You'd think a restaurant whose concept is authentic food from New Orleans -- a city consistently ranked as one with some of the best food and, unsurprisingly, some of the fattest people -- would be a sure-fire way to tantalize your tastebuds. But, sadly, my experience at TruOrleans on Sunday night had me putting on a pout and wiping off my tongue with my napkin.
New Orleans, my (fat) ass.
I have a deep and abiding love for H Street Northeast -- the bars there just have so much more character than other spots around town -- so when a friend suggested to me that we take a jaunt through the corridor and test out one of the newer restaurants to crop up, I was quick to give that plan the A-OK.
A flip of a coin (heads, we would go to TruOrleans; tails, the Big Board, which is another place I want to try) decided our fate, and into the bayou we went.
And that's really where the disappointments started. TruOrleans looks nice from the outside:
|Very reminiscent of the balconies in the French Quarter. I approve.|
... but on the inside, the art -- which, they claim, is straight off the streets of the Big Easy -- looks kind of like the shit you buy from the art aisle of Bed Bath & Beyond:
|A side-by-side comparison|
Anyway, decor aside, the whole experience was disappointing. I ordered a cocktail and was promptly told they didn't have one of the ingredients, which meant that that cocktail in addition to two other cocktails that included the same thing were not available. This was early in the evening on a very-dead Sunday -- perhaps I'm being persnickety, but there's really no excuse for being out of things at that time. And when I ordered a traditional Hurricane, it came in this cup:
That's plastic, with a screen printing of the ingredients on the back -- like a souvenir cup you'd get in Cancun. When my friend and I looked at it and went, "Oh, sweet, we get to keep the cup!" our server replied, "If you pay $3 for it."
That was a marketing mistake. Souvenir cups should be part of an up-sell when the server tells you about the drink, e.g. "And for $3 extra, you get it in a souvenir cup that you can take with you." If I don't get to keep the cup, it should be in proper glassware, goddammit. I don't want to drink out of cheap plastic crap when I'm paying $25 per entree.
Finally, the food was just... meh. We ordered the Gator Bites as an appetizer, mostly because I'd never eaten an alligator before. But that was a moot point because the meat had been fried within an inch of its life, eliciting from us the telltale "Tastes like chicken." If I'm ordering weird meat, I want to taste the meat, not the deep fat fryer. And my crawfish etoufee was just... soggy. And decidedly not delicious. Bleh.
I wasn't sticking around for dessert there, so my friend and I hightailed it down the street to Dangerously Delicious Pies, where I'm always happy inside my heart.
The point is, when you're in a big city like D.C. with so many restaurants to choose from, you can't afford to fuck up. If you're doing a shitty New Orleans impression, I'll just go elsewhere to get my Cajun/Creole/Southern comfort food fix. Like Bayou or Acadiana, for example. Those have good Cajun offerings. Or Pearl Dive Oyster Palace. The crawfish etoufee there was impeccable. And I've never had better shrimp n' grits than at Vidalia.
So, much as I love H Street, save yourself the trip and bypass this poor man's bayou.