So the other night I made a long overdue return to La Petite Grocery. LPG is helmed by Chef Justin Devillier, who worked in a other New Orleans kitchens before ascending the ranks of LPG and, after Hurricane Katrina, purchasing ownership of the restaurant with his wife and general manager, Mia. Although the menu changes seasonally, Chef Devillier’s talent for flavorful, technique-savvy yet non-fussy cuisine is consistent. Here’s a recap of my dinner:
Blue Crab Beignets, like most of his dishes, reflect Chef Devillier’s love of seafood and attention to detail. They’re served with a pleasant malt vinegar aioli (read: actual whisked aioli, not just mayonnaise with garlic chopped into it) and are pretty addictive.
Steak Tartare is prepared in the classic French style with the addition of ghost pepper bowfin caviar on top and crème fraiche on the side, a nice touch which allows the diner to control the spicy and creamy by simply pushing them away with knife and fork. For the record, I finished everything. Also, ghost pepper caviar seems a bit trendy these days. In less capable hands, it overpowers every other flavor in a dish, aka a mess. This is the correct way to use it.
The restaurant often serves an assortment of chilled seafood from the gulf with a mainstay side item of pickled quail eggs. (Try those, they’re great.) But one special of this particular evening was a Crudo of Wild Striped Bass dressed with celery, pickle brine, and fresh dill. I could probably eat an entire bass prepared this way. Simple. Delicious. Not fussy.
The pasta special was Lobster Roe Fettuccine, meaning the roe had been kneaded into the pasta itself—LPG handmakes all of its pasta in-house. This not only tasted good –How could it not?– but looked especially nice, topped with Florida bottarga, red Russian cabbage, and a garnish of beautiful, little onion flowers.
I had one entrée, which was recommended. And I’m glad it was recommended because I’d never have ordered it otherwise. Chicken Breast. Unless it’s a restaurant’s specialty, I almost never order chicken in restaurants. Safe. Boring. Something I could cook at home. This menu item is a winter dish that’s lasted into spring because it’s spectacular. The breast is roasted to juicy, fork-tender perfection. No one needs to sous-vide anything. The skin is crispy with the fat practically rendered off. I love fried chicken as much of the next person, but this is an argument in favor of roasting being a debatably superior and certainly more difficult technique. Also there was fluffy, airy cornbread dressing which tasted (bear with me) like the best corndog you’ve ever had. And fried sage and tasso jus finish off the dish. I’ve never seen a more elegant plate of poultry and stuffing. I’m done now.
Dessert was Cane Cream Puffs with candied peanuts and chocolate syrup. Simple, not too sweet. Basically a really good sundae and a nice way to finish a great meal. LPG has a nice wine list also –I sipped on an easy Vietti Barbera D’Asti through dinner– and makes killer Manhattans.
If I haven’t convinced you, Chef Devillier is a repeat nominee for the James Beard award for Best Chef South. I expect great things in the future. Wish him luck this year, and go try the place. You can thank me later.
4238 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
Lunch: Tuesday-Saturday 11:30-2:30
Dinner: Sunday-Thursday 5:30-9:30
Friday-Saturday 5:30 – 10:30
Sunday Brunch 10:30-2:30
I wrote #whyIhateNOLA for my friends. But more people than I expected read my little April Fools’ joke. I appreciate the outpouring of support and hatred from both locals and visitors. Thank you for all the feedback. It’s been a week since publication, so I decided to round up some of the most memorable commentary made on here, Facebook, and Twitter. Enjoy.
• i liken new orleans to an old comfy couch… once you sit down, you wont wanna get up…
• wtf? fasting growing city in the nation? this man must be frequenting the all night bars and smoking good weed.
• I’d introduce you to my niece but you would probably hate her too.
• If hate could be bottled it would be bottled in NOLA!
• F*** you ya little piece of c*** licking, ass**** sucking, c** juggling down your throat p****!!
• I’m confused. But it’s clever.
• Hate your title and refuse to read
• I couldn’t read it. The headline offended me.
• You’re a Nola cutie
• Now I can understand your life there, in the sub-tropics
• do you know what it means… to hate new orleans?
• Typical NOLA masochist.
• When he dies, he will be reincarnated @ least 4 times in…
• I hate he has a Tulane degree and hate was the best pun he could come up with to be witty. I hate that this dumb ass article will be popular.
• Proud of what? What does New Orleans has that is so much better then California?
• “it is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes than to own the whole state of Ohio.” ― Lafcadio Hearn
• And don’t forget to read the comments left afterwards.
Homemade crawfish étouffée
Snake & Jake’s
Cane & Table
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar
New Orleans Original Daiquiris
Blues & BBQ Festival
Cafe du Monde
Homemade red beans and rice
*Have to clarify that there exists no definitive list for a perfect NOLA weekend, but this was a solid time… due mostly to my visiting friends’ unconditional trust and ability to rally.
Sean Payton to return to Saints in 2013…
NOLA Christmas Dinner:
Ciabatta Truffle Dressing,
Sainte Marie is shaking things up a bit. New menu. New cocktails. Owner Robert LeBlanc and managing partner Murf Reeves have decided to clear up any confusion about what kind of restaurant they run and what kind of atmosphere it’s going to provide. Simply put, a French brasserie with a twist… the twist mainly being provided by Chefs Ngoc Nuyen and Darian Williams. Both chefs are sons of Louisiana who aren’t only proud of their home state but also of the food traditions unique to their families. Murf is compiling a cocktail and beer list that isn’t stereotypical of a French brasserie yet still accessible and wallet-friendly. Don’t let the (complimentary) valet fool you—The white tablecloths are gone. Don’t worry about dropping a martini glass—There aren’t any. Sainte Marie is about relaxation. Somewhere between the fancy restaurant and the cocktail bar is a place you can chill out, have some good drinks, lose track of time, and just enjoy the people around you, whether they’re ones you brought or new friends sitting at the bar.
Photos are all of tasting-size servings. Here are some thoughts from yours truly on the new menu.
Sometimes I want to say too much about a dish to fit into 140 characters. Apolline’s scallop entree is seared diver scallops. The appetizer could have used just a tad more salt or acid for my taste, but there was no lack of seasoning in this entree. (In fact, a more sensitive palate may have found this too salty, but I liked it.) I once had a Brazilian roommate who always said nothing could ever be too salty or too spicy for him, and he would have loved this.
I try to stay objective, but this dish was made up solely of ingredients I love, so it was impossible for me not to enjoy it. The scallops were on top of a charred corn maque choux and garnished with grilled gulf shrimp(!) and chive. This all sat atop a bacon “plank” roughly the size of four post it notes side-by-side in a square.
The scallops were perfectly seared, still medium rare-ish on the inside. They were quite flavorful despite the generous seasoning and spiciness. Mercifully, the bacon wasn’t wrapped around them, but the classic pairing was still intact. The slightly creamy sauce combined with the other ingredients (particularly the corn) reminded me of the flavors of a really good corn chowder. Despite my obvious bias, I think anyone would enjoy this. The portion size was generous enough to make me question if I’d finish it all, but I definitely did.
Told you there was too much I could say about this dish to fit into 140 characters.
Tweets about Apolline’s wine specials, sweetbreads, and pecan pie at http://twitter.com/ndrewmarin.
4729 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Dinner Tuesday-Saturday: 5:30pm-10pm
Lunch Saturday-Sunday: 10am-2pm
I’m going to begin this post by beating y’all to saying it: “Excuse me, sir. Your bias is showing.”
I openly admit that I have a deep respect and admiration for the work of John Besh, Michael Gulotta, and Kelly Fields. When I write about food, I try to keep my thoughts relatively subjective. Although I’ve dined at Restaurant August a few times for lunch, tonight was the first dinner I’ve had there. I can’t help but share the details of this glorious meal with you. I dislike taking photos in fine dining restaurants, so I’m going to borrow ones from the chefs’ social media. Every dish Chef Mike tweets makes me salivate. The real bias though is that this meal included many of my favorite ingredients, so it was hard for me not to love the dishes. (I guess the flip side would be that if you know ingredients you like are being used, the bar of expectations is set high. But those expectations were met and exceeded.)
My morning-after routine to help you rebound faster—and reap no punishment for a night of heavy drinking.
Order of operations is suggested but steps two through nine can be rearranged as necessary.
- Stop drinking alcohol.
- Brush teeth.
- Shave. (Ladies: Makeup.)
- Water again.
Follow these steps well enough, and no one will even know you were out last night. Unless they see your facebook and twitter feeds.
11. Exercise. And then follow these commandments.