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Posted at 2:49 PM ET, 01/ 7/2011

Something for the weekend: New Orleans tunes and eats at Bayou

By Fritz Hahn

It was out with the old and in with the new on New Year's Eve in Foggy Bottom, as the members-only Rookery bar was reborn as Bayou, a New Orleans-themed bar and restaurant that features live bands, a menu stuffed with po' boys and fried green tomatoes, and a new drink list heavy on Hurricanes and Abita beers.

Bayou, which opened to the public last night, will be an interesting place to watch in coming weeks. While the low-key space has interesting chandeliers, walls covered with large mirrors and some New Orleans-themed art and antique prints, the twin focal points are the kitchen and the upstairs stage.

I can't claim to be an expert on New Orleans cuisine, but I can say the po' boys are excellent. The half-and-half mixes oysters and fried shrimp on a foot-long baguette, "dressed" with lettuce, tomato and mayo, and it's impossible to put down. As delicious as it was, I have to admit I was jealous of a friend's bbq shrimp po' boy: A hollowed-out roll stuffed with shrimp "barbecued" in true New Orleans style: sauteed in lemon, garlic, butter and herbs. Based on one after-work sandwich, we're both itching to come back for shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes and fried catfish po' boys.

To drink, there's a full line of Abita beers, produced right outside New Orleans, and a cocktail menu that nods towards Big Easy classics like the Hurricane and the Sazerac. The Sazerac (whiskey, absinthe and bitters) was decent, but it doesn't touch the versions poured at PS 7's or the Passenger.

Unfortunately, these New Orleans classics aren't an option at the weekday happy hour, which offers $2 PBR and Budweiser cans and $4 rail drinks from 4 to 6:30. You can get $3 Abita beers during New Orleans Saints games, starting with Saturday's playoff against the Seattle Seahawks, but at other times, expect to pay $5 per Abita and $8 per cocktail.

Upstairs, one of the Rookery's bars has been removed to make room for more tables and chairs, and a new stage gives performers more prominence. Live music is featured Thursday through Saturday nights: jazz musicians from Howard University play from 7:30 until around 9, and the evening's featured act takes the stage around 10.

If this weekend's schedule is a good indicator, the headliners will be a mix of touring New Orleans artists and local cover bands. Saturday sees the Honey Island Swamp Band, a rootsy combo from New Orleans that blends R&B and blues into funky party jams, and Friday features Old Man Brown, a seven-piece Baltimore band with a Southern funk and rock edge. Expect to pay a cover of $5 to $10 for out-of-town acts; shows headlined by locals will be either $5 or free. There's no charge to drop in early and catch the live jazz.

By Fritz Hahn  | January 7, 2011; 2:49 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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Comments

Is there any connection to the old Bayou club (in Georgetown) that shut down in the 90s?

Posted by: monica_amarelo | January 7, 2011 5:05 PM | Report abuse

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