Years ago, my friend Barbara took me to visit her grandmother in Carroll County, Mississippi. The house was off the beaten path. It had a welcoming porch complete with a hanging swing. Her family called her Mer and she was a wonderful, loving, and kind woman. She made me feel right at home. I can’t remember what she served that evening for dinner, but I do remember dessert, it was her homemade Chocolate Meringue Pie – the very definition of southern comfort food.
The memory of that visit comes back to me whenever I step inside Willa Jean. And with good reason, one of the owners, Chef Kelly Fields, named the café to honor her grandmother, Willa Jean – a sassy, sarcastic woman who encouraged Chef Kelly to follow her passion.
Chef Kelly can’t remember a time when she wasn’t cooking up something and she showcases her experience and creativity at Willa Jean in the South Market District of New Orleans.
Willa Jean serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Many of the kitchen’s ingredients, are sourced through local farmers, including eggs, dairy and vegetables .Of course, you will find breads, cookies, and other desserts at Willa Jean’s like the best-selling cookies and milk.
Heaven on a plate…and you CAN lick the beater…full of cookie dough!
But in the fall, I’m drawn to the Pancake Souffle with Bourbon Carmel Apple or this yummy Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Poirer’s Cane Syrup and torn bread.
Sunlight floods through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The dining room is large but the brick walls add welcome warmth. Solo diners, be sure to ask for a seat at the window counter. It’s a perfect spot to people watch. There’s also a communal table.
Chef Kelly says while she loves baking – lately, she’s really getting into creating savory dishes, like braised rabbit with mushroom pasta. Sounds perfect for fall.
Willa Jean just celebrated its one-year anniversary in August. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I first visited and ordered the Avocado Toast with poached egg, olive oil, and sea salt. Simple. Fresh. Delicious. Let’s just say I made another food memory.
Chef Kelly co-owns Willa Jean with Chef Lisa White and Chef John Besh. To find out more about the restaurant and see the menu, click here.