Justin LeBlanc had particular ideas in mind when he left the fine dining realm in 2013 to buy River Pond Seafood, a seafood market and sandwich shop along Airline Drive. They weren’t about reinventing the form, however, but instead reinvigorating it with the next generation’s read on the essentials.
Bevi Seafood serves po-boys, plate lunches and boiled seafood, it sells fresh seafood from a retail counter, and, in the process, it joins a small current of new eateries that dial back to an older model of New Orleans flavor imbued with new energy.
“We’re still that traditional place that just does things a little different, that’s what we’re shooting for,” LeBlanc said. “You take what people want, you try to make it a little better. People respect that and they respond to it.”
Now he’s doing it again in Mid-City, where his second Bevi Seafood Co. opened Friday at the address that was long known as K-Jean’s Seafood (and, more recently, as Cajun Brothers).
While the exterior looks little changed, LeBlanc and his family spent the past few months reworking the interior, which now has a new dining counter trimmed in gleaming tile, room for more tables and a full bar. Like the original Bevi Seafood Co., the beating heart of this market/eatery is the big boiling room in back, where shrimp and crabs are in play now.
In its heyday, K-Jean’s was a Mid-City standby for boiled seafood, and LeBlanc knows its story well. The New Orleans native had one of his first restaurant jobs at the French steakhouse Chateaubriand, which was once across the street (LeBlanc went on to other fine dining kitchens, and was executive chef at the Southern Yacht Club before starting his own business). He remembers how K-Jean’s once drew people from many adjacent neighborhoods to its busy corner, and he’s eager to revive that status.
It feels like the stage is well set here. After Hurricane Katrina, the old K-Jean’s was built anew from the ground up and now, between its cinderblock walls, there’s a serious boiling operation and a back deck arrayed like a loading dock to send off big orders.
At the same time, a larger kitchen at his new Mid-City location means this Bevi will be able to work up a bigger menu as it gets rolling. From the standards of fried seafood platters, BBQ shrimp and hot tamales by the dozen, Bevi’s menu brings oyster po-boys finished with pastrami bacon and smoked Gouda, a pimento grilled cheese, a po-boy designed to fight hangovers (the Cure, with hot sausage and eggs), and the “Messi swine,” a tribute to LeBlanc’s Hogs for the Cause cook-off team that’s loaded with ham, cochon de lait, pork belly and bacon fat mayo for a four-part pork po-boy.
236 N. Carrollton Ave., (504) 488-7503
Lunch and dinner Tue.-Sun.
4701 Airline Drive, Metairie, (504) 885-5003
Lunch Wed.-Mon., dinner Fri.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.