Willa Jean, New Orleans
You can’t visit New Orleans and not dine at Chef John Besh’s Willa Jean. The Artichoke Dip and Cookies + Milk must be ordered.
When travelling, a city’s food is just as important to me as it’s sights. In between visits to buildings, museums and monuments, I’m stopping by some of the city’s best restaurants and sampling their local cuisine.
New Orleans had always been on my bucket list and was beyond excited to be visiting with my boyfriend, my best friend and my sister, all of whom are as fanatical about food as I am.
My sister, Madeleine, lives in Mississippi and has visited NOLA multiple times so we left the itinerary and restaurant research to her. Man, did she do a stellar job! Every restaurant and bar we visited was incredible, each with unforgettable dishes and drinks.
One of the best restaurants we visited was Willa Jean, a contemporary bakery opened by famous New Orleans native, Chef John Besh, Chef Kelly Fields and Chef List White.
The spacious restaurant is located in the city’s Central Business District and is beautifully designed – think exposed brick walls, floor to ceiling windows and industrial accents (including some very cool hanging lights).
A bar sits along a large part of the restaurant’s back wall and a long bench, with assigned stools, line the windows. At the front entrance sits probably the most exciting aspect of the restaurant, the bakery.
Cakes, cookies and brownies are piled high on wooden boards and aluminium stands. Your mouth will water and you’ll contemplate skipping lunch for a bag of baked treats but don’t, the lunch is definitely worth some stomach space…
To kick us off, we decided to share a few snacks. First up was the Artichoke Dip, a “cheese business” with crostini’s ($10) and it was INCREDIBLE. Hands down, this was the best Artichoke Dip I have ever enjoyed. I’m not ashamed to say that the bowl was well and truly clean upon its return to the kitchen.
This snack was followed closely by some very tasty Crab and Corn Fritters. Good, but they had nothing on the Artichoke Dip.
My boyfriend chose the daily special, a delicious Turkey Burger ($13) with a generous drizzle of gravy. I was told it hit the spot.
My friend and my sister with the Griddled Meatloaf ($13). This hearty sandwich included tomato jam and crispy onions on an onion roll. With not even a crumb left on their plates, I think it’s safe to say it was finger-licking good.
The Fried Chicken sandwich ($13) had me at Hawaiian roll. For those of you who haven’t tried a Hawaiian roll, go find one… right now! Accompanying the Hawaiian roll was a large piece of fried chicken and topped with serrano slaw.
This was a mighty tasty sandwich and was served with equally as enjoyable homemade kettle chips.
We had all decided on dessert before we’d even chosen our lunch. The Cookies + Milk ($8) was taunting us.
Just as the name suggests, this was a fresh-out-of-the-oven choc chip cookie (with a dusting of sea salt), a blob of cookie dough and a glass of cold milk. This dessert was just as good as we imagined.
611 O’Keefe Avenue
New Orleans LA, 70113