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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: French Market & Tavern

IMG_7879Here’s a most excellent Southside tip. When you find yourself hungry and driving up I-75 with too many miles between you and Atlanta, consider the three-minute detour to downtown Locust Grove and the French Market & Tavern.

This smartly rehabbed 1906 hardware store features a  houseware/garden shop to appeal to the roadside knickknackologist in you. Then, when you keep walking through the shop towards the back room, you’ll find a lively New Orleans style cafe. With its tables made from the building’s recovered heart-of-pine flooring, comfortable sling-back chairs, ample natural light, a solid crowd and a happy sense of contained clutter, this restaurant gives off a warm vibe.

We visited at lunch when the menu focuses on sandwiches, salads and burgers. It goes a bit more upscale at night. We found the food solid — maybe not worth the drive from Atlanta in and of itself, but a lot better than many of the local attempts at Cajun and Creole cooking. For instance, the house chicken and andouille gumbo gets a nice layering of flavors from its chocolate roux. It’s real gumbo. And yet it isn’t one of those treasure-trove gumbos where each spoonful reveals a nugget of surprise. I would have liked at least one coin of andouille.

IMG_7876Here’s the “Dream Weaver,” a sloppy, gravy-drippy roast beef and Swiss cheese sandwich with a side of gravy fries. Not complaining.

IMG_7875The po’ boys are classics — dressed with care, easy to assembled and eat. But I do have a couple of complaints. 1) Our oysters were perfectly juiceless. 2) The Leidenheimer bread imported from New Orleans hadn’t been warmed enough to crisp the crust. That crispness makes it for me. Still, I found the sandwich enjoyable, aided by its tasty side of red beans and rice.

IMG_7877There’s a big display of layer cakes, which we found too hard to resist. Both the lemonade cake and the salted caramel crunch cake hit the spot. Owner Rick Weaver told me they bring these cakes in, but that his wife, Laura, often makes the breakfast pastries.

I like this restaurant. It really seems like an important part of its community.

But after dining at French Market Tavern I had po’ boys on the brain, so I decided it was time for a revisit to Crawfish Shack Seafood on Buford Highway.

Some New Orleanians might take exception to this rendition:

IMG_7889For starters, the restaurant uses Amoroso bread rolls from Philadelphia, and they slice them down rather than across. The oysters come slathered with remoulade sauce rather than dressed with mayonnaise. But the kick of spice from the sauce, the red ripe tomatoes and the burstlingly juicy oysters win my heart.

IMG_7895I also got a bonus in this po’ boy. A pearl!

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

8 comments Add your comment

Art

August 6th, 2013
2:53 pm

JK, I’m impressed that you travelled all the way to Locust Grove. While this place would require me to pack an overnight bag, I’ll definitely “bookmark” it the next time we’re headed south on I-75. Thanks as well for the tip about the Crawfish Shack; that one’s a bit closer and I often have “po’ boys on the brain”.

Baltisraul....

August 6th, 2013
3:27 pm

I used a chocolate roux in one of my chilies so the gumbo sounds great to me.

Matt

August 6th, 2013
4:01 pm

TFM&T is breath of fresh air in the vast wasteland that is generally the Henry County dining scene. Another good one is Pasta Max off the square in McDonough.

Darin

August 7th, 2013
9:49 am

Wow — looks good. I didn’t even know there WAS a downtown Locust Grove. I’ll have to remember this.

Dianne

August 7th, 2013
10:08 am

Should have tried the muffalatta with extra olive dressing!

Lou

August 7th, 2013
4:43 pm

The food at Crawfish Shack is very good, but I am one of those Louisiana people that really believe the Leidenheimer or even Gambino’s (both from NOLA) would be a better choice for their po’ boys. Have tried them and they are ok. But not the real deal. I’ll stick with their other menu items until they get a southern bread vs philly cheesesteak bread…..it’s all in the bread and certain sandwiches deserve their own bread.

HotlantaHobo

August 8th, 2013
10:48 am

Actually Alon’s makes a demi baguette that makes a po-boy more like the bread from the old John Gendusa’s bakery in New Orleans. Gendusa supplied the bread for Galatoire’s for many years. I believe they are now in Gentilly and in business. The great muffalatta bread was made by the United Bakery (washed away by Katrina and Ain’t Dere No Mo’) and Gendusa’s had the best French breads but Leidenheimer’s was the more well-known survivor.

Interestingly enough, Jenny gave this place a bad review several months ago. Either John has different ideas or it’s improved a good bit. But again, no New Orleans food for Atlanta…have to drive many miles to get something that resembles the real thing.

ex chef

August 10th, 2013
2:24 am

That’s so funny that you got a pearl! We got one in an oyster on the 1/2 shell last week!