Anyah Dembling, an energy writer by day and gastronomic explorer by night, lives and eats on H St, NE.
Having never been to New Orleans, I can’t claim to know an authentic “Big Easy” experience. I can’t describe the taste of crawfish from the bayou. I can’t wax poetic on the ripe smell of bile mixed with the hot, sticky remnants of a Hurricane spilled on to the bricks of Bourbon Street. Nor can I enchant you with a blurry story about beads, jazz musicians, and a night turned to morning that I barely remember.
But I can tell you that Tru Orleans Restaurant & Gallery makes me want a little bit of it all.
The H Street-NOLA transplant, Tru Orleans, opened its doors at the corner of 4th and H St, NE this weekend. The establishment is co-owned by partners Tru Redding (of Public Bar downtown, Sushi Rock in Arlington, Va,) and new-to-the-scene investors Brad Howard and Hans Christensen. The two-story restaurant was developed with authenticity in mind, as both the recipes and artwork hail straight from Louisiana.
The fare, influenced largely by the Easts—a third generation Louisiana family—is dominant in seafood, but ranges from items like red beans and rice with Andouille sausage, blackened tilapia, barbecue shrimp fettuccine, fried gator tenders, and Bayou crabcakes. The standout appetizer for this N’awlins newbie was Val’s Barbecue Jalapeno Shrimp, a Cajun-seasoned sauteed jumbo shrimp wrapped in bacon, topped with scant slices of jalapeno, and a dollop of cream cheese to counterbalance the salt and spice. Until July 25, the restaurant is operating with a limited menu, but will soon include a raw bar and additional fried fish platters. Tru Orleans will also serve breakfast
and lunch and menus can be found here.
As far as drinks go, the cocktail menu offers a variety of New Orleans and Southern favorites including draft beer from Abita (a Louisiana brewing company), a rendition of Lynchburg Lemonade and three different Hurricanes—split into “categories” differentiated by alcohol content. Their Sazerac was well made and employs the 1859 recipe published by the Sazerac Coffee House in New Orleans.
Tru Orleans is one of the larger spots in the neighborhood, with outdoor patio seating, a full bar and dining room downstairs, as well as additional seating and a smaller bar upstairs in the open terrace. The restaurant is planning to feature live jazz music in the future as well.
Tru Orleans is undeniably filling a void in the west end of the H Street corridor. Its themed concept offers a lively and vibrant atmosphere and the opportunity to get a taste of the south, away from the pavement of northeast D.C., to the bubbling excitement of New Orleans.