I should have known when my wife Jun flinched at the sound of turtle. At La Petite Grocery, a restaurant with a modern take on the French-New Orleans cuisine, the turtle Bolognese pasta has long been one of the restaurant’s signature dishes so I wanted to give it a try. Jun, who raised several turtles growing up, hesitated but I persuaded her to give it a try. Well, that didn’t go so well as Jun dropped her fork after a couple of scoops. In fact, La Petite Grocery might have been the most disappointing of the restaurants that we had been to in New Orleans, especially given all the accolades it has received over the past year or so.
Our meal started well. For all its flaws, La Petite Grocery’s blue crab beignets were sensational. The beignets were lightly fried and the crab along with malt vinegar aioli for dipping was a pure joy that showed how an ambitious Southern cooking can accomplish. Things started going south afterwards, however. The aforementioned turtle Bolognese was underwhelming. The turtle-based sauce wasn’t as rich and hearty as the ragu sauce we have been used to when going to other Italian restaurants, and the texture of the bucatini noodle was surprisingly soggy instead of al dente. I did manage to pick up the slack after Jun dropped her fork and finished the whole dish, but it didn’t feel satisfying, even with fried soft boiled egg on top. The roasted pork chop with sauerkraut, fingerling potatoes and wild mushroom butter was nicely cooked, but compared to the outstanding pork chops I’ve had elsewhere throughout my culinary journey, it was somewhat pedestrian. For dessert, butterscotch pudding with pecan shortbread and vanilla bean cream was a delicious end to the meal, although again it was hard to see anything that distinguishes this dish in a different light.
Getting a reservation doesn’t seem too difficult although the dining space was quickly packed in the course of our dinner with a good mix of locals and tourists. The romantic vibe of the restaurant is a plus to your experience, as will be the various cocktail and wine selections that can help you get through the meal. La Petite Grocery may be an adequate neighborhood restaurant in New Orleans, but I did expect to see a unique perspective that I don’t get to experience in other parts of the country, and it didn’t help that the levels of execution were rather mixed.
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 7.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 7.5/10
- Value: 7.5/10
Address: 4238 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115
Telephone: (504) 891-3377