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.
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!
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.
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!.
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