After a disastrous jaunt to TruOrleans last month, I was hesitant to brunch at any D.C. restaurant that claims Cajun.
But, it was Arielle’s birthday, and Miss Party Girl was desperately seeking bottomless. So, for her Epic Memorial Day Birthday Weekend, after she had donned her flippy floppies at the New York Beach Bar and danced her way around various H Street NE bars, it was only natural that she wipe up the birthday hangover with a Big Easy brunch.
Or rather, I was the hungover one. And she was blessedly boozy. Yes, in immaculately rare (sarcasm) brunch form, I slumped down in the booth and let my Bitches enjoy the $2 mimosas and amazing (looking) brunch dishes. Le sigh.
It was a festive atmosphere at Bayou, which is right on Pennsylvania between where Foggy Bottom ends and Georgetown begins. Being too hot for a patio brunch—though they do have a lovely patio indeed—we grabbed the biggest table inside, underneath the draped Mardi Gras beads, colorful chandeliers, and various New Orleans knick knacks.
Our waitress slid over to the table and started cooing. I’m not kidding. We were nothing but “honeypie”s and “sweetheart”s and “sugar”s the entire brunch. Even before she saw the enormous SLR camera make its debut at the table, she was gushing lovingly about the brunch dishes and feeding us booze.
And booze we had. The mimosas are a lovely $2 a pop. The Bayou Bloody? A tad bit more at $8, but worth every penny. You choose your preferred level of spiciness, and it comes with a twist of pickled okra as a garnish. And there was most definitely $8 worth of vodka in that drink. Woof.
Our motherly (read: touchy-feely) waitress also whipped up the birthday girl her very own champagne cocktail, with a cherry on top! Need beer? Don’t worry, Louisianans, there is every flavor of Abita available on tap. Liz and Fontaine will be running to Bayou.
I ordered a coffee, which was rather weak. No better than gas station coffee, really, and the waitress indicated that they only carried cream and no milk, which is unusual. I didn’t bother getting a refill.
We started with some apps for the table. First, the Fried Green Tomatoes, which were … just awesome, people. A beautiful dish, with roasted red pepper aioli, corn salsa and goat cheese. We were so impressed by these that we demanded them on a Benedict. More on that later.
The second app we tried were the Boudin Balls. I wanted these because they seemed plain and non-offensive for my poor tummy. They were plain, indeed—and a little dry, even. The Creole dipping sauce on the side didn’t do much to help them.
We also tried the barbecue pork drumsticks, which weren’t as much of a hit as the Fried Green Tomatoes, but will still beautifully presented with crispy onions piled on top. They were piping hot and dripping from the bone. Delish.
We finally ordered our main dishes, after much discussion (instructing, rather) around the table to the new Bitches in attendance that you can’t order the same thing as someone else. That’s the rule. And yes, it’s because I said so. And yes, I want to try everything.
For entrées, there were three different Benny options, which makes me particularly happy. Nonetheless, I let my Bitches sample them and I went for the most alcohol-absorbent dish, a Breakfast Po’Boy. The sandwich is made with authentic Leidenheimer bread—a major (necessary) plus for a Cajun place.
Inside, scrambled eggs, sautéed onions and peppers, scallions, bacon, cheddar cheese, and cajun seasoning. Extremely filling, but not good if left for more than 15 minutes. Eat that sucker while it’s hot.
Brooke had the Fried Green Tomato Benedict, which wasn’t on the menu, but it should be. We had a similar dish at Columbia Firehouse, but this Benny was far, far superior. The tomato was done perfectly, which meant it didn’t fall apart when you cut into it. Same tomato that was on the appetizer. Both amazing.
At first, I thought the Benedict eggs were slightly over-poached, but because the yolk wasn’t runny, the entire thing was very neat to eat. And the yolk was still soft. The hollandaise added some richness, but not so much that I felt gross walking away from it.
It was served with a side of home fries, which were good but nothing to write home about.
The Benedict Surf & Turf contained two poached eggs, tasso ham, Cajun hollandaise and two fried oysters. For a lofty price of $17 and the promise of authentic Cajun cuisine, I thought it would be far more interesting than it was.
In fact, the surf and turf wasn’t really much different from any regular Benny I’ve had elsewhere. The portion size wasn’t great, the seafood wasn’t generous, the turf was just two tiny pieces of ham. All this and it was the most expensive brunch dish on the menu.
Tammy, wanting to satisfy her sweet tooth, ordered the Bananas Foster French Toast. It was big, and topped with just a few dark rum sautéed bananas but tons of maple syrup.
Not to be Bitchy (oh, hell), but I prefer to pour my syrup on my French toast. This came overloaded, which just makes it seem soggy and unfresh to me, even though it likely isn’t.
The prettiest brunch dish on the table was by far the quiche. While the actual quiche itself is teeny-tiny, it’s topped with a big piled of balanced crab meat on top.
It was made with Gruyere cheese and spinach. There were no complaints from this Bitch, and it was gone within minutes.
One thing to note about Bayou: They won’t accept a huge number of credit cards, so be prepared with some cash if you are going with a big group.
The Bitches say: C+ Dishes are pretty, but taste and quality is hit or miss. However, this is on the better end of Cajun brunching in D.C. And the drinks are great.
2519 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Bayou serves brunch Saturday and Sunday.