Tru Orleans: What Happened?

23 May

When Tru Orleans (400 H Street, NE) first opened in the neighborhood, we thought that it had great potential.  In fact, based upon our experience on opening weekend, we gave it a glowing initial review.  It had a great atmosphere, attentive service, and quality food.

Patio at Tru Orleans

Patio at Tru Orleans

Since it opened almost two years ago, something has happened.  The restaurant still has a very cool set up with its large patio and open second floor that has a New Orleans-esque railing and balcony.  However, it doesn’t have much else going for it anymore.  Over the past two years, our experiences have ranged from mediocre to just bizarre.  One time during brunch, we watched in horror as a server argued with a table full of customers for several minutes when one of them mentioned that he had messed up their order.  Another time during brunch our eggs benedict came out with an alleged “special” sauce on the side: it turned out to be caesar salad dressing.  Cajun food that was initially promising (if somewhat expensive) has turned into overpriced dishes that lack freshness and taste (based upon their website it appears the initial chef has departed).

Tru Orleans has also been accused of being a bad neighbor.  Frequently when one passes the restaurant late at night it resembles more of a club than a restaurant with music blasting so loud that it rocks the entire block.  It frequently hosts large parties with a DJ on the open second floor, so that the music projects into the street.  Several neighbors are protesting the renewal of Tru Orleans’ liquor license arguing that it has become a nuisance and a problem for neighbors.  At recent community meetings we’ve heard stories about how nearby neighbors struggle to sleep some weekends because the music is so loud (apparently the restaurant has toned it back slightly because the renewal of its liquor license is under protest).

This is a shame.  The restaurant is in a prime location and structurally has a great environment.  Initially, it had pretty good food and much better service.  We hope that as its two year anniversary approaches the restaurant’s management will do a review and improve.  The neighborhood currently deserves better.


6 Responses to “Tru Orleans: What Happened?”

  1. New Orleans Native May 26, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    I have to concur instead of investing money in making this a true New Orleans spot more time has been spent in just trying to rake in the money by any means necessary. The food is horrible and they should hang there heads in shame for even suggesting they have any thing to do with the great city of New Orleans. Tru Mess would be more like it.

  2. Corey May 27, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    The quality of the food has always been inconsistent, and in my experience, the waitstaff seems to know little to nothing about the cuisine the restaurant pretends to serve, and consequently can’t answer questions with anything but bad guesses. We never go there anymore. The fried oysters were not bad. The kitchen seems disorganized and so does the waitstaff. I spoke with a manager about it a long time ago and though he seemed to listen they never improved. It’s a real shame and a lost opportunity. They seem to have found some success with a late night drinking crowd. It’s too bad they don’t take service and the cuisine seriously.

  3. Your name May 27, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

    A neighbor had a bad experience (not being served and ignored) that she felt was racially motivated since they were the only white patrons.


  1. Tru Orleans Will Not Reopen, Owner Says | District Cuisine - September 17, 2013

    […] Tru Orleans, the troubled cajun restaurant on H Street that was recently shut down by the D.C. Government due to unpaid taxes, will not reopen according to co-owner Brad Howard.  The restaurant had a history of trouble with its neighbors, which had prompted a major challenge over the renewal of its liquor license.  There had also been a significant physical brawl at the restaurant (including several arrests) involving patrons and wait staff after a large party of customers refused to pay their check.  You can read more about the restaurant’s history of financial and legal problems from the Washington City Paper and see our take on the food here. […]

  2. Driftwood Kitchen Hiring, Opening Soon? | District Cuisine - September 24, 2014

    […] NE) has spent the past several months renovating the space previously occupied by the controversial Tru Orleans.  They have now posted a sign indicating that they are hiring, meaning that they are likely only a […]

  3. Driftwood Kitchen (Mostly) Shines in Debut | District Cuisine - October 21, 2014

    […] 400 H Street, NE is arguably one of the most promising locations on all of H Street for a restaurant.  Occupying a large corner spot on the west end of H Street, it is within blocks of several major apartment buildings (and many potential customers) on H Street and in NoMa.  The space was completely renovated several years ago, transforming it from a falling apart music club into a beautiful two story restaurant with a large sidewalk patio and a two sided open balcony on the second floor overlooking both H and 4th streets.  Despite this great setup, Tru Orleans–the original occupants–was unable to survive after two controversial years. […]

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