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Nov 14, 201310:23 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

A Visit To Atchafalaya

Fried green tomatoes at Atchafalaya

[Editor's Note: Robert Peyton is out this week, but please enjoy this blog post, originally published July 25, 2013.]

The subject of this week's entry is another one of those places I've been meaning to visit for a long time, but haven't. There are a number of reasons for my lapse – we have no shortage of restaurants in New Orleans, and certainly no shortage of new restaurants, which are what I tend to cover here. I also get about a half dozen press releases every day about one food-related event or another. That's no excuse for my failure to visit Atchafalaya until recently.

I place the blame for that squarely on my own narrow shoulders. I knew the place was there, but I just hadn't gotten the motivation to visit until my wife and I were trying to decide on a place for lunch that didn't require me to drive into the University section of town and didn't require her to come to the CBD. I think it worked out.

The restaurant is not on the beaten path; at least not the path beaten by average restaurant patrons. Atchafalaya is located not far from the Louisiana Street wharves, but longshoremen, trenchermen though they may be, are probably not the target demographic for Atchafalaya.

There are herbs and flowers growing in beds and boxes outside of the restaurant's entrance at the corner of Louisiana and Laurel. It's a cultivated look that's duplicated by the view when you enter. There's a sense of space that you get from the wall dividing the bar from the main dining room. The ceilings are as high as you'd expect in a New Orleans restaurant, and the wall between the rooms is made of mismatched window frames. It highlights the size of the room while keeping the scale intimate, if that makes sense.

All of which would be nice, but not particularly important if the food I had at Atchafalaya hadn't been so good. But it was, kids; it was. Check out the menus. Everything looks pretty good, right?

A special of watermelon gazpacho with crab was just a bit fizzy and delicious. Fried green tomatoes aren't exactly cutting edge, but when you top perfectly executed slices of unripe tomato with lump crab and a spot-on remoulade, you've got a classic. The duck confit was also done right; tender and unctuous over a white bean ragout with an onion marmalade that cut the richness a bit. I think it would have been a more effective dish had there been any of the rapini the menu said was included, but it was a good plate of food nonetheless. The free-form crab ravioli with a tomato buerre blanc and shiitake mushrooms was good as well, though at least in the portion served with the $20 three-course prix fixe menu it was a little scant. Rich, but a little scant.

That three-course menu is a good deal, by the way. Soup of the day or a house salad, a choice of a few entrées, and a dessert at that price, and with the quality on the plate at Atchafalaya is a no-brainer. There's a pretty good cocktail list and despite my handicap in these matters I thought the wine list was pretty swell too. I'd invite comment by those better equipped to judge, of course.

Go check this place out, kids, or I'll hunt you down and eat your pets.

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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene


Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived in New Orleans his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.




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