The restaurant celebrates the culinary traditions of New Orleans, where Adams’ parents were born and raised. And many of Lagarde’s menu items are based on Adams’ mother’s recipes, including andouille and shrimp gumbo, red beans and rice, and daube — a traditional French-meets-Italian braised beef dish served with crispy onions.
Shucked raw oysters on the half shell, grilled oysters with garlic butter and Parmesan breadcrumbs, barbecue or plancha shrimp, and fried oyster and shrimp po’ boys on Leidenheimer French bread are among the classic takes. Plus, il Giallo pastry chef Libby Muldawer is offering some new twists on traditional desserts such as pecan pie, bread pudding and soft serve ice cream.
Doug Gross, the former part-owner of Kaleidoscope in Brookhaven, is Lagarde’s general manager. Gross also oversees the bar program, which features iconic New Orleans cocktails, along with Painkiller and Negroni slushies, some two dozen craft beers, and a sophisticated but approachable selection of wines by the glass and bottle.
Atlanta interior designer Vivien Patrie put the finishing touches on the dramatic freestanding building, which is perched above Chamblee’s Keswick Park and was constructed with a soaring plank-and-beam ceiling and glass walls on three sides.
A focal point of the design is a street art-style mural painted by Atlanta’s Lotus Eaters Club with colorful caricatures of Adams and Moura interacting with a whimsical menagerie of Louisiana animals. And a focal point of the layout is a spacious 20-seat granite-topped bar.
Last week, Adams and Gross conducted a tour of Lagarde and talked about the concept, and how it fits with the food and drink.
“I grew up here in Atlanta. But every summer vacation or holiday, Dad piled all the kids in the car, we drove down to New Orleans to be around the relatives, and it was all about eating,” Adams said. “My Aunt Elvie was the master of the barbecue shrimp. Another aunt would make gumbo, and red beans and rice, and fried chicken. Originally, when I started working in restaurants, I thought I wanted to do a New Orleans place. But I went on a different path.
“I moved to Italy and lived there for a long time, and then I came back and did the Italian thing for 20 years. Fast-forward 40 years, and here I’m basically doing what my family did. But we’re doing things like totchos, too, which are tater tots made into nachos topped with New Orleans ingredients. And we’re doing some things that are a little bigger, like the blackened fish and the braised beef. Still, we’re keeping most things way under $20.”
For his part, Gross said the bar serves to create a sense of community, with reasonably priced beverages that have a wide appeal.
“We’re New Orleans, as far as the cuisine goes, so we really wanted to bring in things that tied in with that, like Abita beer,” Gross said. “Otherwise, it’s centered on local and regional craft beer, and we will have six beers on tap, too. As far as the cocktails, a Sazerac is just about as traditional as you can get.
“The wines are fairly straightforward, and ultimately, we’re trying to match the price point of our beverages to the price point of our food. The whole idea around the bar was for it to be friendly. Sort of like a 21st century ‘Cheers.’ Jamie’s favorite word is convivial. And I think that certainly sums up what we’re trying to do here.”
5090 Peachtree Blvd., Suite D-100, Chamblee. 470-385-3533, lagardeatl.com.
Scroll down for more images from a First Look at Lagarde American Eatery in Chamblee
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