You Better Balise It!

by Emily on June 3, 2015

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Today marks the 1 year anniversary of my last post on Fleurdelicious.

Sad, but true.

Before you judge me I might add that three weeks ago I turned thirty years old. And I’m learning that with thirty comes a long list of goals, a bit of acquired wisdom, and a few full-blown David After Dentist, “Is this real life?” panic attacks. I’m not proud of neglecting my beloved blog for so long, but taking a year off has served as a much-needed reminder of how much I missed writing. So, starting today, I will be making a grand, thirty-year-old effort to get back in the game. After all, I’m still the same hungry, food-loving girl since 2010… I guess I just needed to hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete on life and reconsider what matters to me. And this blog matters a great deal to me.

Content shouldn’t be a problem considering that New Orleans is exploding with restaurants right now. My must-try list on my iPhone is never-ending since the moment I can finally cross one restaurant off, I am forced to add another. Naturally, there are a few that have made their way to the top of the list and Chef Justin Devillier’s Balise was one of them. Some girlfriends and I decided to try it recently and, as expected, Balise did not disappoint.

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I began the meal with a Methuen Treaty cocktail which is just one of a dozen craft cocktails that Balise offers. This one was a refreshing blend of gin, ruby port, pear williams, demerara, ginger beer, grapefruit and lemon and came highly recommended by our waitress. Dangerously delicious and easy to drink… plus a super fun pink color slightly reminiscent of the tiki bowls at Five Happiness. But, if you can imagine, way better tasting!

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The menu at Balise is broken down into 5 sections: cold appetizers (garde manger), hot appetizers (entremet), sides (lagniappe), entrees and desserts. I ordered the trio of oysters with mignonette and cocktail sauces to start and though I’ve eaten oysters about a million and a half times, these were exceptional. The oysters were just as they should be – very cold and slightly briny and the mignonette, though pungent with vinegar on the nose, was much more subdued once paired with the oyster. I was left wanting way more than just three.

Our waitress also recommended the venison tartare, which all three of us absolutely loved. The tartare was served with small dollops of dill mayonnaise, some horseradish, chives, and crispy rye breadcrumbs. Wow.

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But it was the brussels sprouts from the Lagniappe menu that won us over. Bathed in a sauce of blended chilies and fish sauce and topped with fresh herbs and fried peanuts, these crispy fried sprouts were addictive to say the least. We polished off the bowl in a matter of minutes and considered ordering a second.

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In my adult life I have become somewhat adverse to red meat, which is crazy because I grew up eating steak probably twice a week. Now, the craving for it just isn’t there but I have been known to make an exception, especially if I think that a particular restaurant’s preparation sounds impressive. Blaise’s grilled sirloin strip with grilled scallions, Dauphine potatoes, and caramelized onion jus sounded way too good to pass up, so I stepped out of my seafood/pork/chicken comfort zone and ordered it.

No regrets.

In fact, I would go back just to have this same dish again. The steak was very tender and I loved the potatoes, which were like little mashed potato beignets (how do they even do it?) and the cipollini onions and grilled scallions were a fantastic addition.

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Dessert had to be the Sticky Toffee Pudding with roasted pecans and smoked vanilla ice cream. All I’m saying is that if Chef Devillier makes any version of this for his family during the holidays, then they are the luckiest people on the planet.

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I genuinely look forward to visiting Balise again – especially knowing that the menu will often change just as La Petite Grocery’s does. When you have culinary talent like Chef Justin, the seasonal produce, fresh catches, and farm-raised meats used in dishes are expected, but his preparation of ingredients and the flavors that he and his team create are always a pleasant surprise.

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