accessAtlanta

City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

The Beignet Connection restaurant review, Atlanta

$-$$$

$-$$$

Remember the good old days of stopping in Huey’s for an order of beignets and a cafe au lait? Ever wish you could round up its entire staff and implore it to open a new beignet dive just to indulge your sweet tooth?

Review by Jenny Turknett

Review by Jenny Turknett

If you weren’t around in those days and missed the beignets, don’t lament. The Beignet Connection, which opened in March, aims to re-create the Huey’s experience.

Tony Morgan, co-owner of the Beignet Connection, managed the Huey’s in Savannah before moving here to save the Atlanta location from its impending decline. Although Morgan didn’t prevent the beignet joint from closing, he did maintain contact with its sous chef and kitchen staffers as they scattered to kitchens across the city. He recruited many of them to join his new team.

When it came to creating his restaurant, Morgan chose to stick with the New Orleans theme because he says, “It seems popular.” Though N’awlins is known for big personality, the Beignet Connection’s persona feels restrained with a neutral color palette and sparse decorations. Only a couple of hanging feathered masks evoke the Big Easy flair.

The menu showcases Bayou classics, much like Huey’s. But here you’ll find heartier additions such as étouffée and jambalaya. Just don’t expect the smack of Cajun spice in these dishes. Rather, linger in the subtler flavors for which Creole fare is known.

The main event (photos by Becky Stein)

The main event (photos by Becky Stein)

A prime example, the seafood gumbo ($4.95 cup) with shrimp and meaty crab won’t set your mouth ablaze but still warms with richness and depth. You’ll want to dive into this sumptuous gumbo, layered with flavors from a hearty bouillabaisse and nutty dark roux. Skip the accompanying slices of crumbly dry French bread doused with parsley and dig deep into your dish for the soft steamed rice to sop up the gravy-thick goodness.

The creole-style jambalaya ($13.95) ratchets the heat level up just a notch, though still mild in comparison to its Cajun cousin. The molded round of rice-dominant jambalaya is sweetened by a chunky tomato-garlic base. Yet it fails to achieve the same long-cooked, layered-flavor soulfulness of the gumbo. The angled slices of greasy andouille sausage mixed with shredded chicken and shrimp buoy the dish.

Jambalaya

Jambalaya

Another New Orleans specialty misses the parade entirely. The muffuletta ($8.95 for a quarter), on a seeded wedge, doesn’t dress for the festivities with its singular slices of provolone and ham and sliced green and black olives. Missing is the typical mountain of meats and the vinegary giardiniera (pickled Italian vegetables) used to compose an olive salad. Morgan admits that the restaurant is now “trying to beef up the sandwiches.”

The party becomes livelier at breakfast, the Beignet Connection’s busiest meal, and for good reason. The shrimp and grits ($10.95), deliciously smooth and creamy from heavy cream, tempt me to give the bowl a surreptitious lick. The grits earn their star power from the lobster base added to the broth, which makes them robust and complements the whole Gulf shrimp hidden inside.

You may wish to cut the richness of your grits with a side of sweet. Order one of my favorites, the enormous plate of pain perdu ($8.25), for the table to share. This French toast, made with seeded muffuletta bread, takes a swim in a silken cinnamon custard before crisping. The toast, moist and lusciously crème-brûlée-like, receives an indulgently sweet kiss of pecan-praline syrup.

After your meal, it’s finally time to move on to the reason you came — the beignets ($4.95 for three), of course. These fragrant puffed pillows of fried yeast dough are typically the life of the party at the Beignet Connection, though on occasion, you might find them flat and doughy in the center. Ask for a cup of the dipping sauce ($.55) you remember from Huey’s. Choose from a variety of exceedingly sweet flavors, including homemade-strawberry, whiskey-vanilla — heavy on the whiskey — or pecan-praline.

Although the Beignet Connection parades a few of the old Huey’s recipes, only some, such as the beignets, are worth celebrating. Attempting to duplicate the menu and theme of another restaurant seems to hamper this one from developing its own personality. I hope the Beignet Connection will soon drop the Huey’s mask and don a costume of its own design.

THE BEIGNET CONNECTION
349 Decatur St. S.E., Atlanta, 404-525-5295
1stars5
Food: casual bistro serving creole fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Service: eager but seemingly inexperienced and untrained
Best dishes: seafood gumbo, shrimp and grits, pain perdu and beignets
Vegetarian selections: pancakes, pain perdu and assorted side salads
Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover
Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturdays, 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. Sundays
Children: yes
Parking: yes, free parking in garage
Reservations: only for large groups
Wheelchair access: yes
Smoking: no
Noise level: low to moderate
Patio: no
Takeout: yes

ratings_key_febUSE

16 comments Add your comment

mrmambo

August 25th, 2011
7:32 am

Yeah, I was really excited by their opening last Spring, but disappointed in the results. I go to NOLA several times a year and was hoping for a great local creole/cajun joint with po-boys, especially when I heard they were importing Leidenheimer’s bread (the standard for po-boys).

We got roast beef and shrimp po-boys, which were fine, but lacking in filling–there were maybe 5 shrimp on the sandwich, when it’s typically overflowing, and the roast beef was okay but the gravy was a little bland and there wasn’t enough.

The beignets were the real disappointment–they were hollow, pasty, and so bad we threw them out after trying one or two. It must’ve been a bad day, because I can’t imagine these met the owner’s standards.

Overall, we went that one time back in Spring and never went back, despite Scoutmob discounts and close proximity to our house. I really want to like it, but it seemed overpriced (for the portion) and tasteless food served in a too formal environment.

matt

August 25th, 2011
12:38 pm

You should consider using dollar signs instead of stars at the top of the article. My first reaction before I read it further was that you gave this place one star….as in “horrible food”. Only then did I look further and see that it refers to the prices.

Other people might open the article, see the one star, and then close it without giving it much of a chance. I think you could unintentionally be do a huge disservice to this and other places that would be a good place to consider in this current economy.

- Matt

Jenny Turknett

August 25th, 2011
12:53 pm

Hi Matt. The star rating is not in reference to the prices. One star means the restaurant is a worthy addition to the neighborhood but the food is hit and miss. There is a separate category for price range in the info box at the bottom of the review.

janet

August 25th, 2011
12:53 pm

The best Beignets in North Fulton are in Roswell at Artisan Bakery and Cafe on Canton St. Absolutely delicious and a beautiful outdoor deck to enjoy them.
Open Tuesday thru Saturday from 8am.

Cafe du Monde

August 25th, 2011
1:17 pm

$5 for three beignets??? That’s fried dough and powdered sugar. $2 at Cafe du Monde.

A

August 25th, 2011
1:23 pm

I still dislike your star system. To me a one star wouldn’t be worth trying out.

Cafe du Monde

August 25th, 2011
1:26 pm

A and Matt don’t bother. As great a job as these folks do on their restaurant reviews (I truly like their work) they stubbornly refuse to bend on a poorly designed rating system that most of the readers despise.

A

August 25th, 2011
1:52 pm

Agree. I especially love John’s writing (the Seasons 52 review up today is excellent), but again it got a 1 star, which in my mind means don’t bother. There are too many good restaurants around, and in this economy why would I take a chance on a 1 star, even if the descriptions says “a worthy addition to the neighborhood.” It really makes no sense to me.

Woodframes

August 25th, 2011
2:46 pm

I’ve tried this place 3 times now since they opened. I have tried very hard to like it cause I love nawlins food but I can’t overcome the bang for the buck. I’ve had a shrimp Po Boy which had 6 medium fried shrimp on it, I’ve ordered the fried shrimp platter and again I got 6 medium (31-35) shrimp. I then tried the muffuletta which was really a disappointment. It made me change my urban spoon rating from Like to Dislike.

AJ

August 25th, 2011
2:47 pm

Really, it’s a 7 star system. Unsatisfactory, Fair, and then the 5 stars. You clearly understand it as you’re all literate. So why is it hard to remember that 1 star means, it’s decent, but food is hit or miss. If they used just the 5 stars, it would bunch too many restaurants as 3 stars and that, to me, doesn’t give enough variety.

Chris

August 25th, 2011
3:08 pm

@AJ the way it is now the majority get 1-2 stars. Which is a 3-4 in your proposed “7 star system”. Is that really any different? Other than being a little more confusing, and lot more damaging as to what the perceived rating is?

Jenny Turknett

August 25th, 2011
4:08 pm

Janet – I agree. I also enjoy Artisan Foods Bakery!

A

August 25th, 2011
5:04 pm

Chris is right that most AJC reviews get 1 star, which doesn’t help us out at all.

Sophie's Choice

August 25th, 2011
9:40 pm

Their chicken salad is delicious, but I’m verrry picky about my etouffe– and their crawfish version was, quite frankly, borderline awful. It was GRAY, instead of the deep red-brown a proper etouffe should be. And bland– I’ve had vanilla ice cream that was spicier than this. Beignets are OK, nothing to write home about. You can order Cafe du Monde’s mix online, and make them much better (and more inexpensively) at home. These are nice folks, and I wanted to like them, but they need to step it up.

janet

August 28th, 2011
9:21 pm

Adele’s in Roswell opened last month. Family owned New Orleans restaurant. Good food, great service and fun ambience.
And if you go to Artisan Bakery Cafe before 10am : 3 beignets and coffee is $5.00. And you get the beautiful deck under the trees to sit and enjoy them.

janet

August 28th, 2011
9:24 pm

Give Adele’s in Roswell a try. A family owned New Orleans restaurant just off Holcomb Bridge Rd on Grimes Bridge Rd. Good food, service and nice, casual (of course) ambience.