A joint venture by Joel Dondis, David Pearson and Jeff Hof, Grand Isle opened in June 2007 as a restaurant that serves true South Louisiana cuisine. As a child, Dondis spent time in Grand Isle, La., and as a founding partner his goal was to bring traditional, basic-yet-tasty dishes to New Orleanians and tourists alike.
The restaurant is decorated with black-and-white photos from the island around the turn of the century. The atmosphere is casual yet elegant.
“We focus on fresh seafood and cold beer,” Pearson says, but the restaurant also serves steaks, chicken dishes and even features a kids’ menu. For two years in a row, Grand Isle has beat out dozens of competitors at the annual Po-Boy Festival: In 2009, its Camanada won “best in show,” and the year before that, it took home the “Best Seafood” for the alligator sausage poor boy.
“We’re a great casual eatery that serves value and fair-priced things,” Pearson says. “There are fresh-shucked oysters, and our beer is always ice cold.” Mark Falgoust serves as the executive chef, and there is a bounty of fresh Gulf fish (nothing is frozen; it’s always freshly caught), oysters of all kinds, turtle stew, étouffée and gumbo, among others.
Pearson says Grand Isle is open for both lunches and dinners and welcomes all types of patrons looking for a good, South Louisiana meal.
Information, 575 Convention Center Blvd., 520-8530, grandislerestaurant.com.
Satisfying sweets at Sucré
Sucré was a vision for Joel Dondis for three years before it came to life on April 20, 2007. Dondis developed the concept of Sucré during his travels and culinary experiences while in Europe. Dondis teamed up with Chef Tariq Hanna; the two are now the primary owners of the sweet shop, which, according to Dondis, is one of the top 12 French macaroon producers in the world.
“The confection studio has allowed for us to open an online store from which our products are shipped nationwide,” Hanna says. “The e-commerce site has generated a great amount of traffic, ultimately placing New Orleans on the map as one of the premiere confectionaries in the industry.”
Sucré also makes desserts for a variety of occasions including birthdays and weddings. Hanna adds: “Our specialties would definitely have to be our French macaroons, artisanal chocolates, exquisite one-of-a-kind pastries and specialty cakes.”
Sucré will soon be offering Easter chocolates and macaroon collections as well as milk chocolate bunnies, peanut butter-filled Easter eggs and festive marshmallows.
Information, 3025 Magazine St., 520-8311, www.shopsucre.com.
– Mallory Lindsly
Café Au Saints
PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans provides a wide variety of tasting, but does so with a trademark New Orleans flair. From the New Orleans classic, Café Au Lait, to specialty Louisiana flavors, PJ’s has always focused on its birthplace as a source of brewing inspiration.
PJ’s latest creations include a special Saints-inspired Black and Gold blend coffee, PJ’s biggest launch of any product ever, and also a new specialty drink featuring a quintessential New Orleans flavor. “We’ll be rolling out our Pralines and Cream frozen drink selection,” Chuck Corcoran of PJ’s Marketing says.
Another unique aspect of PJ’s coffee is its special cold-drip brewing process for selected blends, where beans are steeped in cold water for a day and filtered to produce a sweet, smooth coffee with two-thirds less acidity than with traditional hot-drip methods. In keeping with everything local, all PJ’s coffee beans are roasted in a roasting facility located in the French Quarter.
Multiple locations in the Greater New Orleans area, see Web site: www.pjscoffee.com.
– Jordan DeFrank