayou" name has a meaning in DC that has nothing to do with New Orleans?

Thanks for bringing that up. The thread title made me do a double-take.

"jazz-taraunt?" This concept sounds like a theme-park, no doubt bowdlerized version of New Orleans musical culture that will be knee-deep in frat boys & the blondes who love them. :) But, as always, I will be happy to be proven wrong here.

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I grew up in New Orleans with a mama who is an awesome cook, and I am naturally skeptical about New Orleans/Cajun/Creole restaurants outside of Louisiana. Too often "Cajun" is interpreted as lots of salt and cayenne, and rarely is creole interpreted at all. So we hit up Bayou on Penn for lunch Saturday with open minds and came away happy. First of all, they had Abita Strawberry in bottles. Points for that. We sat outside on the small patio which is very pleasant. The downstairs doesn't scream "hey we're trying to fake New Orleans" and I didn't experience the music scene so I can't comment.

Started with fried green tomatoes, which is NOT a classic New Orleans or Cajun dish (more like Mississippi or Alabama southern). The tomatoes came topped with a set of fancy greens and goat cheese and rested on remoulade. All in all, too much "stuff" for me. The cup of gumbo was OK - very light colored which signals that the roux was not cooked properly. Nevertheless, it had lots of shrimp and crab (though none of the promised andouille) and would pass muster at a second-tier place in the south. The oysters Rockerfeller were very tasty, but there were more a combination of Bienville/Rockerfeller than just Rockerfeller. The oysters were covered with a mix of greens (spinach, I think), parmesean, cream, bread crumbs and well browned. I would order this again.

The real winner was the catfish poboy, dressed (lettuce, tomato, mayo, pickle). Very well executed - bread lightly toasted for structural integrity, fresh fish with a cornmeal coating fried crispy but not dry, shredded lettuce (in New Orleans we SHRED our lettuce. Leaf stuff is too slippery), the right amount of mayo...the whole thing just worked very well and this would complete at any neighborhood joint in New Orleans.

The entrees didn't seem very tempting but who cares after that po-boy? I would happily return for the other poboy choices and a cold Abita. I saw a bloody mary served with a picked okra, so that would tempt me too!

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OK, following up to my first post about Bayou on Penn. We went on New Year's Day because we wanted to watch the Saints with like-minded fans, and also because I wanted a po-boy. The Saints were awesome, as usual, and the crowd was really into the game, which was fun.

CAVEAT: It was New Year's Day - I suspect the place was a bit understaffed, and several times the chef himself brought out food to help the staff keep up - and I give any place a serious break on a day when most staff and customers are hung-over. But...the po-boy wasn't as good as on my first visit. This time I tried the 1/2 and 1/2 - shrimp on one side, oysters on the other. The seafood wasn't hot, as in perhaps not freshly fried. The shrimp, especially, were tasty, but would have been better just out of the fryer. There was too much mayo for my taste. Next time, I ask for mayo on the side. The bread is still spot on, which is very important.

The side of red beans and rice was dangerously delicious. The serving seemed kind of small until we dumped it out on share plates...and it was quite enough for two as a side. Oh, my. Full of smoky sausage (and maybe some ham hock), rich and meaty without overwhelming the essential flavor of the beans. It was drier than my Mom's version, as she tends toward soupy, but I would get this again happily. Yum.

We were able to linger for the whole game and though the place was busy, there was never a demand for our table. The staff seemed fine to let us linger, and the cold Abitas kept coming. Definitely a fun place but I hope that on a normal day the po-boy is back to its original glory.

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When all the Easter brunch reservations were booked until well past 3:00pm we set out to find a less conventional Easter destination. We ended up with reservations at the Bayou and I, for one, walked away pleasantly satisfied. Unlike dcandohio I am not from New Orleans, but have visited many times and am a devoted fan, if not connoisseur, of its cuisine and this place was very nice.

Atmosphere gets points for letting you know you're in a New Orleans "jazztaurant" without slapping you in the face with Disney-esque theme overload. Downstairs they have a nice simple bar that I'd be happy to belly up to for happy hour on any given day, and the seating upstairs was comfortable, if a bit tight.

Got there about a half hour before our friends and the wife and I decided to get a couple of drinks and enjoy the patio. The weather Sunday morning was gorgeous and althoug the patio is ok, I did have one minor issue - it was covered. Sounds silly to whine about a covered patio, but here's my thought - when it's nice out the wooden roof, sides, etc hide too much of the sun and when it's cold or rainy out you wouldn't want to be outside anyway, so I'm not really sure what purpose is served by the full-on covered patio. Just my two cents.

More importantly, the bloody mary was very tasty. I was distracted while the bartender made it so I didn't see whether the mix is bought or home made but it had a nice flavor that so many "tomato juice plus tabasco" bloodies are missing. One tip - it wasn't spicy at all, so if you like it hot ask for it, or ask for a bottle of tabasco on the side to heat it up to your personal preference. The pickled okra is a great touch, and made me wonder if they ever mix it up with spicy pickled green beans like I've had in several bloody marys in New Orleans. Either way, I'm a happy camper.

I ordered the bayou benedict surf n turf which is a standard eggs benedict with tasso ham, "cajun" hollandaise (not sure what made it cajun, but it was very tasty nonetheless), and fried oysters. This was delicious. Everything in the dish was done properly and tasted wonderful, but I really must mention the oysters. The breading was light and crispy - not greasy at all - and gave just the right amount of crunch to balance out the soft creamy oystery middle. I am excited for the next time we go to this spot to have a shrimp and oyster po' boy which I'm sure will not disappoint.

I also could not resist from ordering a side of collards which were also excellent. Nicely smoky and not overdone or over seasoned. They had just the right amount of bite so you could still chew on them, and although I nearly always reach for the vinegar pepper sauce when eating collards, these did not require it.

I think one good sign of a restaurant is when your order for next time is already settled before getting up from your meal. The Bayou passes that test - One shrimp and oyster po' boy, a cold beer, and maybe a side of collards if the occassion calls for it.

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Met up with a friend here for lunch. The gumbo is delicious...very close to a mom version. Not particulary full of seafood, but the base is perfect. Not at all crowded on a Friday in Lent. This is a fine restaurant with reasonable prices and if you want a bowl of comforting southern love this is a great choice.

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Bastards Who Brunched

My young dining companion and I gave up after a futile search for parking in Georgetown (where we were heading towards Leopold), so we escaped and headed eastbound on Pennsylvania, only to notice The Bayou. Well, why not? Bayou serves brunch 11-3 Saturday and Sunday, and we got the two-top right by the host stand.

I was dying for a cup of Coffee ($3), and Bayou's is better than the norm. Our server told me the brand, but it was a name I didn't recognize, and I've forgotten it. Still, it's not the watered-down liquid you so often get at bar brunches - it's respectable coffee.

We ended up splitting most everything, including a side order of Jalapeí±o Cheddar Grits ($3.95), and Matt got a Marigny Po' Boy ($15.95) which was half fried shrimp, half fried oysters (you can also choose half catfish), lettuce tomatoes, pickles, remoulade, and the side of your choice - in this case, Collard Greens with Bacon (normally $5.95).

What I got sounds like a mess, but it wasn't at all. Grand Marshal Benedict ($19.95) was a variant on a classic Eggs Benedict: poached eggs on an English muffin, fried green tomatoes, Tasso ham, fried oysters (2), corn salsa, and Cajun Hollandaise - plus, some unadvertised home fries. It was a large plate, large enough so everything wasn't clustered together, and all the ingredients went together very nicely.

I would have cut the tomatoes a little thinner because they tended to dominate the Benedict, and I'd also add a couple less pickle chips to the Po' Boy, but other than that, this food was pretty much as good as you could possibly expect. I'm batting 1.000 at Bayou - I've been here several times now, and have enjoyed it each time. In fact, Bayou may be my favorite of Bo Blair's restaurants (which include Surfside, Jetties, etc.) - I'm not sure where Executive Chef Rusty Holman actually spends his time, but someone here is running a consistent kitchen.

Incidentally, Bayou gets added to our Half-Priced Wine Nights thread.

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Oddly enough Don, I had brunch here on Saturday and enjoyed it very much too. I started with a very good bowl of gumbo and had the Surf and Turf Benedict with fried oysters and tasso ham on English muffins and hollandaise. It was more than I could finish. Service was pleasant and unobtrusive. The food here has always been solid. It helps that they use OpenTable too.

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Since I moved to Foggy Bottom last December, Bayou has been within about a three-minute walk from home, but I hadn't been until last night, when I had dinner there with my sister. The food was good: We shared a plate of fried green tomatoes (conveniently, two thick slices, with dressing and garnish: hot, crisp, good); then my sister had the blackened catfish, which I didn't taste (I don't much like catfish), and I had the oyster po' boy, which was excellent. My sandwich came with two sides, and I chose the collards with bacon and the mac and cheese. The sides would have made a meal for a normal person without the sandwich. I tasted each, and brought the mac and cheese home; it was (and I hope still is) wonderful.

The really remarkable thing, though, is the half-price wine deal they have on Sundays. They have an extremely limited selection of wine, but every bottle is half price on Sunday, and the full prices are remarkably modest to begin with. Say what you will about Veuve Clicquot, but it's certainly pleasant enough to drink. Marcel's, a block away, offers it at $150 a bottle. On Bayou's list, it costs $90. And on Sunday, it's $45! That's basically on the low end of retail. Calvert Woodley asks $43 for a bottle currently, which is probably the least you'll pay for a bottle in a Washington retail store. And the bartender/wine manager was tickled pink that we ordered it; they obviously don't get a lot of champagne people in what is pretty clearly an Abita kind of place. The gentleman in question came over to the table, and started off by saying "About the champagne you ordered..." and my sister and I both assumed he was going to say it really wasn't $45, or they didn't have any, or some other kind of hedge or excuse not to serve it to us. But no, he said it wasn't quite as cold as he'd like to serve it, so if we didn't mind he'd put in on ice for a few minutes before he brought it to the table.

They made a lifelong friend of me, or at least a friend for as long as they're in business a block away from where I live.

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Bayou is a good place. I go there just for the fried oysters. Brunch is good,too.

Interestingly, they don't seem to have just a plate of fried oysters on their menu currently. There are fried oysters in po' boys, you can add them to salads, and they have a couple of eggs-benedict variants with fried oysters on their brunch menu, but it doesn't look like you could say "I'll have the fried oysters, please", which seems odd. I love a plate of good fried oysters. Do they make them off-menu for you?

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Interestingly, they don't seem to have just a plate of fried oysters on their menu currently. There are fried oysters in po' boys, you can add them to salads, and they have a couple of eggs-benedict variants with fried oysters on their brunch menu, but it doesn't look like you could say "I'll have the fried oysters, please", which seems odd. I love a plate of good fried oysters. Do they make them off-menu for you?

I thought I wrote this up a long time ago, either here, or here, but I can't find the review (this would be awhile before the "Bastards Who Brunched" review). From what I remember, I've enjoyed the fried catfish po boy more than anything I've had with oysters. Aha, here it is.

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Interestingly, they don't seem to have just a plate of fried oysters on their menu currently. There are fried oysters in po' boys, you can add them to salads, and they have a couple of eggs-benedict variants with fried oysters on their brunch menu, but it doesn't look like you could say "I'll have the fried oysters, please", which seems odd. I love a plate of good fried oysters. Do they make them off-menu for you?

Just ask for a plate of fried oysters. They give it to me every time.

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Just ask for a plate of fried oysters. They give it to me every time.

I just might do that tomorrow. Thanks!

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