Item 67 on the Omnivore 100 list is “Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake,” but I have to say – this is one place where I take issue with the list. I grew up in Miami and had family in New Orleans, so I’ve bought many a pack of churros while stopped at a streetlight on Calle Ocho and eaten my fair share of beignets at Cafe DuMonde. Calling elephant ears and funnel cake the same thing is one matter, equating them with beignets and churros simply because they’re variations on fried pastry is just…. wrong.
I leave you to your own devices to find an elephant ear; the circus comes through town on a regular basis and you have a decent chance at any street fair of finding a booth selling the drizzled fried dough. Churros we might re-address later – feel free to share any local location you think is worth out looking into.
For a beignet, however, my devotion to you, constant reader, is such that I compared two locations where you can try one of the few Louisiana exports to surpass zydeco.
My first local sampling of a beignet (pronounced ben-yay, as in, yay! yummy!) was a month or two ago at PS7 during restaurant week. The copy of their desert menu online doesn’t even call them beignets – they merely refer to a donut with chocolate and raspberry sauce. Whether this represents an actual change in the item or a dumbing-down for the creole-challenged I can’t tell you, but calling a beignet a donut is sheer insanity. If nothing else, when was the last time that something you bought at Dunkin crunched?
If you’re doing to pay $7 for a beignet, PS7′s rendition is not a bad way to do it. The raspberry and chocolate sauce aren’t an accompanyment you’re going to find at most New Orleans eateries, but they were by no means unpleasant. Cafe DuMonde would have used a finer sugar, but the not-quite-powdery sugar on PS7′s rendition was just fine. I wouldn’t make a trip there just for them but I wasn’t disappointed by them either.
The beignets at Bardia’s are cut from a simpler cloth, and covered with the powdery confectioner’s sugar you’d expect if you’d ever chased a few down with some overly strong coffee at Cafe DuMonde’s. Delivered to you still warm with an excellent crunch and a tender inside, this is a beignet worth the trip. Bardia’s even offers you a feel that evokes the Quarter, though on Wednesday night it lacked any of the screaming children and obnoxious tourists I expect in New Orleans proper. And at $3 for a plate it’s the French Quarter to PS7′s Garden District.
The Omni100 list would have you think that fair food is close enough to a beignet that you can cross this item off your list if you’ve had a sweaty man hand you a paper plate before you got on the ferris wheel, but it’s not true. A proper beignet cruches and melts in your mouth in a way that a pedestrian donut never will. Take a trip out to Adams Morgan and Bardia’s and leave room after your po’boy for a few of these.
Bardia’s New Orleans Cafe
2412 18th St, NW
Washington, DC 20009