Sunday brunch at Justine was just what the doctor ordered. Prior to the pandemic, I was a serial “bruncher.” If bottomless mimosas were on the menu, I was there. When the seasons change, I develop seasonal depression, so doing more of the things that I love are very important. Brunch is Self-Care for me. A huge part of my grief journey includes making new memories and new experiences. Justine opened in early 2019 and believe it or not, it was one of the very few restaurants that Moe and I had not dined. Today was the perfect day to have sunday brunch.
As soon as I walked through the door, I was welcomed with Neon lights. The fresh roses at the hostess station, the DJ spinning records and the Scout Guide on the table let me know that I was right where I needed to be. I was escorted to the “best seat in the house” by the FLYest Maitre D in New Orleans.
To say that I was dressed for the occasion would be an understatement, because I complimented the decor perfectly. This French Brasserie is located in the May & Ellis building (formerly the Hurwitz Mintz building), with interior design by Farouki Farouk. The murals on the back walls, which were a collaboration between Ellen Macomber and a French artist are breathtaking…and instagrammable of course.
For the 90 minutes that I dined in the restaurant, I felt like I was in Paris, not on a French Quarter street in New Orleans.
Starters include mimosa bottle service which serves 2-4 along with accoutrements of fresh fruit, select juices and seasonal garnishes. You may add a sidecar or St. Germaine for $10. I opted for a glass of Jean Vullien Savoie Brut Rosé NV which was served in beautiful stemware. The wine and champagne selection was quite impressive.
I selected the Banana Bread with caramelized banana and honey butter. I ate everything on the plate except the flower! The bread was light and the caramelized banana wasn’t too sweet, it was just right. I just had to order one “to go” for my dad. Other options include bread pudding french toast, onion soup au gratin and deviled farm eggs.
I selected my brunch favorite, “Barbecue” Shrimp and Grits (ginger, garlic, spicy chili butter). When the dish arrived, I saw the chilis and just knew that it was going to have some heat to it. The shrimp were peeled, which is always a preference for me. This dish was probably one of the best shrimp and grit entrees to date.
The wait staff were very attentive even with the heavy restaurant traffic. I had the pleasure of chatting with Robby, the maitre d and even met Chef Justin Devillier.
While great service and excellent food are always top of mind when reviewing a restaurant, I hone in on the overall experience. Grief has taught me the importance of memories. As I reflect on the countless number of dinners that I shared with my late husband, it’s not the meal that I remember, it’s the experience. Those memories are so vivid that I can close my eyes and place myself right back in the moment. The next time I drive down Chartres Street, I will come back to this Sunday brunch. I will remember the conversation that I shared with my cousin and Robby. I will remember how I happy and free I felt in that moment.
Justine is definitely a restaurant that I will revisit again for dinner. Be sure to add this to your list of restaurants to visit for brunch with your girls, cocktails after work or date night.