Justine was born out of a dream of Justin and Mia Devillier, the husband-wife team behind the French Quarter jewel box housed in the historic May & Ellis building on Chartres Street. They wanted to create a place that captures the shared celebratory approach that Parisians and New Orleanians revel in when it comes to food and dining out.
The Devilliers worked closely with design group Farouki Farouki to conceptualize the 200-seat grand hall, which pays homage to classic French styling complemented by an irreverent sense of Big Easy joie de vivre. It is filled with a collection of imported artifacts culled from trips to French salvage yards, including a 20-foot zinc bar and a hand-painted tin marquee that once hung at a Parisian butcher shop and now graces the wall above Justine’s open kitchen.
As the NoLa-based design studio behind many award-winning spaces such as MayPop and Saffron puts it, “The interior design paints a picture of the culturally interconnected histories of Paris and New Orleans but with a modern brush.”
The space is broken up into a series of rooms inviting you deeper into a vieux carré constellation of bold colors and neon accents. Enter through the open-air cafe room with a distinctly Parisian sidewalk feel where a series of wheat paste street collages adorn the walls.
Venture on to the bar room where guests linger over drinks in plush banquettes surrounded by diamond-patterned smoke glass mirrors and brass accents, followed by the kitchen room where patrons can take in James Beard Award-winning chef Devillier and team in action from communal tables and raised, round booths.
The intimate rear dining room features a topographic mural by local artist Ellen Macomber celebrating New Orleans’ tricentennial. Finally, the restaurant is anchored by an outdoor dining space featuring a custom absinthe decanter-inspired fountain, lush plantings, and a textured candlelit weathered masonry wall that feels like stepping back in time—to a Parisian subterranean club or a New Orleans speakeasy: It’s anyone’s guess.
Channeling Justine’s Style
Cozy seating encourages guests to linger over onion soup and steak frites. Williams-Sonoma provides accessible options to complete the ambiance in bentwood cane cafe chairs and curved leather banquettes to create a lounge à la carte. Bentwood chairs, $395; leather banquette, $3,199; williams-sonoma.com
Farouki Farouki collaborated with graphic design studio the Made Shop on the environmental graphic design—from surrealist street collages and portraits of Hemingway and Degas to a custom neon script of the eatery namesake above the doorway. Subvert expectations by designing your own custom sign for a pop of whimsy. Prices vary, yellowpop.com
Two notable murals adorn the walls of Justine, each by local artist Ellen Macomber—one celebrating New Orleans’ tricentennial, the other tying in Parisian artwork. Add character to your space with an Ellen Macomber piece depicting New Orleans’ topography. $500, ellenmacomber.com
- by Trisha Boyer