For our most recent visit to New Orleans, Paul and I decided we wanted to try some new restaurants we’ve not visited before. We relied on word of mouth of friends and award announcements from the James Beard Foundation. Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery on Magazine Street in the Garden District won the 2016 award for Best Chef: South. Paul secured reservations for Saturday lunch at 12 Noon for us and friends Eric and Rebecca.
Our knowledgeable waiter, helped us navigate our options from the regular and specials menus with a friendly enthusiasm. Eric ordered the Pickle Jar from the Sides and Such menu. The jar overflowed with an assortment of pickled local vegetables: cucumber, carrot, cauliflower, okra and green beans. Crisp and spicy. ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
Paul decided on the Blue Crab Beignets served with a creamy malt vinegar aioli. These lightly-battered, crispy puffs yield with a crunch into a rich, creamy crab center. The texture reminded us of the best deep-fried white fish and chips that you might find in an English or Irish pub, but filled with the freshest and flakiest crab. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I ordered the Ricotta Dumplings (think gnocchi) tossed in hen of the woods mushrooms sautéed in butter and finished with fresh parsley and flakes of pavio vecchio cheese. A comforting delight! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Before the main course, we began to feel warm in the dining room and noticed all the wait staff “glowed” as we say in the South. Apparently, our seltzer water bearer informed that the HVAC system was scheduled to be fixed the next day. Rebecca ordered the salad from the specials chalkboard, Eric choose the Pan-Roasted Pompono Sandwich also from the specials menu, Paul decided on the Griddled Octopus from the main menu, and I asked for the appetizer specious the chalkboard.
Rebecca’s salad came with poached Gulf shrimp tossed in a ramp vinaigrette with arugula, cherry tomatoes and toasted pistachios. Cool, fresh, bright flavors. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Eric’s pompano sandwich came dressed with arugula, Chow Chow and bacon aioli and hand-cut fries on the side. Most of the table accepted Eric’s offer of a bite and noted the delicious flavors of fatty roasted fish and bacon infused aioli. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Paul enjoyed the crispy yet tender octopus with slivered fried potato fingerlings, botarga (cured fish roe) and chimichurri and chow chow. Octopus ruins with ease when cooking, but Paul declared this a success. ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
How could I turn away from an egg? My appetizer special appeared with soft yolk egg baked in creamed greens and topped with pecorino pepato cheese and fried Gulf oysters. The rich soft egg yolk coated all the ingredients in golden yumminess. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The warmth of the dining room and savory meal just finish made us vulnerable to our waiter’s suggestion for cool and sweet treats. We shared the dessert special of fresh strawberry-fig ice cream topped with a vanilla bean cream, chocolate sauce and toasted pistachios and an Abita Root Beer float with vanilla ice cream. The strawberry-fig in the ice cream was subtle, fresh and sweet (⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2) and the float made us all feel like we were 8 years old again (⭐️⭐️⭐️).
The HVAC system on the blink didn’t deter us from enjoying every moment at La Petite Grocery. To read other restaurant reviews, click here.