Try a taste of Cali-CreoleEat This! Thursday, June 25th, 2015
Local Habit celebrated their re-launch last March in traditional “La Grande Boucherie” bayou style with a 325 pound milk-fed hog “pulled a hundred different ways.” My studly tattooed dinner companion and I decided to check out the new fare one recent weeknight. We seated ourselves and admired the massive bar made from reclaimed wood and the equally impressive colorful mural painted by Sean Dietrich. Fading sunlight streamed through the skylights and roll up front window.
Executive Chef Nick Brune, the creator of “Cali-Creole” cuisine, emphasizes the flair, spice and flavor of food he grew up with in Louisiana. His passion is reflected in a menu which focuses on fresh local produce, house cured meats and homemade breads. Local Habit offers small plates, Neapolitan-style pizza, fresh salads, sandwiches and desserts.
Our server, Jay, was very attentive and quickly took our orders. While Local Habit offers an extensive variety of craft beers and fine wines, we chose to whet our appetites with craft cocktails. The Hurricane, a New Orleans favorite, is a sweet blend of rum, triple sec, amaretto, grapefruit, pineapple and house grenadine. The Hand Grenade, a subtle blend of vodka, house melon liquor, house coconut rum, gin, 151 rum and pineapple juice, is refreshing and really packs a wallop.
Appetizers include Cali-Creole White Shrimp, Whole Roasted Cauliflower, Gouda Jack n Mac and Spicy Sautéed Kale. We selected the sausage board and pork belly as our introduction. The house made andouille, a medium coarse sausage with a deep smoky flavor, is served with crostini, pickled onions, roasted garlic cloves, mustard honey sauce and tangy mini-cucumbers. The slow-baked and lightly charred pork belly, served with assorted greens, Creole agave and serrano chile sauces, is sugary with a mild heat and satisfying chew.
We barely had time to finish our appetizers before the entrées arrived. My handsome companion, aka “Tiger”, ordered the Fried Jidori Chicken and I chose the Pork Shoulder Po’ Boy Sandwich. The Jidori birds, known for their robust flavor, undergo a 48-hour brine before being dusted with rice flour and fried to crunchy perfection. Tiger, himself of Southern roots, raved about the succulent chicken. Available in mild, medium or “Slap yo mama!” spice, the entrée is served with buttermilk, Creole agave or serrano sauce. Delish! Magically, every bite of the po’ boy sandwich transported me to the Crescent City’s fabled French Quarter. Lean pork shoulder is braised in Mother Earth Pin-up Pale Ale to fall apart tenderness. The nuanced beer flavor is perfectly complimented by locally sourced organic lettuce, vine-ripe tomato, pickled onions, garlic aioli and house mustard.
The dessert menu offers drop-your-mardi gras-beads delicious beignets dusted with powdered sugar, silky rich buttermilk pie or bread pudding with or without vanilla ice cream. While tempting, we decided to forgo dessert and asked for our check.
Local Habit offers weekly specials and is open for Sunday brunch, Friday and Saturday lunch, happy hour, dinner and late night service. Special events include tonight’s six-course brew master dinner with Nick Ceniceros of Fall Brewing Company. Tickets are $50 per person with seating at 7 p.m. Eat this, hungry readers. You’ll be glad you did.
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