A BITTERSWEET BEGINNING: Two days after its launch party Sept. 10, the Louisiana-inspired Acadiana (901 New York Ave. NW; 202-408-8848) turned a sad occasion into a chance to raise funds for Katrina hurricane victims by recruiting nearly 20 chefs from around Washington to help make po' boys from donated ingredients.

Co-owner Jeff Tunks reports that the roast beef- and shrimp-stuffed sandwiches sold out in less than two hours -- and raised $27,000 for relief efforts.

"It's bittersweet," the restaurateur says of the opening of Acadiana, whose sprawling dining room takes its cues from the places in New Orleans that he, chef Chris Clime, pastry chef David Guas and two business partners toured while doing research for their latest project. (Tunks, Gus DiMillo and David Wizenberg also own the nearby DC Coast, TenPenh and Ceiba.)

Tunks likes to think "we're carrying the torch" for a way of life that has all but disappeared for the moment. That means wrought-iron accents and twinkling chandeliers, turtle soup and beignets at the 180-seat Acadiana, where background jazz also adds an authentic grace note. Despite the devastation wrought by Katrina, a number of Louisiana purveyors continue to provide the newcomer with some signature building blocks, including slow-cooked Zapp's potato chips and chickory-flavored "community coffee." Most of the restaurant's oysters, however, hail from the mid-Atlantic rather than the Gulf Coast.

Acadiana represents a trip down memory lane for both Tunks, who once cooked at the Windsor Court Hotel in the Big Easy, and Clime, who spent almost seven years working in restaurants in Charleston, S.C., and comes to his new post from Ceiba.

Lunch entrees $12-26, dinner entrees $19-27.

Acadiana's dining room.