Bayou on the Hill, Bayou Bakery’s second location, is a charming two-level old building off of Pennsylvania Avenue by the Hill Center. Truthfully, I can’t recall if I’ve ever been to this part of town, which lies just around the corner from Eastern Market. As I walked up to the restaurant on a sunny winter day, I was utterly charmed by the old brick building and its outdoor space. Outside, young professionals—with their dogs, bicycles, and children—spanned the lawn in light summer coats. There was a certain vibrancy in the air that comes with the first signs of spring.
The building is, in fact, a historic carriage house sanctioned by President Lincoln. The space housed medical horses during the Civil War and has been restored by Chef David Guas and the Bayou Bakery team to its original details, with old textiles, exposed brick and stone, and feeding troughs.
Bayou Bakery does more than serve great Cajun food and coffee, as it appeals to the planner in us. Does your friend run late? Do they always invite an extra person at the last minute? Are you someone who invariably shows up early? Then Bayou is the place for you to brunch.
I was meeting up with my old work husband, Josh, and his future husband, Mike, on a Sunday, to catch up and hear about wedding planning. The duo turns to me for the occasional wedding guidance, as I am a bit of a stickler on etiquette. One place my etiquette doesn’t hold up? Timeliness.
If you’re early (like Josh), or your friend runs late (like me), you hop in line, grab a coffee and a biscuit to tide you over while you lock down some prime real estate at the first come, first serve tables.
As usual, I arrived late, so Josh was already in line making our first order (for cocktails), while Mike scouted a spot.
Steps from the Eastern Market Metro, we found ourselves wishing for warmer weather so we could enjoy the outside dining at either the tables or grassy picnic areas available. It can be mildly irksome to wait in line every time you want something new if you don’t get everything in your first order, or to order another drink, but Bayou doesn’t put you in a rushed mood. Line too long now? Wait five minutes and the staff will have whittled that line to a more manageable level. We appreciated the versatility of this spot.
The comprehensive menu is filled with coffee concoctions, unique cocktails inspired by the South, and tons of hearty Southern and Cajun fare. While Mike didn’t need caffeination, Josh ordered a latte. I was feeling funky, so I departed from my normal order of black coffee and went with the Buzzin’ Beehive Latte. Topped with the obligatory latte heart, this delightful coffee concoction was made with espresso, milk, honey, vanilla, and orange zest. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the espresso and orange flavor profiles, but they married nicely. The creamy and smooth milk-honey-and-vanilla brought it all together perfectly.
For cocktails, Mike ordered a mimosa, forcing me to make a departure from my norm and select the Gator Aid, which was essentially a boozy Arnold Palmer with sweet tea, lemonade, Bourbon, and mint syrup, served in a Mason jar. Served on ice, this was a sugar-y drink that would be perfect for a warm summer day. It went down easy—I had to watch myself to not get too tipsy at brunch.
A man’s man, Josh order the Bloody Mary, also served in a Mason jar with a trim of Creole seasoning, pickled seasonal vegetables, and olives. It was the perfect classic variation of a Bloody Mary, and he enjoyed it very much. He’s quite the cocktail connoisseur (read: booze hound), so his word means a lot.
Deviled eggs are my favorite—and the guys love ’em too, so we ordered them first. Then, we devoured them before I could snap a photo. Oh well—we were hungry, and they were delicious!
The guys are actually celebrating their joint bachelor party in New Orleans, and having visited before, they were far more informed on Cajun and Creole cuisine than me. They ordered the gumbo, served in the traditional style with dark roux, chicken, Andouille sausage, and white rice. Once they convinced me that dark roux was different than black beans—I am untrusting and loathe black beans—I gave it a try. The consistency of gumbo makes me pretty queasy—but I gave it the good college try and enjoyed the unique flavor.
The boys also ordered the biscuits and gravy, and it quickly became clear that there was no way this was going to be a healthy brunch—this was going to be a boozy, carb-filled brunch followed by a nap. Nowadays, it tends to be one or the other—if I eat a bunch of carbs and booze, I always need a nap. The classic biscuits and creamy sausage gravy were delicious—the biscuits were moist and crumbly.
They also ordered the potatoes. And I thought to myself, “Typical, boys, not a green vegetable in sight.” Then again, there weren’t that many greens on the menu to order to begin with! The potatoes, dubbed Bayou taters at Bayou, were skin-on, mashed red potatoes seasoned with rosemary, served with sweet onions and peppers, and covered in rendered bacon fat. These were, indeed, some hearty taters that packed flavor and coated your stomach.
As I’d already determine this was an indulgent brunch, I ordered my favorite brunch pleasure: a bacon-egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwich served on a biscuit. You can order bacon, ham, or turkey sausage with eggs and cheese in the “Biscuit By You” department, and I highly recommend you do so.
I should note that while this biscuit was good, they were not the best I’ve ever had. I did spend time in the South—go Tarheels!— and I have had many a biscuit. (Hello, Biscuit Kitchen and college hangovers.) The edges of this biscuits were a bit burnt—and crumbled off when I took a bite. I would have preferred a bit more moisture, as it detracted from the whole experience. The bacon, egg, and cheese inside were delectable, but then again when are those three things not?
Of course, we concluded with beignets—I used to have an addiction to them when I worked around the corner from the Clarendon location. Served in a set of three, the large, fluffy balls of dough, fried and covered in powdered sugar. Expectedly, I quickly became covered in powdered sugar as I bit into the warm, fluffy goodness.
All in all, Bayou Bakery is a charming spot with character, both in the history of the building, the Southern decor, and its adherence to Cajun cuisine. A few of the dishes could be perfected, but this may be a result of them churning out a high-volume of dishes all morning.
The Bitches say: B+ for delicious Southern food and Cajun fare in an order-up environment. We’d love a bit more attention to detail on execution and wow-factor on some of the dishes, however.
901 Pennsylvania Ave S.E.,
Washington, D.C. 20003
Bayou Bakery serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays and breakfast all week at the Capitol Hill and Arlington locations.