January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants

Jeff Tunks's latest restaurant conjures up old New Orleans.

No. 99: Acadiana

If you’re due to get your cholesterol checked, get it done before dining here, because if what goes in your mouth isn’t buttered, it’s probably been dipped in the deep-fryer. Even the salads, piled with cheese and ham, are calorie bombs.

The latest project from chef Jeff Tunks, who’s previously tackled pan-Asian and pan-Latino, is the cooking of Louisiana. The dishes are often faithfully detailed: Crawfish étouffée was learned at the hand of pastry chef David Guas’s Cajun-country aunt; fried green tomatoes with tangy shrimp rémoulade resurrect a noontime staple at the legendary Uglesich’s; po’ boys come on classic Leidenheimer rolls.

But you won’t need lots of napkins to eat one. The lovable messiness of the sandwich has been edited out, just as elsewhere the heady spicing that gives Cajun its kick has been dialed back. Like the carpeted dining room, which eschews the garden-party colors of New Orleans’s Commander’s Palace in favor of a more subdued mauve and gray, it all feels a little cool and corporate. Still, it’s tough to resist the buttermilk biscuits with pepper jelly and house-made cream cheese or the star entrée, shelled shrimp doused in a “barbecue” sauce that could only have come from the Crescent City—a sinfully rich pool of butter, rosemary, and Worcestershire.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.