Restaurant dishes

First bite: Houston’s new restaurant offers Creole flavors

After a few weeks of cocktail and happy hour service only, Acadian Coast officially opened for dinner. Located in the East End at 2929 Navigation, the restaurant now brings Acadian and Creole flavors to an area long known for some of the best Mexican food in town.

The restaurant is a partnership between Jean Avila of Henderson & Kane general store and Bruce gingrich of Corky’s barbecue. Chief Jean-Philippe Gaston helped in the development of the first menus, but evolved; Avila is now in charge of the kitchen. The concept combines seafood from the Gulf Coast with the flavors of the Creole country of Louisiana and Acadia of Canada, while using the culinary traditions of the southern United States. To match the dishes, the cocktail menu features drinks inspired by New Orleans.

The Acadian Coast bar. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

The menu is currently focused on seafood, but there are plans to add hearty meat dishes in the near future. Avila said sourcing high-quality game meat has been more difficult than expected, so some of the ambitious items that were planned, such as the elk rib rack, are now temporarily on hold. That said, Duck Confit with Dumplings and a rabbit dish will be added soon. Avila expects the menu to change with the seasons.

My party of three arrived on Tuesday evening for a reservation on the terrace. It was below 60 degrees and the heaters they ordered hadn’t arrived yet, so we opted for an inside cabin instead. My daughter and I ordered cocktails from the classic menu. I chose a seasonal Gin-tonic and she ordered a Pimm Cup. My husband opted for an iced tea, which arrived with only sugar available as a sweetener option, which was surprising. Both cocktails were refreshing and very enjoyable, but purists might wonder if a Pimm’s Cup with Luxardo maraschino liqueur added or a gin and tonic dosed with Braulio and Vermouth count as classic interpretations.

Our selection of cold seafood dishes arrived with the cocktails: raw oysters on half-shell and raw snapper. The oysters were very fresh and were served with mignonette, cocktail sauce and crackers. The crudo seemed a bit bland even though it was topped with herbs, red onions, avocado, and a honey-citrus sauce. Then was a heirloom tomato salad with burrata, crispy basil and lemon herb dressing. It was bright, alive and appreciated by all.

The ancestral tomato salad from the Acadian Coast. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

Our crab cakes and the shrimp brochette were the first hot food to arrive. Crab cakes were the undisputed table favorite, served on a lemon dill aioli. Although advertised on the menu as being made from giant chunks of crab, the crabmeat was mixed well with breadcrumbs so that there were no huge chunks visible. The shrimp skewer was served on a skewer over a bed of dirty rice, with crispy pieces of bacon as a garnish rather than wrapped around the shrimp as expected. Having said that, the dirty rice was excellent and we all really enjoyed the presentation. We had the appetizer version (5 medium sized shrimp for $ 9), but there is also a starter option.

The Acadian Coast seafood platter. Courtesy photo.

For the entrance, we opted for the seafood platter that comes with catfish, shrimp, oysters and a soft shell crab. All fish and seafood are fried and served with potatoes and coleslaw. We replaced the oysters with additional shrimp with no problem. The platter was generously loaded and everything tasted fresh, crispy and delicious. We enjoyed two additional cocktails with this course: one frozen ginger mule and one Lily flower. Both were good, but the seasonal gin and tonic was my favorite drink of the night. Other choices of appetizers were fish okra, shrimp and cheese grits and one strip.

Other bar options include a large selection of craft beers – on draft, bottled, and cans – a small offering of French wines by the glass with a Californian cabernet, as well as several other cocktails. Avila says the wine list will expand soon and mentions a newly discovered Texas rosé.

The Acadian Coast cocktail menu offers something for everyone. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

Happy hour runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, offering discounted prices on drinks with recommended small bites from the menu, as well as a charcuterie and cheese platter. There are also $ 1 oysters for Sunday happy hour. Beer prices start at $ 4 per glass, while wine is $ 6, and frozen and on tap cocktails are $ 8. Acadian Coast has a good sized patio with indoor and outdoor bar seating. Live music on the patio is part of the ambiance, as the restaurant has a permanent stage to accommodate a roster of scheduled musicians. Two fireplaces offer nominal heat, but additional radiators have been ordered and should make the space more pleasant during the colder months to come. Avila said the frozen drinks had been a huge hit during the warmer early days, with the fall flavors of Milk Punch being crowd favorites.

The donuts from the Acadian coast. Courtesy photo.

We finished our meal with donuts served with two dips, pink berries and chocolate chicory. It was a perfect end to the evening and easy for three to share. Other dessert options include a Three-tiered chocolate pie, Strawberry Cream Bread Pudding, Sweet potato pie and one Lime Ice Cream.

Live music on the terrace of the Acadian Coast. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

The Acadian Coast is currently open Tuesday to Thursday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 3 p.m. to midnight and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Reservations are recommended. Lunch hours will be added soon and donut and morning coffee service will follow.

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