YIWEN HU/THE HOYA Acadiana offers fresh, exceptional versions of classic Louisianan dishes like this delicious plate of southern shrimp and grits.
YIWEN HU/THE HOYA
Acadiana offers fresh, exceptional versions of classic Louisianan dishes like this delicious plate of southern shrimp and grits.diana

★★★★★

$$$$
It is not uncommon for cuisine distinctions to become over-generalized — the diversity of food found from region to region within a given country is rarely appreciated. Therefore, Spanish cuisine is equated with tapas, while Catalan food is neglected; Japanese cuisine is equated with sushi, while Okinawan food is overlooked. American food is stereotypically associated with burgers and fries; however, little is known — especially among internationals — about Louisianan food. The state boasts a rich culinary culture of unique dishes that are curious in their pronunciation, presentation and taste.

Acadiana Restaurant, an establishment that markets itself as “the only restaurant in the nation’s capital to serve Louisianan cuisine at a heightened level of elegance,” is tucked away in a relatively tranquil corner of New York Avenue. The restaurant features dishes created by chef Jeff Tunks, who takes pride in his years of experience working in New Orleans and advertises Acadiana as “the only contemporary Louisiana fish house in the D.C. area.”

For weekend brunch, Acadiana offers a prix fixe menu of three courses at a reasonable price of $29. Options include several of the restaurant’s signature dishes, as well as some classic brunch plates with a creative Louisiana twist. Enticing as the a la carte sides appear, ordering the full three-course meal will guarantee a full stomach. Given the high quality of the food, patrons will leave completely satisfied and content without springing for any of the extra items.

The brunch menu offers nine choices as far as appetizer selections, each distinctively different from the rest. Some of the more popular picks include the rather traditional Louisiana dish smoked chicken and andouille sausage gumbo, the innovative fried green tomatoes and the typical brunch starter — deviled eggs.

Our waitress, however, highly recommended the charbroiled oysters, which have garnered an incredibly high reputation among Acadiana’s guests. Indeed they should: Perfect to share between two to three people, the six oysters were presented in an enormous plate, each charbroiled with garlic butter and covered with parmesan romano cheese. Drizzled with a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon, the savory oysters tasted decadently flavorful.

On the other hand, the seafood crepe gratin, though slightly less lauded, was no less delicious. A thin layer of crepe encased melted cheese and an abundant amount of fresh shrimp, jumbo lump crab and Louisiana crawfish, all of which had a tender texture and a fresh taste. Despite the creaminess of the cheese, the crepe was nevertheless delightfully light.

The entree section of the brunch menu offers another 10 selections, among which the eggs Acadiana and the southern shrimp and grits enjoyed the most praise. The eggs Acadiana substituted the Canadian bacon, used in classic eggs Benedict, for Louisiana crawfish crab cakes. The quality of any crab-cake version of eggs Benedict depends upon the selection of fine ingredients and the execution of the dish itself. Acadiana excelled in both: The crawfish was so fresh that no trace of fishiness could be detected; meanwhile, its flavor did not eclipse, but rather complemented that of the tasso ham hollandaise sauce.

Another entree, the southern shrimp and grits, whet the appetite the very moment it arrived at the table, as the dish was pleasing to the eye with its vibrant colors. Like any other seafood dish at Acadiana, the freshness of the ingredients was proved by the chewy texture of the sauteed gulf shrimp. The cheddar cheese grits cake in the middle had an equally memorable taste, its cheesiness harmonized by the light, yet flavorful, sauce in which it sat. With a final touch of tasso ham, the dish had the magical ability to convert any patron into a devout follower of Louisiana cuisine.

Finally, diners get to choose from the five dessert options. Probably the most popular dish is the coffee-cognac creme brulee. This classic French invention took on a pleasant coffee flavor, thus neutralizing the sweetness of the sugar crust and the caramel cream. The French market beignets, another favorite of the patrons frequenting Acadiana, also trace their origin to the French heritage of Lousiana. This fluffy pastry made from deep-fried choux paste is commonly served with powdered sugar on top in New Orleans. Dipped in the complementary chicory coffee creme anglaise, which is a light pouring dessert sauce, the beignets would undoubtedly succeed in concluding the dining experience with an amazing end note.

With such a wide array of brunch dishes, each so exceptional that they are sure to meet even the highest of expectations, Acadiana truly deserves the popularity it enjoys. Every Sunday, the restaurant features live jazz performance — another incentive for anyone with a penchant for a relaxing, enjoyable and elegant Sunday brunch.

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