La Petite Grocery

The name La Petite Grocery pays homage to the history of the building that houses our restaurant: In the late 1800s, John B. Willig built a Creole-style cottage on the corner of Magazine and Berlin (renamed General Pershing after World War I) Streets in the Jefferson City area of New Orleans. He leased the store to a young entrepreneur named Frank W. Mackie and together they opened the Central Tea, Coffee and Butter Depot.

La Petite Grocery

Posing with La Petite Grocery’s Mascot Pig
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

In March of 2004, La Petite Grocery opened its doors in the same building that John Willig and Frank Mackie built almost 100 years earlier with similar aspirations: to provide the neighborhood with exotic teas, locally roasted coffee and fresh produce and hoping to provide a dining experience that evokes nostalgia of old New Orleans.

In 2004, Devillier joined the team at La Petite Grocery as a line cook, housed in this century-old building with a storied history, and was promoted to sous chef after one year. Following Hurricane Katrina, he helped re-build the restaurant’s infrastructure, and in 2007 was promoted to executive chef. A short three years later, Devillier and his wife Mia took over ownership in 2010. At La Petite Grocery, Devillier puts his creative spin on traditional New Orleans cuisine with dishes like Turtle Bolognese, Panéed Rabbit, and Blue Crab Beignets. He has been named a James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef: South for four years (2012 – 2015), and was also awarded “Chef of the Year” by New Orleans Magazine in 2014. In 2016 Justin Devillier was awarded a James Beard Award as Best Chef South!

La Petite Grocery

Chef Justin Devilier and his wife Mia
Photo Credit: Website

This was our second visit to Petite Grocery. The first was a few years ago on our last visit to New Orleans. We loved it so much that we knew we wanted to have another taste of Chef Devillier’s delectable food. Our meal began with fantastic rolls. I know in some parts of the country, good bread is taken for granted, but after living in South Florida for 35 year I have learned to really appreciate good bread. These rolls had a really crusty exterior and when you took a bite you could hear the crunch of the crust. And in that same bite was a soft, tender and chewy interior. We knew the rest of the meal would be as good as we remembered and we were not disappointed.

La Petite Grocery

Apple and Celeriac Salad
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

We started by sharing an Apple and Celeriac Salad and loved the crispness of the apple against the softness of the thinly shaved celeriac. The sweet tart flavor of the apple played well against the slight licorice flavor of the celeriac, the salty tang of the blue cheese and the sweet nuttiness of the toasted pecans. And the dressing totally complimented the salad without overpowering it.

For our entrées Steve selected the Gulf Shrimp & Grits with Roasted Shiitake Mushrooms, Smoked Bacon and Thyme and I ordered the Swordfish with Puréed Sweet Potato, Black Lentils, Bok Choy, Baby Shrimp and Diced Sweet Potato. Both dishes were soooooo good that there was no sharing. None. Not even one bite!.

La Petite Grocery

Luscious Shrimp and Grits
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

And then came dessert. We were almost at the point of being too full for dessert. But seriously, who is ever REALLY too full for dessert? Thankfully we found just enough room in our tummies to share a “lick the plate” good gooey Chocolate Cake with house made Strawberry Ice Cream and Toasted Pecans. We inhaled every morsel.

La Petite Grocery
4238 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
504-891-3377
lapetitegrocery.com

Compère Lapin New Orleans

According to the website the inspiration for the menu at Compère Lapin comes from the traditional Caribbean folktales featuring a mischievous rabbit named Compère Lapin that Chef Nina Compton read during her childhood in St. Lucia. Drawing on the story’s themes of exploration and play, she mixes the local ingredients and rich culinary heritage of New Orleans with those of her Caribbean roots. Chef Compton also taps into her classical French culinary training and deep experience with Italian cuisine resulting in a playful menu that takes food you know, and makes it food you love.

Compère Lapin New Orleans

Delicious Small Plates at Compère Lapin
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Meals should not be about trends, shock value, or opulence. They should be about moments, memories and those with you at your table. The complexity of simplicity and the power of pure flavors is what drives the food. “Our histories, vast and varied, deserve to be memorialized and romanticized by dishes that at once remind us of home and transport us to somewhere new.”

I have been following Nina Compton’s career since she competed as a frontrunner on Top Chef New Orleans. I was rooting for her to win because: (a.) she’s a female chef and (b.) her food was so creative. In the end she lost to a chef from Philadelphia Nicholas Elmi. When I read that she had opened her own restaurant in New Orleans in June 2015 I put Compère Lapin on my radar. So for our second meal in NOLA we went there for dinner.

The restaurant is on the street level of an old hotel and boasts the exposed brick wall to prove the building’s age. The place was hopping (pun intended)! We were seated by a cozy table for 2 right by the huge window which made it great for people watching. But the real show was inside seeing what diners were ordering. We wanted to eat each dish that came out of the kitchen. We showed some restraint, however, and only ordered five savory items plus dessert.

Compère Lapin New Orleans

Conch Croquettes
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

First up was an scrumptious order of Conch Croquettes with Pickled Pineapple Tartar Sauce and Salmon Roe. These were a far cry from the Conch Fritters that we used to make as hors d’oeuvre for tropical theme parties when we had our catering business. They were so much more delectable. Though they looked like fried mozzarella sticks their looks were deceiving. Crunchy on the outside and filled with lots of tender conch and just a touch of creamy sauce. Their flavor was elevated even more when eaten with the tart/sweet tartar sauce and salty roe.

Compère Lapin New Orleans

Spiced Pigs Ears with Smoked Aioli
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

We followed the Conch Croquettes with Spiced Pig Ears with Smoked Aioli. The delicious pig ears tasted like spicy bacon. And we loved the addition of the smoke in the aioli which complimented the pig ears beautifully. To add another beautiful compliment we were served fluffy Chive Biscuits with two butters; one a Honey Butter and the other a Bacon Chive Butter. I could have had them for dessert and been a happy girl.

Our meal continued with luscious Spinach Cavatelli with Fontina Fondue and

Compère Lapin New Orleans

Spinach Cavatelli with Fontina Fondue
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Compère Lapin New Orleans

Broiled Shrimp with Calabrian Chile Butter
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

. Both dishes were fabulous but I have to say that the head on shrimp made them a bit difficult to eat and quite messy. And our last small plate was Smoked Tuna Tartare that was so fresh with just a hint of smokiness.

Compère Lapin New Orleans

Smoked Tuna Tartare
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

For the finishing touch we shared the Banana Zeppole with Rum Caramel and Hazelnuts. When you bit into the warm fried banana dough gooey Nutella oozed out. Oh yeah! It was a scrumptious ending to a wonderfully creative meal.

Compère Lapin New Orleans

Banana Zeppole with Rum Caramel and Hazelnuts
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Compère Lapin
The Old No. 77 Hotel and Chandlery
535 Tchoupitoulas Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
504-599-2119
http://comperelapin.com

Turkey and the Wolf

We awoke to a cloudy day with intermittent showers in our first morning in New Orleans. So I made coffee in our suite and hoped for the rain to stop long enough for us to walk about 7 blocks to the much hyped Turkey and the Wolf for lunch. After all we did need to get in some serious cardio to burn off the calories we would be consuming. As luck would have it the rain slowed to barely a drizzle; so with umbrella in hand we headed on our way. The lull in the heavy rain was just enough to tease us into thinking we wouldn’t get too wet. But just like in Florida it poured and stopped several times on our short trek to the restaurant. Obviously we didn’t melt.

Turkey and the Wolf

Crunchified Fried Bologna Sandwich
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Turkey and the Wolf is  a new sandwich shop opened by Chef Mason Hereford and his partner Lauren Holten. Chef Hereford was the longtime chef de cuisine at another one of our favorite restaurants, Coquette, and describes the concept as “casual, sandwich-driven; no frills but still creative.” I think he has stayed true to his word. In fact the food is so good and so creative that Eater’s Bill Addison said that “New Orleans is a city famous for its sandwich culture, and Turkey and the Wolf has moved the needle in eccentric, irresistible new directions. Chef de cuisine at Turkey and the Wolf Colleen Quarls’s resume includes stints at local luminaries like Coquette and Donald Link’s Cochon. In her current position, she assembles dizzying combinations such as meatloaf on white bread bombarded with gravy mayo, pepper jelly, American cheese, dill pickles, and “shrettuce” (the restaurant’s signature portmanteau).” She was even a semi-finalist for the Eater Young Guns Award!

Turkey and the Wolf is a cozy (read tiny) little spot at the corner of Jackson and Laurel that even has a parking lot. Which is a real bonus because parking is such a premium in NOLA! The decor is quite kitschy with adorable sets of salt and pepper shakers on the tables. Something I guess I really noticed because I collect them. There are a few tables, an ordering station and a small bar. A blackboard gives you all of the menu options including interesting cocktails. But it was way too early for alcohol. Steve and I debated over several choices but went for the sandwich I had read about many times – Fried Bologna. I know. Weird. Right? We were handed a cute table marker with a cow on top so that the server would know where to deliver our order.

Turkey and the Wolf

Crunchified Fried Bologna Sandwich
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

We were sharing so our sandwich came with an extra plate. A plate that took me back to my childhood and Sunday dinners at my grandparents home. It was not at all what you would expect and a luncheonette. It had a beautiful floral pattern in the center surrounded by a wide dusty rose border. And the flatware had turquoise handles. Everyone who knows me knows that turquoise is my favorite color. But that sandwich was the real star. The bologna is listed as Leighann’s Bologna. Since I never heard of it I asked about its origin. A friend whose last name is Leighann makes it for them and I must say it is really good. It was sliced pretty thin, fried in a pan and piled between two thickly cut slices of great artisanal white bread along with Via’s mom’s hot mustard, “shrettuce” (aka shredded lettuce), mayo, American cheese and freshly made potato chips. But that’s not all. The sandwich was then lovingly placed on the grill to toast the bread perfectly and melt the cheese. Now that is what a good sandwich is all about. Of course I had to mention to Steve that the sandwich was crunchified. A term coined by my favorite chef Bobby Flay to indicate that potato chips are in the sandwich. The sandwich was so good that we wanted more but restrained from ordering a second one to share. Instead we decided right then and there that we would come back for another round of Fried Bologna before we left New Orleans. 

Turkey and the Wolf

Wedge Salad
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

So on our second visit to Turkey and the Wolf, just a few days after the first visit, we indulged in our promise to ourselves to share another Fried Bologna Sandwich. But this time we added a Wedge Salad to also share. This was no run of the mill wedge. It was so huge that half of it was larger than a full plate at most restaurants! The salad starts off with at least an entire head of Iceberg lettuce which is then anointed with lots and lots of crisp, salty, meaty thick cut bacon. Then it its sprinkled generously with “everything bagel crunchy stuff” as described by the menu. On top of what is already a mountain of food on a plate fresh tomatoes, chunky blue cheese dressing and fresh dill complete this delectable dish. I could have easily made a meal of the salad alone, but then I would have missed out on another taste of their incredible Fried Bologna Sandwich.

Turkey and the Wolf

Wedge Salad
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

I can’t wait for a return visit to New Orleans for another wonderful taste of anything Turkey and the Wolf has to offer!

Turkey and the Wolf
739 Jackson Avenue
New Orleans, LA
504-218-7428
turkeyandthewolf.com

Cochon New Orleans

There were quite a few restaurants on our Must Dine at This Trip list. A few were places we had heard about from TV shows or print media and had never eaten at. But only one was a restaurant where we actually knew the Chef, Stephen Stryjewski; and that one was Cochon. Chef Stephen has […]

[read more]