Dish of the Week: Dauphine’s Gumbo Z’Herbes

Media Credit: Anna Boone I Staff Photographer

For my entree, I ordered the Gumbo Z’Herbes because of my love for the dish that I ate growing up in the south and have tried multiple times in New Orleans.

Nothing compares to the Creole and Cajun food of the south, but Dauphine’s is serving upscale takes on classic New Orleans dishes that will transport your taste buds to the French Quarter.

The sleek New Orleans-inspired restaurant is conveniently located just a few blocks from the Farragut North and McPherson Square Metro stations at 1100 15th St. NW, but it’s only open for dinner service starting at 5 p.m. daily and Sunday brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. From the raw oyster bar selection and fresh seafood to the gourmet Creole entree selections and New Orlean’s staple dessert beignets, Dauphine’s curates an impressive southern dining experience.

As soon as you step inside Dauphine’s, your eye will catch small yet charming decor details, like the restaurant’s name intricately embedded into the tiled floor in front of the host stand and a cow-hoof-shaped bell on the host stand to call for service if needed. If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you’ll also recognize the elaborate metal canopy framing adorned with hanging fern plants that surrounds the bar area, an architecture style familiar to the balconies of Bourbon Street.

The restaurant has multiple dining areas, all visible from the entrance because of the open layout and indoor balcony-style upper level. The raw bar and main dining area are to your left, and the main bar with high-top seating is to the right, with the upper dining room up a staircase in the back of the room. With the warmer weather, you can also take advantage of the two outdoor seating areas on either side of the restaurant’s ground level.

To start, I sampled some of the Orchard Point oysters ($3 each), sourced from Maryland, served on a bed of ice pebbles with cocktail sauce, vinegar, seasoned Saltine crackers and grated horseradish in an empty clam shell. They were ice cold and mouth-wateringly salty, and the accompaniments made each one go down smoothly. If you’re not a seafood lover, you can’t go wrong with the bread service ($10) which consists of freshly baked biscuits, sweet potato brioche and french baguette served with an addicting salted cane sugar butter.

Depending on your hunger level and budget, Dauphine’s menu features small plates and large plates on its dinner menu. In the future, I want to try the mirliton and pig ear salad ($13) with arugula, walnuts, Asian pear and aged gouda from the small plates or the dirty rice and duck stuffed quail ($33) with sweet potato, charred radicchio and pepper jelly jus from the large plates.

But for my entree, I ordered the Gumbo Z’Herbes ($14) because of my love for the dish that I ate growing up in the south and have tried multiple times in New Orleans. The waiter brought out a wide, shallow bowl and drizzled the potato salad lying in the middle with gumbo that he poured from a saucer. Eating potato salad in gumbo is a traditional practice in Louisiana. And like at Dauphine’s, it often takes the place of rice.

Dauphines’ gumbo has a dark roux base, a mixture of fat and flour that reaches a deep copper color when cooked together, and it’s filled with sauteed vegetables, collard greens and roasted pork bits. This departs slightly from gumbo’s usual preparation with smoked sausage and seafood but was equally enjoyable. The flavor of the stew was deeply savory without being overly salty, and the collards gave the stew a more vegetal flavor and complimented the smoky flavor of the pork.

When I took a bite of the potato salad with the stew, it was a cool, fresh contrast to the warm richness of the gumbo. And the green onions that topped the traditional mayo-based potato salad packed a punch of brightness and acidity. Of course, I asked for some Tabasco hot sauce – I like my gumbo extra spicy. Aside from the heat it brought, the acidity of the vinegar-based hot sauce added another dimension of flavor to the dish.

For dessert, I enjoyed the beignets ($9) which came with a shaker of powdered sugar. They were about three bites each with a crispy golden exterior and piping hot and doughy interior, making for a sweet ending to the meal.

If you’re looking to try a cocktail, Dauphine’s has plenty. If I were ordering, I’d want a sip of the hurricane, a take on a popular drink in New Orleans ($15) with tropical fruit sour, or the Dauphine’s martini ($16), scented with a warm spice called anise.

If you’re a southerner like me searching for some Creole and Cajun cooking, or if you’re just looking for a new gourmet dining experience, check out Dauphine’s.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.