New Orleans: Festive Food for the Holidays


New Orleans cherishes its traditions, and one of the most festive is the holiday dinner. This time of year, many New Orleans restaurants offer special menus which give diners an opportunity to sample new restaurants at an attractive price. Menus are prix fixe and give diners a bargain: three or more courses at some of the city’s finest restaurants.

Some menus rely upon traditional New Orleans fare—gumbo, shrimp remoulade, bread pudding—while others explore new territory. Two of the most innovative holiday menus in town can be found at restaurants, Saint John and Gris-Gris.

From December 1 through December 24, both restaurants offer dinner menus which celebrate New Orleans’ Voodoo heritage. The Mange Loa holiday menus refer to the annual Voodoo ceremony “feeding of the gods,” an annual feast for the gods, or loa,  in a celebration during which the powers of the loa are lifted to their highest potential.

The Mange Loa entree at Saint John is lamb rack

At Saint John, the $75 three course menu, which includes a holiday cocktail, features lamb rack and Haitian orange cake. At Gris-Gris, the $65 menu also includes a cocktail and offers stuffed quail and, for dessert, the option of sweet potato pudding or butter pecan pie.

Sweet potato pudding is a dessert option on Gris-Gris’ holiday menu

Both restaurants are owned by Chef Eric Cook, a native of New Orleans whose honors include winning the 2016 National Chef’s Taste Challenge. Gris-Gris, located at 1800 Magazine Street, opened in 2018 and has garnered a list of awards including New Orleans Magazine’s Best Restaurants of 2019. The food at Gris-Gris is based on refined Southern cuisine and New Orleans favorites.

Saint John, located at 1117 Decatur Street, opened in 2021 and presents Cook’s take on haute Creole cuisine, drawing inspiration from traditional Sunday dinners in the French Quarter and from New Orleans’ melting pot of cultures.

For more information on Gris-Gris, check the website at www.grisgrisnola.com;  see the menu at instagram.com/grisgrisnola. For more information on Saint John, check the website at www.saintjohnnola.com; see the menu at instagram.com/saintjohnnola.

 

Saint John’s front room features a stunning marble bar.

 

photos courtesy Randy Schmidt, Gris-Gris and Saint John

 

 

Kathie Farnell
Kathie Farnell
Freelance writer Kathie Farnell lives in Foley, Alabama, ten miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, with her husband, photographer Jack Purser, and a flock of cats. She has written travel articles for print and web publications since 1992, and also produces programming for public television and radio through her nonprofit corporation, Artemis Media Project. The couple enjoy exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations and spending time on the Gulf beaches.

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