Da Bayou brings authentic Cajun and Creole to Akron
words and photos by Tyron Hoisten
Real foodies have the keen ability to walk into a restaurant for the very first time and instantly get a pretty good idea of what they’re in for. When I walked into Da Bayou, I was greeted by an irresistible aroma and an inviting feng shui. I knew, instantly, that I’d be pleased.
Da Bayou, may be one of Akron’s best kept secrets—but not for long. It’s a bar and restaurant that offers, as you may have guessed, authentic Cajun and Creole cuisine. This style of flavorful comfort food emerged from the birthplace of jazz, Louisiana. It borrows cuisine styles from France, West Africa, Italy and other regions, and blends them to create a food experience like no other.
Da Bayou offers an array of classic New Orleans dishes like gumbo and jambalaya—with prices ranging from $10 to $27. The well-rounded menu, paired with the hefty prices, leaves little doubt about authenticity and quality.
Their signature meal is “da BOIL”, which, according to the menu, is ideal for groups. With this meal, you get a choice of crawfish, shrimp, crab legs, scallops or lobster prepared and served New Orleans style by the pound, accompanied by sides of andouille sausage, red potatoes and corn on the cob. While I imagined this would’ve been delicious, I chose instead to go with shrimp & grits, with a side of collard greens. I also ordered mac & cheese with lobster, because I just couldn’t resist. For dessert, I chose pecan pie.
While I waited for my meal to hit the table, I tapped my toe to the bebopping of the New Orleans style jazz tunes heard faintly over the laughs coming from the bar. I couldn’t help but to people-watch. I saw a couple who looked like they were on date. I saw men in suits who looked like they had just left the office. And I saw a few folks eating in silence at the bar, enjoying the game.
What became apparent to me was that the establishment has a subtle coolness, making it the perfect destination for a romantic date, a business meeting or a relaxing getaway.
The shrimp & grits, came rather quickly. The presentation was first-rate.
The grits were thick, but creamy. The perfect consistency. They were topped with sautéed peppers and onions, and just the right amount of tender shrimp. It all culminated to create a buttery, doubly satisfying dish. I ate it slowly, because it deserved to be savored.
Just as I was nearing the end, the mac & cheese with lobster was finally brought to my table, along with several apologies for the delay.
The cheese on top was lightly crusted and still sizzling. It was garnished with a pinch—emphasis on pinch—of lobster. It looked exquisite, but unfortunately, it didn’t taste that way. It was cheesy and smooth, but very bland. It was a major let down, especially for $7.
The sweet and savory pecan pie, made up for the tasteless mac & cheese. The pecans with brown sugar and butter filling worked well enough together to make each bite seem like an event.
As I pulled out my wallet to pay the bill, I realized that I never got the collard greens. The waitress, who was very apologetic, quickly retrieved them from the kitchen.
The collard greens had an earthy, deep flavor, which I suspect was due to them being cooked slowly. They were very good, but a little on the spicy side. Some of that spice would’ve been more appreciated if it were in the mac & cheese.
Though my meal made it to my table in a disorderly fashion, I was still very satisfied. Da Bayou brings an authentic bite of Louisiana all the way to Akron, and I‘m glad they did. I strongly encourage you to check them out soon. You and your taste buds will be pleased.
1562 Akron-Peninsula Road
Tyron Hoisten is a writer, a speaker, a minister, a humorist—in short, he is many things, but most notably, he’s bald.