Justin and Mia Devillier, owners of La Petite Grocery and Balise Tavern, have announced their third restaurant, Justine, will open its doors to the public on Friday, January 25th. Combining the sophistication of Parisian brasseries with the playfulness of the South’s most lively district, New Orleans’ French Quarter, Justine will begin with dinner service and will add lunch service at a later date. True to the heart of French brasserie culture, the bustling, multi-roomed restaurant offers a versatile space to be enjoyed by all, whether it’s for a weekday lunch, afternoon glass of wine, or celebratory dinner.
“A French Quarter restaurant has been a longtime dream of ours, and finding this space conjured up a vision for a boisterous, glamorous French restaurant,” says Chef Justin Devillier, the 2016 James Beard Award-winner for Best Chef: South. “For the past two years, Mia and I have been immersing ourselves in French culture and cuisine in order to really capture the spirit of Paris and its brasseries. We’re excited to bring that same energy to Justine in a city that has such strong ties to France.”
FROM THE FRENCH KITCHEN
The kitchen is led by Chef & Owner Justin Devillier and Executive Chef Daniel Causgrove, who previously worked as a sous chef at La Petite Grocery. Balancing sophistication and exuberance, Chef Devillier’s menu will marry classic French technique with theatrical presentation: The soupe à l’oignon gratinée is served in a classic manner, blistered and bubbly, with gruyere and ementhaller, the Moroccan spiced-beef rib highlights the cultural and culinary ties between Paris and Marikesh, and Raclette melts a blanket of cheese over potatoes, Parisian ham and cornichons. The restaurant’s many beef offerings pay homage to the French boucherie, honored by the large marquee over the kitchen that once hung over a Parisian butcher shop. The rotating Plats Du Jour features dishes like Prime Rib, King Crab, Coq Au Vin, and Bouillabaisse. On the café side of the restaurant, guests can enjoy coffee and small bites, as well as plates from the full dinner menu.
Justine’s bar program is driven by the drinking culture of France: simple and classic, with a focus on the spirits beloved by French families. Bar Director Jesse Carr has crafted a menu featuring spirits such as Eau de Vie, Armagnacs, Cognacs, and French Brandies, both for sipping and in a collection of carefully crafted cocktails that let those spirits shine. Mirroring the playful nature of Justine’s cuisine, the cocktails are both refined and a bit tongue-in-cheek, with signatures such as a Calvadoserac featuring Absinthe and the Silent Fizz, a variation on the Chartreuse Fizz. The wine program, helmed by Jonathan Sanders, will be exclusively French, with an emphasis on lesser-known regions and winemakers across the country. Keeping the list dynamic, bold, and refreshing, the offerings will change frequently, encouraging guests to explore new French wines.
A PARISIAN FOOD HALL
Located in the May & Ellis building (formerly the Hurwitz Mintz building), recently the recipient of a historic preservation design award, the multi-roomed, 200-seat restaurant was designed by New Orleans-based design firm Farouki Farouki. Early in the design process, the designers, also a husband-wife team, and the Devilliers traveled to Paris and brought home an abundance of inspiration and unique artifacts to incorporate into the design. The result is a bustling, grand-hall style restaurant that’s both elegant and boisterous.
The rooms are rich with details and materials such as antique brass, extravagant lighting, and large expanses of diamond-patterned smoked glass mirrors. Bold, vintage-inspired artwork echoes throughout the restaurant, with French street art lining the café wall and restroom hallways. The intimate back dining room showcases two colorful murals: one by local artist Ellen Macomber that celebrates New Orleans’ tricentennial and was debuted at the Cultural Exchange Pavilion at Jazz Fest 2018, and a mirroring French counterpart of Ellen’s mural with Parisian artwork, underscoring the rich relationship between France and New Orleans. On either side of the bar, screen-printed portraits of Ernest Hemingway and Edgar Degas with stenciled overlays watch over the room.
Anchoring the restaurant behind the rear dining room is an outdoor dining space that features a custom absinthe decanter-inspired fountain, lush plantings, and a textured candle-lit weathered masonry wall.
Justine will open its doors at 4pm on opening night, with dinner service running from 5:30pm – 1am. Dinner will be served seven days a week from 5:30pm – 11pm, with late night hours from 11pm to 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. Lunch service will be added a later date.
ABOUT CHEF JUSTIN DEVILLIER: Justin Devillier is the Chef/Owner of La Petite Grocery, Balise Tavern, and Justine in New Orleans, and the 2016 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef South. He grew up fishing in the waters off Southern California but returned to his long-standing family roots in Louisiana in 2003. At the helm of La Petite Grocery for a decade, he helped to rebuild its infrastructure after Hurricane Katrina. In 2010, he and his wife Mia took ownership of the restaurant, housed in a century-old building with a storied history. In the kitchen, Justin puts his creative spin on traditional New Orleans cuisine, with dishes like Turtle Bolognese and Blue Crab Beignets, earning the restaurant a spot on Eater’s list of 38 Best Restaurants in America in 2016. His second restaurant Balise Tavern, named after one of the first French settlements at the mouth of the Mississippi River, opened in the Central Business District of New Orleans in early 2015. Set in a 19th century Creole townhouse, Balise’s menu celebrates New Orleans as a port city and its unique access to a wide variety of ingredients. In January 2019, the Devilliers opened their third restaurant Justine, a Parisian-style Brasserie in New Orleans’ historic French Quarter.
ABOUT MIA FREIBERGER-DEVILLIER: Mia Freiberger-Devillier is the Director of Operations & Partner at La Petite Grocery, Balise Tavern, and Justine. While her husband Justin helms the kitchen, Mia handles the logistics and operational sides of all three restaurants. Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Mia moved to New Orleans in 1996 to attend Loyola University. After receiving a degree in Business Management and Marketing at Loyola followed by a Masters in Accounting at University of New Orleans, she worked as a tax accountant with Deloitte and Touche for three years. In 2009, she joined La Petite Grocery as General Manager before she and Justin took over ownership of the restaurant in 2010. Mia and Justin Devillier’s second restaurant, named Balise Tavern after one of the first French settlements at the mouth of the Mississippi River, opened in the Central Business District of New Orleans in early 2015. The Devilliers opened their third restaurant, Justine, in the New Orleans French Quarter in 2019. Mia attributes her passion for food and wine to her late father, Harley, and her knack for Southern hospitality to her late grandmother. In their honor, she continues her pursuit of providing memorable dining experiences at her three restaurants.