Bardia’s New Orleans Cafe | Winter 2013
Bardia’s — What a terrific little find in the Adams Morgan area of Washington, D.C. What were the chances of having New Orleans cuisine in the middle of a hip, bar-laden, transitioning neighborhood in the nation’s capital? A stroll along 18th Street NW lead me to a small, colorfully painted, albeit in a need of a fresh coat, eatery. My 20-something year old cousin (a.k.a. “Just Call Her Fabulous”, “The Diva” and “The Shoe Shopper”), were on a late lunch/dinner quest. After taking a quick look at the menu displayed outside, we decided to give it a try. The charming owner, who later told us he’d been in the neighborhood for over 20 years, seated us at a table by the window facing the street. Watching passersby while having a meal — yes, this was a perfect front row seat.
Bardia’s Picture Gallery: Yes, it does look like this inside.
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Let’s talk about our meal…
The Diva had a Shrimp Po Boy. She made her decision before she even sat down. If there’s one thing The Diva likes, it’s bread, and fried shrimp with bread — priceless. She was gracious to offer me a taste — actually told her I was taking a sample, but whatever. The shrimp was nice and crispy. The bread was fresh. She also had Cajun fries, but I didn’t taste these. I trusted her when she said, “I love skinny fries,” and proceeded to chow down.
So what did I have? The Crawfish Étouffée. I mean, what else would I have? If they screwed this up, they’d simply have to re-think their purpose, close up shop and return to Louisiana. I wasn’t disappointed. If I have the opportunity to have crawfish, I’m all in. In the spirit of disclosing more information that you really want to know but I’ll tell you anyway, there are a few other foods I love from Louisiana — crawfish boils, crawfish etouffée, gumbo, jambalaya (hold the sausage and all meats), beignets, and bananas foster (this, by the way, is bananas!).
Sidebar: I’ve never been to New Orleans. “Huh?” That’s right — I’ve never been to Louisiana, much less New Orleans. I have, however, had my share of authentic fare from born and bred New Orleanans who were not “chefs” but true “cooks”. These weren’t fancy-pants people whipping up “fusion” dishes. They were rootsy people. So, one day when I get to New Orleans (and it will happen), I shouldn’t be a fish out of water.
So, anyway, back to the crawfish etouffée… It was rich. The sauce was flavorful and great aroma. The crawfish was fresh (I could tell) and nicely cooked, not rubbery or hard (poorly prepared, overcooked or under-cooked shellfish grieves me). Rice, a natural accompaniment for this dish, could have been a bit more fluffy for my taste. I love fluffy rice, but this is a personal preference. Most of all, the etouffée shined.
Then there was dessert…Beignets. Wow. So fresh — puffy, with a hint of sweetness, which was separate from the overt sweetness of the powdered sugar. It was beautifully fried, not dripping with grease. Powdered sugar over freshly fried beignets…*takes deep breath*… I need a moment of silence. Truly, they are the best I’ve tasted. Hmmmm…makes me want to go to New Orleans even more now.
Sidebar: I loved the beignets so much, I went back to the cafe and ordered a to-go box of six, which I happily shared with The Diva’s roommate. You’ll see both pics below — the order with dinner; the order in the to-go box.