I'm an L.A. hound, and over the past two years, I've seen many a post brush aside a recommendation to Bayona because "you could find something like it in LA or NYC." We dined there last Saturday for the second time, and I can only say: Um, no. You couldn't.
True, Bayona does not serve strictly creole or cajun food. But that does not mean that Bayona is some generic hybrid-fusion-cal/med restaurant serving chilean seabass and ponzu sauce and seared ahi with arugula (not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that). Bayona is the pure individual expression of a brilliant chef, who, as far as we understand, still does much of the cooking. By and large, the entrees on the menu, though seemingly familiar, are unlike anything we've elsewehere.
I'm not saying that Bayona has better food than anywhere else in the world. But, goodness, what value! $21 for their signature Salmon & Choucroute? 10-year-old Riesling for $40 a bottle? I can say for a fact that in L.A. you'll be hard pressed to find such quality of ingredients, inventiveness, and setting.
Bayona blends southern hospitality and New Orleans friendliness with a finely trained staff that clearly love what they do. It manages to be warm and inviting without being too informal. With no buspeople, everyone from the waiter to the sommelier picks up dirty dishes and provides advice. Again, try finding that elsewhere. On top of all that, it's in a glorious 200+ year-old cottage in the French Quarter!
So, while many visitors come to New Orleans with dreams of the perfect Creole (and just as often Cajun) food dancing in their heads, don't be afraid of suggesting Bayona just because it's not "new orleans-y enough."
Now, for more specific notes on our dinner:
We had the Salmon & Choucroute; local redfish with roasted artichokes, fava beans and a lemon butter sauce; a starter of roasted veggie lasagna; and an extra side dish of butternut squash puree. For dessert, we had the Apple Trio (caramel dipped apple, apple tart, green apple sorbet); pumpkin beignets with toffee ice cream; and a plate of petit-fours (for my birthday).
All of it, stunning -- if anything managed to come out a winner from this dinner, it might have been the roasted lasagna, which we requested as an appetizer. Smokey mushrooms really made this a winner.