Vegetable lovers alert! Café Atchafalaya, a charming Garden District restaurant in an old corner house, is a paradise for taste buds tickled by southern-style produce. Not to slight such extraordinary entrees as pork chops with andouille and cornbread stuffing and a Jack Daniel’s apricot glaze or fried chicken livers with pepper jelly, but what makes our hearts go pitty-pat is the long list of vegetables posted every day on the blackboard.
In the Spring, you will choose from a list such as this: fried corn fritters (loaded with sweet kernels), turnip greens, candied yams (so spicy!), field peas, carrots, blackeyed peas, creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, baked Creole tomato, butter beans (velvet-textured!), Creole succotash, and a baked Vidalia onion so soft and sweet that it had nearly become syrup. To season the vegetables, each table is arrayed with a half-dozen bottles of hot sauce (habanero, jalapeno) and peppers; and all meals are accompanied by baskets of wonderful cornbread, both plain and jalapeno/cheese flavored.
Did we mention that fried green tomatoes are always available? And that the bread pudding is dark and crusty, served warm under an intoxicating spill of cognac sauce?
We won’t continue singing hosannas to the menu, which to our appetites is endlessly fascinating. It is sure-enough Creole, but the repertoire and the spices in each dish seem nicely tempered by a Dixie gentleness atypical of New Orleans’ more explosive meals.
"Eight wonderful vegetables. On the left are Creole baked tomato, corn fritters, candied yams, and succotash. On the right: black-eyed peas, butter beans, a Vidalia onion, and turnip greens."
"New Orleans chefs are proud of their bread pudding. We've eaten none better than Cafe Atchafalaya's, which is topped with a high-proof cognac sauce."
"Like the food, the chalkboard menu at Cafe Atchafalaya is colorful and lovely to look at."
"Inside the front door, you will see pans of cornbread on the counter, ready to be cut for dinner-table breadbaskets."