4 Fleur
EntreePrice-28
BreakfastNo Breakfast SundayNo Breakfast MondayNo Breakfast TuesdayNo Breakfast WednesdayNo Breakfast ThursdayNo Breakfast FridayNo Breakfast Saturday
LunchLunch SundayNo Lunch MondayLunch TuesdayLunch WednesdayLunch ThursdayLunch FridayLunch Saturday
DinnerDinner SundayDinner MondayDinner TuesdayDinner WednesdayDinner ThursdayDinner FridayDinner Saturday

Atchafalaya

Uptown: 901 Louisiana Ave. 504-891-9626. Map.
Nice Casual.
AE DC DS MC V
Website

ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
Atchafalaya may be the ultimate New Orleans restaurant, at least for the younger half of the gourmet world. The food is great, inspired by the traditional ingredients and flavors but without more than a handful of classic Creole restaurant dishes. The place is an old neighborhood joint much in need of thorough restoration. But the prices reflect that. Instead of lunch, Atchafalaya offers a first-class brunch almost every day of the week. Even the restaurant’s motto–“New Orleans’s Only Five-A Restaurant”–is clever. The only drawback is getting a table–never easy when you need one.

Free-form crabmeat raviolo.

Free-form crabmeat raviolo.

WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Near the foot of Louisiana Avenue–neither in the Garden District nor what most people think of as Uptown–Atchafalaya cooks so much better than it looks that most first-timers leave raving about the place. Despite the name, it’s only mildly Cajun in its flavors. The dishes sound vaguely familiar, but in most instances you have not had them before. The raw groceries are of fine intrinsic goodness. And the service style, the wine list, and even the bar are unexpectedly sophisticated.

Fried green tomato and crabmeat.

Fried green tomato and crabmeat.

WHAT’S GOOD
The owners have deft palates, but their aims were only fully realized when Christopher Lynch–the longtime chef de cuisine at Emeril’s–moved in and began polishing recipes. Let’s start with the shrimp and grits. Who doesn’t serve that these days? But I’ve never had better. Sauce, shrimp, and even the grits make a big statement. Same goes for fried green tomatoes with crab remoulade, stuffed quail, the not-so-basic filet mignon, the seafood entrees–pretty much the entire menu. Even the salads and desserts are more like those from a more auspicious and expensive restaurants.

Swordfish, a special at Atchafalaya.

Swordfish, a special at Atchafalaya.

BACKSTORY
The building has been a neighborhood restaurant since the 1920s, most of that time as Petrossi’s, a casual seafood house. It became a contemporary Creole bistro called Cafe Atchafalaya in the early 1990s. A string of owners, none of whom kept the style of his predecessor, handed the place off one after another. A memorably fine era was presided over by the late Iler Pope, who added Southern country cooking to the mix. The present Atchafalaya (they dropped the “Cafe” part in 2009) is owned by Tony Tocco and Rachael Jaffe, who are married to one another.

Atchafalaya-DR2DINING ROOM
The restaurant’s long history has bequeathed rare premises. A lofty ceiling, tile floors, an antique bar, and a short flight up steps to the building next door (an add-on somewhere along the way) create most of the look. Hanging fabric on the ceiling and a see-through wall connecting the two main rooms add further uniqueness.

REVIEWER’S NOTEPAD
More ruminations appear in our Dining Diary. Click on any of the dates below for those reports, each written a few days after a meal at Atchafalaya.
1/13/2015 ~

FULL ONLINE MENU

CafeAtchafalaya

BEST DISHES
Brunch
Eggs Treme (scrambled, boudin cakes, crawfish, hollandaise)
Eggs Louisiana (poached, crab cake, Creole hollandaise)
Huevos rancheros (eggs, tortilla, black beans, salsa, chorizo, avocado crema)
Duck hash, poached eggs, duck confit, blackberries, mangos, hollandaise, bacon vinaigrette
Jumbo lump crab “Louis” (salad of lettuce, tomatoes, hearts of palm, bacon, cucumber, deviled egg

Starters
Fried green tomatoes, crabmeat remoulade
Steamed Prince Edward Island mussels du jour
Free-Form crab ravioli, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, citrus beurre blanc
Yellowfin tuna crudo, avocado, jalapeno, spicy peanuts
Potato gnocchi du jour
Charcuterie board du jour

Entrees
Shrimp and grits
Sauteed drumfish, shrimp, clams, mussels, jumbo lump crabmeat, fennel, oyster mushrooms
Seasonal vegetable plate
Grilled pork chop, sweet corn, lima bean succotash, andouille-pork jus
Smoked grass-fed beef strip sirloin steak, foie gras and red wine sauce
Two Run Farms lamb meatballs, goat cheese mushroom polenta, tomato braised rapini

Desserts
Tiramisu
Seasonal bread pudding
Blue cheese flan
NOLA Irish Channel Stout chocolate cake

FOR BEST RESULTS
It doesn’t look like the kind of restaurant where you need a reservation, but you do. Take advantage of the drink-making abilities of the bartender, who is as original as the chef.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
Really, the place is in need of a lot of fixing, especially in its infrastructure. But a lot of customers find this sort of thing charming.

FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.

  • Dining Environment +2
  • Consistency +1
  • Service+1
  • Value +1
  • Attitude +2
  • Wine & Bar +2
  • Hipness +2
  • Local Color +2

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

  • Romantic
  • 25-75
  • Open Sunday lunch and dinner
  • Historic
  • Easy, nearby parking
  • Reservations accepted

 

4 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. Jim Fast on June 14, 2014

    Tom, please add me to whatever email list you offer. Thanks. Loyal listener. Jim

    • Tom Fitzmorris on June 14, 2014

      Subscribing is easy. You can get the Red Bean edition free by going to NOMenu.com. In the main menu near the top of the page, click on Welcome, then Subscribe Free.

      Or you can get the ad-free, more powerful Five-Star Edition by clicking on Subscribe or Renew from the same Welcome menu. The price for the Five-Star Edition is whatever you think it’s worth.

      Thanks for reading!

      Tastefully yours,
      Tom Fitzmorris

      P.S.: We do not use your email address for anything else, nor do we allow anyone else to do so. If you later want to get off the list, you can do so easily and immediately.

  2. charles Davis on October 7, 2014

    Living next door in MS my wife and I have been trying to hit as many of you reviewed places as possible. Had a convention there at the end of August so we had a week of marking restaurants off our list. Went to Atchafalaya wanting to get the Boudin stuffed Quail. I love quail and get it anytime it’s on the menu, only it wasn’t. Ordered something which was good, but I can’t recall what is was. After the meal we asked the waitress about it and she said she had not heard of it and it hadn’t been on the menu since she was hired. Great experience otherwise but wonder why they dropped it?

    Charles

  3. david the maitr' d on May 10, 2015

    had quail on the menu last nite — it is one of the many specials that chef lynch runs on a regular basis- it was delish– don,t know if this is same quail you are talking about tom but it shows up qute a bit in different forms– you know how chefs are always want to do something different and new

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