Nawlins comes to Healdsburg at The Parish Cafe


“The first time  you walk in, we want you to feel like you’ve been here a hundred times,” says Bradley Blanchard, setting down a half pound Muffaletta sandwich on my table with a wink. Despite looking easily half my age, he’s called me “Baby” at least three times, with the same kind of boyish Southern charm as his cousin, Parish Cafe owner Rob Lippincott. I can’t say I mind being fawned over. Nor will you.

With all of the easy of The Big Easy, Lippincott’s New Orleans cafe draws you in with homey charm, Southern comfort and a menu that’s pure French Quarter. Open for breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Sunday, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more authentic Louisiana cooking this side of the mighty Miss.

Breakfast includes a crawfish and Andouille omelet;($11) Egg St. Charles (poached egg with fried trout, $14); Shrimp Grits with Creole tomato sauce ($12), Pain Perdu (French toast with bananas and Bourbon sauce, $9) and Lippincott’s signature Beignets (three for $5), which he’s sold for several years at local farm markets. You’re required, at least by me, to eat those beignets — lightly fried pastries with a dusting of powdered sugar — with Cafe au Lait ($3.50), a heavenly mix of half-and-half and chicory coffee often associated with the famous Cafe Du Monde.

Lunch is a hearty affair with ten different Po-Boys — the signature sandwich of New Orleans served on a light and fluffy French baguette. Lippincott’s in-laws (who own nearby Costeaux French Bakery) make the loaves specially for the restaurant, which are stuffed with fried shrimp, fried oysters (go for the half-and-half, with a mix of both oysters and shrimp), catfish or fried green tomatoes (half or King-sized, $7-$15). Several come with “debris” gravy, pronounced day-bray, a salty, meaty roast beef au jus (which I ordered on the side to dip my fries). The Muffaletta (another NOLA staple) is round of focaccia piled with ham, salami, mortadella, provolone, mozzarella and house made olive spread ($12-18).

What you’re absolutely here for, however, is the gumbo, made with chicken and Andouille in authentic Southern style with okra, tomatoes, green peppers and served over white rice ($6). Order a side of feather-light hush puppies ($4) and fried okra (which is breaded fresh, so there’s no slime, $3).

You’ll pull away from the table full, no matter what you order. It’s Lippincott and Blanchard’s mission to send you away happy.

“This could easily become a habit,” says a customer waddling out the door. But not before Lippincott hollers after him, “Come back soon, ya’ll.” 60A Mill St., Healdsburg, 431-8474.