I want to start this review by saying I hate Adams Morgan. Strike one: Pedestrians here don’t give a damn about your car and neither does the neighborhood because parking is non-existent here. Just because sustainability is a better option doesn’t mean that all cars are going off the streets today. This place is urban Pleasantville. Strike two: I’ve lived and driven in this city for a long time. Today was the first time I ever tapped a car just to get into a parking space (sorry Malibu!) because it was so tight. Strike three: After finally finding a parking space, I step out of my car and hit something way squishy with my boot. I’d seen the parades of toy poodles all over the place, so I assumed it was dog poop. Oh no. Dog poop would’ve been a pleasantry. I look down only to find that I’ve stepped on either a large flattened rat or small flattened opossum. Either way, freaking gross! I cringe all the way to the restaurant where I hope to find at least the tiniest patch of grass along the way to wipe my foot. No such patch ever comes, unfortunately, and I’m forced to drag my boot across the gravel. Grr
In my mind I’m just looking forward to food. Mardi Gras was this week so I decided to get some of the authentic stuff from Bardia’s New Orleans Cafe in Adams Morgan, which I mentioned in the post on celebrating Mardi Gras in DC. God I wish this place was somewhere else, because I doubt if I’m coming back.
When I walk in, there’s no hostess at the door, so I assume that there’s self seating. As I walk in further the person behind the bar waves me into a seat near the back. I’m grateful that there’s no wait. She puts a menu in front of me and proceeds to serve other guests. I give the menu a once over and I’m at least satisfied that every potential cherub of cajun cuisine is on the menu. I of course aim for the po boy which comes with a side of cajun fries but I really want to try a good cup of gumbo on this dreary Adams Morgan day. (Strike 4 is blocking the sun out on a Saturday. Never again!) I keep my fingers crossed that my waitress will be amenable to this change. When the person that waved me in came over to take my order (I realize now that she is the lone hostess/server/bartender/bus boy/hopefully not chef), I run down my request in earnest. She gives me a curt shake of the head to say Hell no, and I settle for the po’ boy and fries and cup of soup. I know, I know, cry me a river.
As she takes my menu I take a better look around. The music over the system is jazzy and upbeat, typical New Orleans brassy stuff. The space is pretty small, which I assume is a consistent feature among AM restaurants. I take a look at the drink menu and ask myself, Why can’t I ever get a Hand Grenade outside of New Orleans??? I see that there’s a Hurricane amongst my choices, but I refuse to tempt fate twice in a row this week (bad cocktail experience at Sign of the Whale). Since my catfish appears to be cooking itself in the kitchen, I settle in to read my book of the week and sip my water, which appears yellowed, but I’m gonna assume its the murky “glass”.
First came the gumbo with a side of baguette. It was a good size, which was a relief t0 me because I only got the cup. You’d gawk at the inconsistent definition of “cup” these days. The roux was thick and spot on. It could’ve used a bit more kick to me, however, but you may be a fan if the more subtle smokey flavors. I myself prefer a direct kick in the face I’m my spices. The andouille was well seasoned at least.
Quick side note on gumbo. Since when do I have to choose which meat I put in my soup? Where I’m from, gumbo is everything you can think of but the kitchen sink! Times sure have changed. I regret not trying the alligator now.
Next comes the catfish po’ boy. And I don’t care what anyone says. The cockroaches of the sea are still a tasty fish. This particular fish tasted of shake and bake unfortunately, but I won’t dwell. The winner on this plate was easily the cajun fries. I demolished those in one fell swoop, using the remoulade sauce as my dip. The fries were sparse however so eventually I had to go back to the po’ boy. At least the baguette was fresh?
As I sat and stared at the other half of the sandwich and left over old bay from the fries, I checked into foursquare and saw that newbies get a free dessert here! Hells yea! Nothing saves the day like beignets! I looked to my right at the table over and saw a group crowded around a plate of beignets. No one was touching them. They just sat staring. Finally one of the braver souls split one in half and proceeded to nibble. Wth is wrong with these people? The table behind them was also annoying me. It was a double date it seemed and they didn’t even appear to like each other very much. One of the couples had brought their baby and the couple without a baby stared with hatred at the couple with the baby. I feel as though this place is a microcasm of life in AM. People without babies hating people with babies. And hating beignets.
Oh and these people also hate spicy food. I mean seriously. If you come to a Cajun restaurant and tell your server that you “don’t want it too spicy” just SLAP yourself! Now!
Okay I’m done. Obvi I’m not a fan of Adams Morgan but it doesn’t take away from the the fact that this makes a good place to eat. But I wouldn’t socialize with the other local patrons who probably prefer their Thai noodles mild and their Maker’s Mark watered down. Okay, I’m done, for real this time.
Score: 3 out of 5
Mostly for the sucky neighborhood. Oh, and my beignets tasted as if they’d been fried in the chicken grease. Blech!