Marjie’s sits on a stretch of Broad Street that is part residential, part commercial, part sketchy (with the New Orleans Criminal Court building close by) and part of a growing culinary cluster in Mid-City that includes Whole Foods Market, Ruby Slipper, Echo’s Pizza, Coffee Science, Fharmacy NOLA and others.
During the day, Broad street is a bustling and noisy scene. At night, it’s all a bit quieter, lit by neon and slightly less active. Marjie’s turquoise blue building looks like it could be someone’s home, chill and lit-from-within.
On the weekend, tables tend to be filled, but the wait tends to be short. While waiting, you can hang on the front stoop or backyard patio and hug a cool “adult beverage.” A spritz of any kind is perfect – give me any of co-owner Caitlyn Carney’s seasonal fruit, booze and soda water concoctions. There is no wrong here.
Once inside, Chef Marcus Jacobs spots me and whispers, “We have two orders of chili crabs left, you want me to save you one?” Yes, please.
This night, the dinner started with a Cocchi Americano Biancho, bridging the gap between sweet, tart and bubbly, and the crunch of fresh cracklin’ dusted in a blend of turmeric and chili spices. A special: the Chili Butter Hard Crabs – boiled Louisiana blue crabs, dredged in batter, fried, doused in a sharp, rich chili butter and given a fall of torn herbs and chives – are otherworldly.
Prepare to go in deep– breaking, cracking, sucking, devouring bits of crab meat, crust and chili butter. Try to ignore the stares from nearby tables. They want some, it’s 86’d, but I share. Crab-picking lovers, this is your dish.
Next came fresh grilled okra with tomatoes, vinegar and corn, slices of silky long-cooked lamb neck to roll into minty shiso leaves, sides of charred coal-roasted sweet potatoes, cool smashed cucumbers and chicken. Not just any chicken, half a Honey Butter Yardbird that’s spent a long time over those hot coals, and before plating, glazed with “Orleans Parish Honey Butter.” Cut into a crazy mix of about six pieces and served with a ramekin of wild, vinegary, roasted chiles sauce and a pile of pickled watermelon rind. This is food best eaten by hand. Bits of sweet juicy chicken with some char, grabbed with a wedge of pickled melon rind and dunked in the chile-vinegar sauce, makes for the perfect bite. Do that again and again ’til there is no more. Trust me.
And just when you think it’s impossible to eat anything else, there are desserts from Levee Baking Co. – a buttermilk chess pie or a rustic fruit tart – all crumbly, rich and insanely good.
Nope, Marjie’s is not new, but dinner at Marjie’s is the new hotness. In a very crowded field of contenders, there is something to be said for a restaurant powerful making food memories.