Atchafalaya, New Orleans

On a recent trip to New Orleans, KD, along with special guest Hungry Natives KC and VP paid a visit to Atchafalaya.  Named after the Atchafalaya basin, and located just a couple of blocks away from Magazine Street in the Upper Garden District, they specialize in contemporary Creole style cooking, and new, inventive versions of old south favorites.

Our team started with the Fried Green Tomatoes.  Accompanied by large, meaty chunks of Louisiana crab, they were served on a bed of greens with a drizzle of Remoulade.  Thick and plump, the slices of tomatoes were encased in a thin and crispy cornmeal crust and although fried, still retained a good deal of moisture, and were quite refreshing.  The lingering acidity and burst of vine-like flavor cut through the sweet, buttery crabmeat and rich sauce superbly.

Fish sandwiches in the North East usually mean a plain piece of fried cod (or some substitute) with tarter sauce and a side of coleslaw.  Atchafalaya’s Fish Sandwich consisted of seared tuna, local sprouts, tomatoes and a lemon caper aioli on an onion bun, served with the same onion and potato side as the Po Boy.  Seared yet still rare, the tuna had a light and fresh flavor that was heightened by the bright lemon and the briny capers. The onion bun was crucial to the sandwich, adding a bit of sweetness and onion bite.

The Duck Confit Po Boy was served on crusty yet soft bread with a side of thin-cut potatoes and caramelized onions and Creole Cole Slaw.  The meat was nicely rendered and extremely tender. It had a subtle yet complex flavor that wasn’t in the slightest bit gamey. The potatoes and onions had a flavor close to French onion soup, and were spiced up with the addition of pancetta and fresh parsley.  The Creole Cole Slaw was very vinegary, almost like sauerkraut, but with a sweet flavor and a mustard seed based dressing that really complimented the duck’s earthy meatiness.

Shrimp and Grits is a prototypical southern dish, but Atchafalaya switches things up by deep frying the grits, and pays homage to their Cajun roots with big head-on gulf shrimp.  Creamy and almost pudding-like on the inside and crisp on the outside, the grits had a nice contrast of textures.  Bacon can sometimes overwhelm a dish, but here it was used judiciously, adding just a hint of smokiness and saltiness to the grits.  The shrimp was cooked perfectly, with tails that separated easily from the shell.  When it came time to suck the heads, our team was treated to an intense, buttery shot of seafood flavor.

Atchafalaya has a full bar, including signature cocktails, such as the Isabelle, made from Plymouth gin, fresh grapefruit and lemon, Campari and Regan’s Bitters.

Cafe Atchafalaya on Urbanspoon

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Editor’s note ~ At Hungry Native, our restaurant reviews are by no means comprehensive, we may have visited a particular place many times, or perhaps only once. For the most part, we focus on specific dishes. We try to judge restaurants for what they are, rather than compare them directly. No review should be taken as a blanket endorsement of an establishment but rather a guide to what we found especially good or interesting.

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