Thursday, November 13, 2008

La Petite Grocery

La Petite Grocery
4238 Magazine St
New Orleans La 70115
Lunch Tuesday - Saturday 11:30 AM - 2:30 PM
Dinner Tuesday - Saturday 5:30 PM - until

This restaurant is one of several operations that Joel Dondis, originally from Lake Charles, has an interest in. I meet Joel at one of his other venues. He was kind enough to offer to host me if I ever came in and wanted to eat at La Petite. I gladly accepted the offer. It is in line of a neighborhood bistro. Situated in a building uptown that once was a grocery store they have turned the inside into a temple to dinning. Cozy spaces and a comfortable bar area highlight this venue.
My dinning companion and me started our dinner with a lovely breadbasket of crusty bread, a foreboding of the evening. I ordered the Charcuterie Plate, which was in fact, a long cutting board loaded up with an in-house country pate with olives and red bell pepper. A small bowl of cornichon and olives perched along side condiments of grain mustard, onion relish, and Dijon mustard. Spread on bread in various permutations made for a delicious and interesting way to start the meal. My companion, a lady who frequently accompanies me at my New Orleans meals, went with the Steak Tartare with a smoky aioli (mayonnaise) topped with a mirogreens salad. My taste proved beefy and satisfying.
Next I went with Shellfish Bisque with Creme Fraiche and Chives. The base was crab and tasted of it in the best way possible. It contained some medium shrimp. The flavor profile wonderful with deep intense flavors. One of the best I have eaten. To maintain dinning balance my companion was brought something extra from the kitchen, a Gratin of Blue Crabmeat in Brie Cream. This turned out to be outstandly rich and creamy with a wonderful crab flavor. A twist on an outstanding Crab and Brie soup from another New Orleans restaurant.
Salad followed. I went with a Celery Root, Apple and Walnut one with Blue Cheese and fresh herbs with a white wine Vinaigrette. The crispy crunchy slightly sweet ingredients with the mild vinegar tang worked for me. My companion opted for the Shrimp and Hearts of Palm with Shaved Fennel with tarragon and watercress in an Herb Emulsion. While the profile of the emulsion did not suit my palate I could taste the potential of the other ingredients working together.
Main course for me was a braised Berkshire Pork Shank with stone ground grits and smothered greens. The meat came out fork tender, juicy and with a great pork flavor profile. I never had to my knife. As good as the meat turned out the smoky greens and grits proved better. It bought out the southern boy in me. This dish of low on the hog was turned into a high on the hog eating experience. My companion went with the Fresh Market Fish that happened to be Escolar. A pan seared fillet sat on a proscuitto rich risotto. My taste provided a fish with a crisp exterior and succulent interior and risotto full of hammy flavors.
We were so full dessert did not seem an option but we decided to split a vanilla bean crème brulee. However the kitchen surprised us again with a trio of frozen treats from Sucre (another Joel Dondis operation). It consisted of Lemon Sorbet, Mango Gelato, and Chocolate Ice cream. All packed to the gills with wonderful flavor punches. The lemon sorbet especially was nice after the heavy meal. The creme brulee provided a perfect example of the art of this dessert. The ratio of sugary crackly crust to creamy custard was sheer perfection.
Service was exemplary, as I would expect. The menu changes on a regular basis. Some of the dishes I ate remain but with different preparations and sides. Whatever they offer, you can be assured it is going to be the best. I highly recommend this venue if you want to get out of the Quarter to a local place with flavor and flair.

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