Lilette is part of the creme de la creme of the New Orleans dining scene. Others come and go, but the classic approach to fine dining employed by Lilette creates a timelessly successful experience that is always sure to please.
Some of the accolades that have rested on the mantle of Chef John Harris include him being recognized as one of Food & Wine Magazine's best new chefs in 2002, as well as being named 2001 Chef of the Year by New Orleans Magazine. The restaurant is also often in the top 10 rankings of New Orleans eateries.
The atmosphere of Lilette rests somewhere between staunch formality and that of an upscale bistro. The fare is French and Italian with a New Orleans foundation. The wine list favors Europe but has options to satisfy the New World palate with equal effectiveness.
There are a large number of appetizers that are acceptable for vegetarians, including the grilled beets with goat cheese and walnuts, the cheese plate and potato gnocchi with sage brown butter and Parmesan cream. There are also a number of meatless salads, including a delightful hearts of palm salad in a lemon, olive oil and Parmesan dressing.
I started with the eggplant crisps with skordalia, tomatoes, basil and oil-cured olives. The crunch of the eggplant was offset by the vibrancy of the tomatoes and the basil. The olives provided a nice salty contrast to the rest of the dish.
There is not a vegetarian entree on the menu. However, the staff plans for a vegetarian dish each night based upon what is freshest in the kitchen.
My entree was fluffy gnocchi in an oil and sage base topped with spinach, lima beans and grape tomatoes. The gnocchi were delightful. The pillowy texture of the potato pasta soaked up every last bit of flavor from the vegetables.
The cocktail list was small but well chosen. I absolutely love the Hendrick's gin martini with a cucumber garnish as an apperatif.
Desserts are also very nice. Pastry Chef Beth Biundo makes great treats for after dinner. If you're too stuffed after the meal, you can always contact her side business (Cakes by Beth) and have something made to take home with you.