An exciting new seafood restaurant is slated to arrive in the Second Ward this fall. Acadian Coast will debut in early October at 2929 Navigation Blvd., partner and director of operations John Avila tells CultureMap.
Originally, the location had been slated to be another outpost of Memphis’ Corky’s BBQ, but those plans changed when Corky’s first Houston-area location in Katy struggled and ultimately closed. Avila, best known for his barbecue restaurant El Burro & the Bull and the Henderson & Kane general store, explains that he became involved in the project after being connected to Corky’s franchisee Bruce Gingrich.
“He had an idea to do a Cajun concept,” Avila says. “I thought we could do a little better. I’ve come on board to help him out with it.”
Enter Acadian Coast. Slotting somewhere between casual establishments like BB’s Tex-Orleans and more elevated restaurants like Brennan’s or Eunice, the restaurant's menu will offer an expansive, historical look at the dishes people might have created as they made their way south from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
The space, a stand-alone white brick building in a newly-constructed shopping center, will feature an expansive outdoor patio with a stage for live music a large, LED screen for showing games and other special events. Avila adds that the project is both on-schedule and under budget.
“I didn’t want to be another red-and-white sign Cajun concept,” Avila says “I wanted something a little nicer and to reach a slightly higher price point on some of the things we’re doing.”
To help him achieve this vision, Avila recruited executive chef Jean-Philippe Gaston, the veteran Houston chef whose resume includes Haven, Kata Robata, Izakaya, and Cherry Block Craft Butcher & Kitchen in Bravery Chef Hall.
The chef tells CultureMap that he’s been excited by the research he’s done into the Acadians. He envisions a menu that’s grounded in Gulf Coast seafood like oysters and shrimp with touches of wild game and other elements people won’t expect from a restaurant associated with Louisiana’s culinary traditions.
“If we’re going to use the name ‘Acadian Coast,’ we need to emphasize where it came from,” Gaston says. “It has a lot of French influence . . . There’s a lot of wild game, elk and stuff like that, to very French techniques of stews. As it came down and people were changing, they started adopted what we now call Creole. Some people went to the islands and brought African influences.”
One dish Gaston says he’s considering is a hybrid of traditional gumbo and chicken and dumplings. Another is a potato stuffed with pork that’s almost a variation on a pierogi.
At the same time, the restaurant will offer more familiar fare, too. Avila’s vision includes a raw bar, grilled oysters, and boudin balls.
In the morning, the restaurant will open for coffee and beignets. In addition to the traditional version, Avila says he’s working on filled varieties such as chicory-chocolate, smoked-salted caramel and apple, and bananas. Creole fried chicken with beignets could find its way to the brunch menu.
Trying to serve frozen margaritas across the street from El Tiempo and the Original Ninfa’s would be quixotic at best. Instead, Acadian Coast will look to New Orleans with drinks like frozen hurricanes, Moscow Mules, and mint juleps.
Taken together, the mix of elements sounds far more compelling than a barbecue restaurant that couldn’t find its footing locally. If all goes according to plan, Acadian Coast will be a vibrant new addition to all of the other development happening in the Second Ward.