A couple of weekends ago several of my friends from college came to visit to celebrate my birthday and a friend’s birthday. This was a convergence of several major challenges which are sometimes faced when dining out in DC- 1). Find a fun but tasty restaurant to celebrate a special occasion 2). A place that takes reservations and for a decent-sized group (8 in this case) on a Saturday night and 3). Moderate prices.
Luckily Bayou on Penn was there to save the day. I had been to Bayou twice before for dancing and dessert, but not for a full meal, so this was the perfect opportunity. I started with the Pimm’s Citrus Cup, which unfortunately did not live up to my recent pimm cup at Policy. The grapefruit overpowered the cucumber, making it more bitter than cool and refreshing. We were served bread with a delicious butter, and our waiter was kind enough to give us all pickleback shots. Or unkind IMO, given that I am not a fan of pickles or shots, but others at my table were happy. Our meal did seem to take a little longer than I would have hoped, so that may have been the reason for the free shots.
For our entrees, J & I ordered the shrimp and grits and the Marigny
po-boy (½ and ½ shrimp and oysters) with sides of mac & cheese and collards (my favorites!). Interestingly, my po-boy was split so literally 1/2 was shrimp and the other 1/2 was oysters (rather than mixed together). Given the ginormous size of the po-boy and the generous offering of sides, I pretty much only ate the shrimp half. I forgot to ask for no pickle, but it was a subtle pickle flavor that went well with the slight spiciness of the remoulade. The collards were perfectly vinegary with ham mixed in, and the mac & cheese was creamy, but maybe not quite cheesy enough (my friend’s looked cheesier).
J’s take on the shrimp and grits (with Andouille sausage, tomatoes, sauteed spinach, and jalapeño cheddar grits): Usually, shrimp and grits come with about five shrimp, which always feels a bit low for me. In this case, they overcame that with slices of the andouille sausage on the side. The spicy gravy that accompanied it masked up the ‘grittiness’ of the grits, but made the dish a touch more soupy than I think any connoisseur of Cajun food would expect.
Check out Bayou on Penn, located at 2519 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest near Foggy Bottom metro. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday; Brunch served Saturdays and Sundays.