HAROLD & BELLE’S RESTAURANT
CREOLE FAVORITE GIVES WAY TO YEAR ROUND MARDI GRAS
For more than 40 years now, Harold & Belle’s Restaurant has been a favorite for Cajun and Creole cuisine, bringing the spice and flare of New Orleans directly to West Jefferson Boulevard. Now a third generation of ownership in Ryan and Jessica Legaux has modernized the neighborhood favorite while still staying true to classic recipes that help maintain a year round Mardi Gras atmosphere.
Believe it or not, but on my way home from my recent visit for dinner to Harold & Belle’s, I actually received a phone call from a good friend asking if I wanted to go on a quick getaway to New Orleans. I thought, I just feasted on first rate Creole food and the only way to find anything better would be to actually visit the Crescent City. I was sold. And let me tell you, when it comes to classic Creole cuisine, Harold & Belle’s deliver the goods and stands up against anything you’ll find in the Big Easy.
After taking in the new look and feel from a recent remodel, Harold & Belle’s lost a little of the family charm for a more contemporary and polished corporate feel. It no longer felt like I was eating in someone’s home but in a sterile hotel restaurant. But the charm from the staff was inviting and the fare was spot on so I didn’t mind too much. And anyone who has never been before won’t know notice the difference.
Cocktails were a must to start, just like dinner in the Big Easy and that meant ordering some N’awlins favorites like the Sazerac—a New Orleans original made with Absinthe, Sazerac Rye and Peychaud’s Bitters. This was a solid and well balanced cocktail. Likewise, the Remy “1738” Sidecar was nice and refreshing. While we really enjoyed this first round of drinks, I personally would have preferred had these cocktails come in classic glassware. It just would have made for better presentation.
Other good starter drinks include the Pimm’s Cup, which is really light and easy, especially with a touch of Prosecco. The Second Line, Harold & Belle’s version of a Hurricane, a Bourbon Street staple, features passionfruit and Sloe Gin flavors and is really nice.
A sure fire way to make any meal at Harold & Belle’s a homerun is to start with an order of oysters. We tried the fresh oysters charbroiled with house-made Bayou butter, and the fried hand breaded gulf oysters, which were out of this world. The meal could have ended here and I would have been completely satisfied as the charred oysters were outrageously delicious.
But we didn’t stop there as we really enjoyed the Spinach & Blue Cheese Salad prepared with candied pecans, rendered bacon, dried cranberries, red onions, and blue cheese with honey balsamic vinaigrette. This could be a savory meal on its own but you tend go big when you’re eating at Harold & Belles, just as if you were at Mardi Gras.
And no Creole cuisine meal is complete without the classics like gumbo and jambalaya. And let’s not forget the Shrimp & Crawfish Étoufée where crawfish tails are smothered in rich and spicy crawfish gravy and served over your choice of rice or pasta. This is one hearty and pleasing dish that’s absolutely incredible.
Likewise, the Jambalaya, a Creole classic with rice, chicken, shrimp, beef sausage and mixed vegetables is decadently delicious. All I could say was “Wow” after trying this bad boy. Not to be undone, the Filé Gumbo with dark roux, ground sassafras, shrimp, sausage, ham, blue crab and chicken is another favorite that will not disappoint. If you’re looking for good side dishes, you can’t go wrong with the red beans and rice.
If you eat family style like we did, be prepared to take home leftovers as the portions at Harold & Belle’s are generous and the prices are very reasonable ($20 for Jambalaya) considering you get an ample serving for leftovers.
And make sure to save room for dessert. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of liquid dessert and the Riverboat, a brandy Milk Punch topped with chocolate bits, is terrific. Slightly in that same realm, the Louisiana Bread Pudding is very buzzworthy as it’s finished with Jack Daniel’s Whiskey sauce. But our favorite was the beignets, which were simply the bomb! I swear these held their own compared to the world famous beignets at Café Du Monde in New Orleans.
Like any meal in New Orleans, especially when you’re making a night out of it, you tend to eat and drink too much but you know you can count on a delectable dinner and dynamic drinks that inspire and satisfy. Dining at Harold & Belle’s is an experience; it’s not a quick bite. My dinner with filled with world class company, wonderful conversation and divine dishes. You just can’t ask for a better evening.
Harold & Belle’s Restaurant is located at 2920 West Jefferson Boulevard. Open Tues-Thurs 11:30am to 10pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am to 11:30pm; Sunday 11:30am to 10pm. Closed Mondays. Call 323-735-9024.
Story by Jose Martinez
Photography Courtesy: Harold & Belle’s Restaurant