The Bayou at 702 Hawthorne Road in Bethlehem will serve jalapeno grits, blackened catfish and fried oyster po boy among other dishes.

The Bayou at 702 Hawthorne Road in Bethlehem will serve jalapeno grits, blackened catfish and fried oyster po boy among other dishes. (March 7, 2014)

You may have just missed your opportunity to celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but you can get a taste of the Big Easy closer to home thanks to The Bayou, which will open Monday at 702 Hawthorne Road in Bethlehem.

The restaurant fills the space formerly occupied by the Hawthorne House, which was destroyed by an arson fire in 2009. It features a mix of rustic and modern decor — complete with hardwood floors, exposed brick walls and two flat-screen TVs.

Owner Cristian Duarte, a former bar manager at the now-closed Starters Riverport, describes the cuisine as “American contemporary with a Southern influence — particularly New Orleans-focused.” He highlights three dishes as house staples: buttermilk fried chicken, the Bayou burger and Ty’s mac and cheese (named after executive chef Tyler Baxter).

Baxter, a former co-executive chef at Cosmopolitan restaurant, developed a majority of the menu, which includes snacks such as jalapeno grits, small plates such as smoked pork ribs, sandwiches such as fried oyster po boy and large plates such as blackened catfish. There is also a rotating gumbo.

The 80-seat restaurant includes a 20-seat bar featuring 24 draft beers and nearly a dozen house cocktails, including the Blue Bayou and Voodoo Juice. In warmer months, a back patio and tables on the front sidewalk will provide seating for an additional 60 patrons.

The Bayou, which will showcase acoustic blues and jazz performers on weekends, will open for lunch and dinner 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. The bar will stay open two hours later every night. Info: dat-bayou.com.