Dining Features

Willie Mae’s: It’s about the chicken                
Restaurant manager Kerry Ceaton doesn’t have to brag about the quality of Willie Mae’s fried chicken – the restaurant’s numerous awards and recognition speak for themselves.

Willie Mae’s Scotch House has received rave reviews from locals and tourists alike, and has been featured on the Food Network and the Travel Channel. The restaurant was also the recipient of the James Beard Foundation 2010 award, an organization committed to identifying small, down-home restaurants that stand out. Bon Appetit magazine named Willie Mae’s a “best pick” in one of its daily blogs, after readers chimed in with their votes. The hype is great for this hotspot, and for those who doubt, here’s what Ceaton did have to say about it: “We are America’s best fried chicken. We aren’t even in the same category as Popeyes.”

Willie Mae’s first opened as a bar in the 1950s, then became a restaurant in the 1970s, Ceaton says.  She is the great-granddaughter of Willie Mae Ceaton, who ran the restaurant for most of its 50-year run. Kerry took over the restaurant about three years ago, and though the ownership has passed hands, the food quality remains delicious.

The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and as seating is limited,early arrival is advised. In addition to “everyone’s favorite” fried chicken, Willie Mae’s also serves breaded or fried pork chops and smothered veal, and sides of red beans, butter beans, French fries and potato salad. Beer, wine, sweet tea and Coke products are also available.

Information, 2401 St. Ann St., 822-9503.

– Jessica Williams

Dining Features

Green Goddess offers relief
The Green Goddess has been attracting diners looking for something different since its opening in 2009. Chefs Chris DeBarr and Paul Artigues are committed to exploring and developing flavors and dishes from cultures around the world. Such international fare includes the South Indian Savory Ivory Lentil Pancakes – featuring petite green peas, mustard seeds, kalonji and spiced tomatoes – and the Cochon de Lait/Lei, which includes pulled pork seasoned with Hawaiian black lava salt all wrapped up in banana leaves.

Lately the notoriously hot and frenetic kitchen has been concentrating on issues a lot closer to home. Chef DeBarr, a native of Pensacola, is especially feeling the pain and frustration associated with the BP oil disaster. Oil washing ashore in his beloved hometown pushed him beyond frustration into active fundraising.

The Green Goddess now offers philanthropic foodies a chance to support the Gulf cleanup. By ordering one of a few special dishes or a six course, $60 tasting menu, a diner can contribute money to the Greater New Orleans Fund, which passes that money along to relief efforts in the Gulf.

Information- 307 Exchange Place, 301-3347, www.greengoddessnola.com.

– Victoria Perkins

Dining Features

Martin at Muriel’s
Lifetime New Orleanian Gus Martin, executive chef at Muriel’s Restaurant, began his culinary career at an early age – by 14 he was working in the Commander’s Palace kitchen with Chef Paul Prudhomme. After serving six years in the U.S. Army, Martin turned his interests to one of his earliest passions: cooking. He eventually became sous chef at Mr. B’s Bistro, executive sous chef at Commander’s Palace and executive chef at Palace Café and Dickie Brennan’s before joining Muriel’s.

The Jackson Square eatery, which has a reputation for being haunted, is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and features a special Sunday Jazz Brunch with Joe Simon’s Jazz Trio. Muriel’s specializes in classic Cajun, Creole and Southern dishes such as Louisiana Barbecue Shrimp, Pecan-Crusted Puppy Drum, Crawfish Étouffée and Pain Perdu Bread Pudding. (All of these recipes are available in full on the website.)

Information, 568-1885, 801 Chartres St., www.muriels.com.

– Jordan DeFrank