Go-to place for to-go foods
Situated along a commercial stretch of Veterans Boulevard is The Larder Gourmet Market + Eatery, an independent outpost surrounded by a sea of big box chains. Owned and operated by Alison Vega-Knoll and Chris Wilson (the former also owns the seafood-centric Station 6 in Bucktown and the later is a longtime veteran of Emeril’s restaurant group), The Larder puts forward an assortment of artful prepared foods as well as a curated portfolio of products from small businesses in New Orleans and beyond. If you are in need of a quick meal, takeout for the family, party supplies or gifts for a friend, The Larder checks all these boxes. Think of it as a culinary Swiss Army Knife for all your home and party planning needs.
Their origin story is counterintuitive, having opened during the pandemic at a time when most places were either hunkering down or closing their doors for good. But Vega-Knoll immediately spotted an opportunity in the high-visibility real estate. “Chris and I envisioned a place where people could have restaurant quality food in a take-out setting,” said Vega-Knoll. “We really felt we could build on that.” Drawing on past experience (she and her husband operated a smaller version of the concept years back when they lived in Antigua), the duo embarked on a full-on renovation of the former fast-food space. The result is an airy, light-filled contemporary vision that is combination deli, market, coffee shop and gelateria with alfresco seating and a contactless drive-through window to boot.
Guests can pre-order turnkey meal packages, picking them up at the drive-thru on the way home. One recent choice was a chicken chili, accompanied by rice and thick slices of bread pudding, which served more than the four advertised. Customers can also order prepared food from the deli case – their Creole shrimp salad is a favorite. “The dish reminds me of my dad’s boiled shrimp salad,” said Vega-Knoll, whose updated version builds on the seasoned shrimp with lemon and fresh rosemary. “You can eat as a dip or use on a sandwich – it is very versatile.” The curried chicken salad is popular as well.
For breakfast, consider the smoked salmon and Cajun Caviar bagel, whose main ingredients are sourced from Cajun Caviar, a separate woman-owned enterprise that Vega-Knoll is a partner of, as well. For lunch they offer a compelling list of sandwiches, including a traditional pressed Cuban with roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and garlic aioli.
If you need to fill your fridge instead, check out the selection of prepared foods. Soups include a deliciously creamy New England-style clam chowder. The spectrum is broad – offering everything from gumbo to lasagna – and there is no predominant theme save for that they tend to be crowd-pleasing hits with an emphasis on seafood.
Vendors whose wares are showcased here include St. James Cheese, Piccolo Gelato and the Lord of Meringues – a micro-bakery owned by Ehren Abbott whose imaginative confections approach edible sculpture. Other vendors include Jacques Torres Chocolates and Withco cocktail bases, making the Larder a good place for gifts.
In-house seating is offered, as well as the convenience of a drive-thru. Al fresco tables are nestled among the beds of herbs and flowers which help to soften the traffic from nearby Veterans Boulevard. As the pandemic recedes, The Larder’s model is shifting more toward event and party planning; keep them in mind for your entertaining needs.
3005 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 766-6763, Lardergourmetmarket.com
ABOUT THE CHEF
Alison Vega-Knoll is a native New Orleanian whom many will remember from Vega Tapas Café, which helped pioneer the small plates craze way before it became a national trend. She and her husband Drew spent several years in Antigua where they raised their family while operating a gourmet market that served as a forerunner of The Larder. Upon the family’s return to New Orleans, she opened Station 6 in Bucktown, which specializes in seafood. Chris Wilson spent the better part of three decades with Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant group, last serving as Culinary Director prior to the pandemic.