Mar 03, 2020 02:25PM
By Niz Proskocil
Tucked in Miracle Hills Plaza at 114th Street and West Dodge Road, Acadian Grille is a cozy Cajun-style spot serving from-scratch cooking that’s worth seeking out. Owner Dan O’Brien opened the restaurant in summer 2018. He launched a second location last fall in the former Kith & Kin space in the Dundee neighborhood. The menu is similar, with the addition of a few new items.
On a December visit to the original west Omaha location, the kitchen turned out some tasty interpretations of Cajun and Southern specialties made with care. If there’s a problem at Acadian Grille, it’s deciding what to order. The menu is packed with a wide variety of tempting Louisiana favorites.
The crab cake appetizer provided a delicious start. Served two to an order, the hefty cakes embody both soft and crispy textures. They’re full of crab meat, held together with just enough filler, studded with peppers, and drizzled with a house-made Creole sauce spiked with mustard. A colorful salad served with the crab cakes featured spinach, red cabbage, julienned carrot, and shaved Brussels sprouts tossed in a creamy mango dressing. Although we liked the sweet and tangy dressing, there was so much of it that it overpowered the other ingredients.
There’s nothing to complain about with Acadian Grille’s take on gumbo. Bite-size pieces of tender dark-meat chicken, andouille sausage, and peppers mingle with fluffy white rice in a deeply savory broth. The thick stew-like soup is highly seasoned but not too spicy. A hunk of French bread, lightly toasted and buttered, accompanied the dish—perfect for sopping up every last bit.
The restaurant’s red beans and rice comes with andouille sausage links, peppers, white rice, and red kidney beans cooked until creamy and tender. The dish is smoky, slightly spicy, and totally comforting.
Just as good is a plate of shrimp and grits: a heap of thick, creamy grits topped with perfectly cooked shrimp. Bell peppers, onion, and cubes of tasso—a smoked seasoned ham—round out the satisfying entrée.
We also liked the shrimp po’ boy, available with a choice of blackened or fried shrimp. The latter version featured large, lightly breaded shrimp on crusty French bread with a warm, soft interior. Red onion, sliced tomato, and lettuce added a cool, crunchy element, while a drizzle of creamy remoulade brought a subtle spicy kick.
Catfish po’ boys also are available. Both sandwiches come with a choice of side dishes, ranging from collard greens and dirty rice to cornbread and coleslaw. Soups, salads, and burgers are on the menu as well, and there are meatless options for vegetarian and vegan customers.
Acadian Grille’s take on mac and cheese is a major upgrade from the stuff in a box. It’s prepared with cavatappi (corkscrew pasta) covered in a rich, creamy gouda-based sauce. It’s available as a side or an entree, complete with tasso.
There’s a decent selection of beer, a few cocktails, plus red and white wine available by the glass and by the bottle. The beer list includes domestic staples Coors Light and Miller Lite, along with a selection of IPAs, stouts, and beers from Louisiana craft brewery Abita.
The restaurant, which has an open-kitchen design, is small but not cramped. The atmosphere is casual with simple wood-top tables, concrete floors, and bluesy rock music pulsing out of the speakers. A wall mural depicts a map of the Louisiana bayou region and essential ingredients of Cajun and Creole cooking. Service during our dinner visit was friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable.
For dessert, we couldn’t pass up the bananas Foster, a New Orleans classic. Big enough for two or three people to share, the decadent treat featured bananas sliced in half lengthwise, coated in a buttery, cinnamony sauce infused with banana liqueur and rum. Vanilla ice cream melted into the sweet, boozy goodness. We loved the contrast between the cold scoops of ice cream and the warm, sticky sauce.
If you want to eat good gumbo in Louisiana, it’s 1,000 miles to get there from Omaha. Or you can just go to Acadian Grille—it’s hard to go wrong with their Cajun culinary creations.
Visit acadiangrille.com for more information.
This article was printed in the January/February 2020 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.