L’Acadiane is in the former Bailey’s Chocolate Bar space, which Dave Bailey has transformed into an attractive and homey Cajun restaurant (the Chocolate Bar has moved upstairs). The front room houses a lively bar and some cafe tables; in back is a cozy dining room with exposed brick walls, tall windows, and a charcoal and yellow color scheme. The menu is small but appealing, with a half-dozen each po’ boys, starters and entrees, along with several sides and desserts.
Do not miss the Gumbo ($5), one of the best I’ve tasted. It had more subtle flavorings than most and a great, creamy texture. Baby shrimp and thin andouille slices provided the heft. A Lump Crab Cake ($11) was about what I expect in areas outside the East Coast. It had a fairly heavy coating and slivered crab rather than chunks of crabmeat. The flavor was good, however, and the presentation was superior, with colorful orange segments, avocado slices and a bright remoulade.
Blackened Shrimp ($10) was tasty, if predictable, with several nice-sized shrimp coated in a Louisiana rub of paprika, cayenne, salt and other spices. I liked the accompanying cucumber ranch dip, which cut the heat nicely. Smoked Pork Ribs ($8) were tasty in a sweet, sticky way, but came lukewarm (as did the shrimp!). The accompanying bits of pickled watermelon were very interesting, super-sour and laced with fennel.
In the entree category, Shrimp + Grits ($16) was quite good, served as a large plate of perfectly creamy, cheesy white grits piled with medium shrimp that had been dusted with Cajun spices. A rich roux-based gravy topped it, along with slivered onions and red peppers (here again, used judiciously). The flavor was good—nothing unexpected, but solid. I’m still puzzled by its menu description, though, which describes the grits as a “crispy grit cake.”
Another winner was the Blackened Acadian Redfish Po’ Boy ($13), a well-constructed sandwich of romaine lettuce, the tasty fish fillet and a welcome punch from pickled red onion. Cucumber ranch provided a thin, mayo-like layer, and the whole dish worked well together. A generous portion of house-made barbecue chips came with it, and they were pleasantly un-greasy.
The real sleeper of the evening was the Cornbread Waffle ($4), a large Belgian waffle with the light graininess of cornmeal—delicious, especially served with honey butter. Another side, Sautéed Greens ($4) was just OK, with the bitter flavor and watery texture of traditional Southern greens.
Don’t pass on dessert here. The Whiskey Caramel Baked Alaska ($10) may sound strange, but it is amazing. It’s actually a large cube of bread pudding (doused with spirits) topped by fluffy, sweet meringue. Inside the conical topping is your choice of ice cream. The combination of sticky meringue topping, bread base and cold ice cream is inspired! The Beignets ($8), served that night with coffee dipping sauce, also were tasty.
the scene | Bustling neighborhood bar and eatery
the chef | Stephen Trouvere
the prices | $5-$20 starters, $9-$13 sandwiches, $15-$19 entrees
the favorites | Gumbo, Cornbread Waffle, Whiskey Caramel Baked Alaska, Blackened Acadian Redfish Po’ Boy
food • ŏ • lō • gy
baked alaska | A dessert in which cake and ice cream are topped with a thick layer of meringue and browned with a brûlée torch
redfish | A term that applies to various species, including red snapper and rock fish
blackened fish | A method chef Paul Prudhomme originated in 1981 that made him an instant success. It involves a very hot skillet, in which highly seasoned fish fillets are sauteed (blackened) to create a spicy black sear.
1915 park ave. | 314.875.0108
Pictured at top: Shrimp + Grits: Shrimp with onions, peppers, creamy red gravy and crispy grit cake.