Sometimes I really miss the tastes of home. As an East Tennessee girl who lives in an area arguably either in the north or south (neither really, we’re the Mid-Atlantic, and yes, that is different from the south), I don’t usually get homesick for the area. But, sometimes I do miss the salty cured meats and buttery buttermilk biscuits that abound where I grew up. Since our visit to Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery, I’m proud to say that I now know the best place for biscuits in the Mid-Atlantic.
Chef Davis Guas has created in Bayou Bakery a charming establishment both chic enough to be called visually lovely and homey at the same time. The décor filled with Mason jar lighting fixtures and cozy seating is somewhere you feel comfortable having a brunch or meal, and you get really tasty food too. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly and Chef David is one of the coolest guys in the culinary world. His passion for creating food that is both full of flavor and crafted from some of the best food purveyors (the bacon from Benton’s Smoky Mountain Hams being one of my personal favorites) has created a menu with as much soul and personality as he has.
I can’t begin to talk about the food at Bayou Bakery without mentioning the biscuits. Biscuits are paramount to understanding any type of southern cooking from Cajun cuisine to mountain fare. I’m very particular about biscuits. Bayou Bakery has created a buttermilk biscuit with the perfect balance of tang and texture. We had biscuits several different ways: the BBQ pork biscuit (the sauce was a little too sweet for my taste) and also with smoked ham (delicious and from Edwards and Sons County Ham), but none of those could beat the flavor of the biscuit when paired with ham gravy. I don’t even like gravy normally. But, who could resist the delicate yet complex flavor of surprisingly silky gravy. Not me! I scraped my plate and was mad that RJ finished his without giving me an extra bite.
We also sampled some of the dishes that come to mind when you hear a name like Bayou Bakery. The beignets were pillowy light and covered with a dusting of powdered sugar that I was soon wearing as well. I’ve never had beignets and while I wasn’t prepared for the relative flatness of the cake, the combinations of textures soon won me over. The grits & grillades were also impressive. The brisket is tender and full of flavor and paired with a tomato gravy and creamy grits, you might it difficult to find a better brunch dish.
Bayou Bakery succeeds in making food that tastes like home, but better. Flavors are more nuanced, quality is better, but the food is still prepared with passion and served with ease.
Now, can RJ please go get me a biscuit and gravy! Baby G and Mommy are hungry!
Kari Liked: The buttermilk biscuits are insanely delicious- a perfect creation of softness and crispness. And the gravy!
Kari Didn’t Like: The quickness with which the gravy seemed to disappear from my plate!
At Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar and Eatery local chef David Guas is really serving up a down home taste of the Deep South. His Cajun creations are interesting and appealing, and in keeping with the low country origins of these dishes, most of them won’t break the bank either.
We started out with tastes of their biscuits and gravy, their bacon, and the grits and grillades (pronounced gru-yads). The biscuits were light and fluffy and the ham gravy that was their gravy of the day was so rich and complex. It was a joy. Chef David gets his bacon from Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Ham, and for good reason. It’s smoky and has a great bite. The grits and grillades are one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. The brisket is so tender it melts in your mouth before you start to chew. The grits are so smooth and delicious; I couldn’t get enough of them. The tomato gravy takes this dish to a level I didn’t even think possible. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
We followed that up with another round of biscuits (Kari got one with ham, and I opted for the BBQ pulled pork), an order of beignets and a spicy Mexican chocolate cortado. The ham is selected with the same care that was taken with the bacon and the grits and is just amazing. The BBQ pulled pork biscuit had a very different taste from what I’m used to when I hear the word BBQ. The pieces of meat were chopped very small, there was a lot of gravy, and it didn’t taste very smoky, in great contrast from the bacon and ham. That’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable, in fact I liked this saucy creation very much. The cortado was a taste sensation of heat and chocolate. I don’t normally like coffee drinks, so I was skeptical when Chef David recommended this drink. But there is so much zip from the chipotle and cayenne, and just the right amount of depth from the chocolate and cinnamon; it was a great drink to start my day. The beignets were a delight. To call them donuts doesn’t do them justice as they manage a sweet flavor all their own.
RJ Liked: Everything, but my favorites were the grits and grillades and the cortado.
RJ Didn’t Like: It was all great
Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery is located at 1515 N. Courthouse Rd. Arlington, VA 22201.
Bayou Bakery provided some of the dishes for this review, however all opinions are our own. All images belong to The He Said She Said Experience.