Fork in the Road: John Besh’s La Provence Restaurant


GISELE PEREZ

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It’s not every day you can visit a charming country French style auberge, and then be invited by the staff to go out back and visit their pigs after dining. Truth be told, it was a large part of the reason I wanted to dine at La Provence. So, on my last visit to New Orleans, I took the time to drive across Lake Pontchartrain to Lacombe, LA for La Provence’s wonderful Sunday brunch.

La Provence is the restaurant where Chef John Besh interned as a young man under his mentor Chef Chris Kerageorgiou (a Frenchman with Greek roots as Chef Besh describes him), and which he later purchased from Kerageorgiou.

Photo by Gisele Perez.

Pate and Crostini. Photo by Gisele Perez

As soon as my dining partner, Monique and I sat down, our server brought over a ramekin of delectable liver pate for us to spread on crostini, as we perused the menu. I didn’t need any urging. I had already tasted the Pate de Campagne, the little Mangalitsas gave their lives for, at August, Besh’s flagship restaurant in New Orleans, and I knew this chicken liver pate would be mighty tasty.

“I was hoping I could visit the pigs out back” I told our young server, Brandy.

“Oh yes, we encourage it,” she replied. “They’re very cute, and friendly. We’ll give you some scraps from the kitchen, and you can pet them.”

Berkshire Pigs at La Provence. Photo by Gisele Perez.

Mangalitsa Pigs at La Provence. Photo by Gisele Perez.

 

“Really” I asked. That whole issue of getting too friendly with something that would eventually show up on the menu popped up in my mind.

“Do you name them? “

“No, that would be a little too much,” Brandy said. “And they’re sent somewhere else for slaughter,” she added.

Crisly Drum with Crabmeat and Mushrooms. Photo by Gisele Perez

Photo by Gisele Perez

So between courses of Fried Oyster Salad on Wilted Spinach with Lemon Aioli, Heirloom Beet Salad with Herbed Goat Cheese and Pistachios, Crispy Fried Drum with Crabmeat, Mushrooms and Brown Butter Hollandaise and Crabmeat and Mushroom Omelets, out we went to meet the little charmers. They are, in fact, very friendly. They came running over to greet us and our scraps, and even posed for the camera. And while we were out back, we also visited the chickens, who live along side the pigs and supply fresh eggs for those luscious omelets and  decadent Hollandaise.

Ah well, we pushed the thoughts of slaughter out of our minds, just in time to return for dessert, a fabulous trio of Pots de Creme – Blackberry, Lavender and Honey, and my favorite, Gianduja.

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