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Rave

Louisiana fish house with a capital touch

October 19, 2008
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WASHINGTON - One of the finest Cajun-style restaurants in the nation can be found in the heart of the nation's capital.

Jeff Tunks is the guiding force behind Acadiana, named one of the best new restaurants of 2006 by Esquire magazine. The chef, who with some partners also launched popular local restaurants Ceiba, DC Coast, and TenPenh spent four years in New Orleans and developed a strong affinity for the cuisine.

Tunks calls Acadiana "a contemporary interpretation of a Louisiana fish house" although the decor belies that sort of casualness.

Blackened yellowfin tuna, redfish, crawfish, and pork bellies are prepared in the étouffée manner, which in Creole means smother, and the signature New Orleans style barbecue shrimp, bathed in garlic butter and Worcestershire sauce, is worthy of its recognition as one of the top 25 dishes of the year by USA Today in 2005.

The restaurant's opening party on Sept. 12, 2005, was originally planned as a fund-raiser for Louisiana wetlands. But after Hurricane Katrina clobbered New Orleans in late August, Acadiana shifted gears and raised $27,000 in two hours with sales of po-boy brown-bag lunches.

Since then, its fame has grown as its gumbos, charbroiled oysters, Natchitoches meat pies, and specialty cocktails such as Tchoupitoulas daiquiris have won over the scores of senators, ambassadors, members of Congress, bureaucrats, and just plain folks who frequent this place for its elegant take on down-home fare.

Acadiana Restaurant, 901 New York Ave. Northwest, Washington, D.C. , acadianarestaurant.com, 202-408-8848.

JULIE HATFIELD

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