725 N 114th St
Cost: $115 for three drinks, two appetizers, three meals and shared dessert
Reservations: Not accepted, but they will send you three doors down to Bushwood Lounge and call when your table is ready – which we did.
Greetings, eaters and readers!
Here at The Good Bite, we are implementing a new way to involve you — our lovely readers! Once a quarter, we will invite a guest to join us on our foodventure. And our honorary first Quarterly Guest was my husband Jeremy.
Knowing both Martha and Jeremy have an affinity for cajun food (I do not), I channeled my inner Christmas Spirit and chose a place I knew they’d both love: Acadian Grille. (Martha plays a tiny violin for her Majesty the Culinary Martyr!)
With a nod to Louisiana, they featured Abita on their drink menu. Both Jeremy and I obliged with the Turbo Dog and Purple Haze. The Dog is a dark brown ale and had a chocolate toffee taste. The Haze is a raspberry lager that had a light fruity crisp flavor. I think we’ll be buying both in the future. Martha had the Dark Horse Chardonnay, which she quite enjoyed. Especially that “curvy like a lady” glass it came in.
Thinking about to her own trip to The Big Easy a few years back, Martha was eager to order some Boudin Balls for the table. A Cajun culture staple, Boudin is pork sausage with rice and seasoning usually stuffed into a casing. In the case of this hot, yummy, crispy-creamy-dreamy appetizer, the sausage is removed from the casing and deep fried. Served with a Remoulade sauce (another Cajun staple), they were delicious.
Has anyone ever told you that gator bites taste just like chicken? They were right. Other than a slightly chewier texture, these Gator Bites tasted no different than breaded chicken. We’re okay with that. They came with a poblano fig jam that added a nice, sweet contrast.
Martha was pretty set on getting any version of Blackened Chicken pasta Acadian had on their menu. And despite being tempted by most of the menu once she got there – she stuck to it. She was particularly excited to experience the Pappardelle (the paper thin ribbon of noodles featured in the dish). While it wasn’t her favorite version of the dish she’s ever had, it was still comforting and yummy. It wasn’t “too” hot, but pasta lovers know this: their five pepper cream sauce is exactly that – creamy and full of diced peppers that fill every bite.
Something about fried fish inside toasty bread calls my name whenever I see it on a menu. And my Catfish Po Boy did not disappoint. I’d never had catfish before, but it tasted like any ‘ol regular white fish to me. Both the remoulade and agave nectar drizzles added a tasty zing that really came through each bite. My only wish was that it wasn’t so messy to eat.
My side of choice was the Gouda Mac. It was just okay. It didn’t have the “bite” that you expect. Unfortunately for Acadian, I’d just had the best gouda mac at The Stokin’ Goat a month before. And I’m quite confident all future mac ‘n cheeses will pale in comparison to the Goat’s.
Our server recommended the Gumbo to Jeremy, who was debating that or the jambalaya. I’m fairly certain this dish changed his life. He even said, “I’m so excited we live by this place. I’m going to get gumbo all the time now.”
“Eww,” I said after I tried a bite. I’ll never understand the love for cajun flavors — so my opinion doesn’t count here. But since I’m writing, you get to read it anyway.
Jeremy also got the Gouda Mac for his side. You’ll notice in the pictures that his arrived with a much fancier presentation than mine did. (Not cool!) But even so, he agreed that the mac could have used more flavor. Despite our opinions, we sat close enough to the open-air kitchen to observe their cooks were constantly serving this dish up all evening.
“Is bananas foster French?” We didn’t know the answer at the time, but we did know it was going in our mouths. Ya’ll, IT WAS SO GOOD. The key, we discovered, is the caramelized sauce you scoop with each bite. We positively recommend Acadian’s Bananas Foster to all banana-ice cream-caramel sauce-lovers alike.
Fun fact: In the early 1950s, New Orleans was the major port of entry for bananas shipped from Central and South America. Owen Brennan, owner of Brennan’s Restaurant, challenged his chef, Paul Blange, to include bananas in a new dessert. Bananas foster was born and people everywhere have been enjoying it ever since.¹
Some things to consider if you’re wanting to discover a jazzy new flavor like what the Acadian Grille has to offer:
While dining, we overheard the owner tell another table they operate on a 20-30 minute wait most every night. Since they don’t take reservations and we found our way there on a Saturday evening, our wait was a few ticks north of 30 minutes. But, in good neighborly fashion, they’ll encourage you grab a drink at another bar a few doors down and they call you when space opens up.
The Acadian Grille is somewhat small for such an ambitious menu. A sign by the door mentioned a max capacity of less than 60 and the interior is wall-to-wall tables. In our unofficial opinion, we also think the small and always-full-of-patrons space — partnered with the open kitchen/prep line — made for a warm visit. The thermostat happened to be behind our table (which was also a few steps from that hot steamy kitchen) and it hovered at 77/78 degrees the whole time we were there.
But we noticed a very steady stream of dozens of people who seemed to order for take-out/pick-up. We thought that spoke to the success of the menu and community support of the place. Overall, we’d recommend visiting on a night where you’re in no rush; do enjoy the neighboring bar; and come back for some authentic Cajun. And if you find it’s your kind of flavor, go the “take out” route there forward – like Jeremy swears he’ll be doing now he knows it’s exactly on his way home from work.
If you’re a fan of Cajun flavors, we think The Acadian Grille is worth your time; they seemed to be doing them exactly right. And, we dare say, even if you’re not a fan of such dishes (coughcough me!) – we think the menu will still offer something you’ll quite enjoy. We’re confident the Bananas Foster alone is worth it!
Martha, Jaclyn and Jeremy
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¹ “Traditional New Orleans Foods: Bananas Foster,” NewOrleans.com, Accessed December 2018