“Growing up I would visit my grandmother in New Orleans. I remember the layout of her house and exactly where the kitchen was. I remember the smells—shrimp in the sink about to be peeled, stuffed artichokes in the oven, and the spinach Madeline casserole browning,” says Chef Hunter Evans.
The New Orleans cuisine and food culture that Hunter experienced during those childhood visits would come full circle when, after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he returned to his hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, to open Elvie’s, a farm-to-table restaurant named after his grandmother Elvaretta May Good.
“Elvie’s offers a modern take on classic French cuisine through the lens of Southern culinary traditions and ingredients,” he says. “Since returning to Jackson, I’ve been able to form strong relationships with Mississippi farmers and purveyors that showcase regional ingredients. It’s great because it gives Elvie’s delicious food but also gives these local farmers and fisherman a loyal client.”
The charming atmosphere at Elvie’s fits the NOLA cafe vibe to a tee. Hunter chose a 1940s house in the historic Belhaven neighborhood as his location and enlisted Jackson-based creative and design firms Jonathan Shull Design and Land vs Ocean to transform the space while preserving its historic character. Timeless design elements, such as plaster walls and a white marble bar, nod to the classic restaurants found throughout New Orleans and the South.
Chef Hunter Evans’ Taste of Jackson
We asked Hunter to share a recipe with us, plus a few of his hometown favorites for anyone visiting the city for the first time.
“Elvie’s Redfish Almondine stands out as the perfect example of the ‘Mississippi French’ style of cooking that I modeled Elvie’s after and truly embodies what we’re all about,” he says. “The dish uses Mississippi redfish, locally sourced from the Gulf, and is served with brown butter, charred lemon puree, almonds, and capers, which add the French flavor. It’s plated on a bed of slightly wilted lettuce for a dash of bitterness to balance the richness of the sauce and garnished with chives and fresh parsley for a hint of brightness.” See recipe.
Where to Stay
Fairview Inn—a boutique hotel in the Belhaven neighborhood (same neighborhood as Elvie’s). It is walking distance to the Fondren Historic District and its array of shops, restaurants, and galleries.
What to See and Do
The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is a must-visit. If you’re looking for a way to enjoy the weather on a nice day, take a walk along Jackson’s new Arts Museum Trail, which starts in Belhaven and takes you to the Civil Rights Museum and eventually the Mississippi Museum of Art, where you can see The Art Garden—my favorite garden in the city.
Head to Cathead Distillery for distillery tours and live music.
Favorite Floral Designer
Hands down, Little Bluestem, a flower farm and floral design studio. Their arrangements are simple and beautiful.
Where to Eat and Drink
We love The Apothecary at Brent’s Drugs, a nationally acclaimed speakeasy in Jackson’s Fondren neighborhood.
Native Coffee is an Elvie’s staff favorite spot for pastries and coffee. Everyone drinks the iced vanilla latte with oat milk!
For lunch or dinner: Go to Edo for sushi and sake, Bully’s for the best meat and three in town, or Big Apple Inn for the adventurous and delicious pig ear sandwich. Or, visit Elvie’s for the seasonal seven-course tasting menu, which showcases classic Southern recipes executed with French techniques and created with Mississippi ingredients from our local farmers and purveyors.
Elvie’s Redfish Almondine
Courtesy of Chef Hunter Evans | Makes 2 servings
Editor’s note: You will have leftover Brown Butter and Charred Lemon Puree after preparing Redfish Almondine. If you are multiplying this recipe for more diners, you will already have plenty of these components. Store the leftovers in the refrigerator, and use throughout the week on vegetables, chicken, fish, or shellfish.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 filets of Redfish, about 8 ounces, skinless
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ pound butter (for Brown Butter; instructions follow), plus 2 tablespoons
- 1 head of Bibb lettuce, cleaned and picked
- 2 tablespoons capers
- Charred Lemon Puree (in squeeze bottle; recipe follows)
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- ¼ cup fresh chives, sliced thin
- ¼ cup picked fresh parsley leaves
- Maldon sea salt to finish
- 1 whole lemon, sliced
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In an oven-safe sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat.
- Season fish filets liberally with salt and pepper.
- Dredge the top of the filets (not skin side) in a little flour and shake off excess.
- When the oil is hot, gently place the fish, flour side down, in the pans and sear until golden brown, about 5 minutes. If it begins to get too much color, turn the heat down or remove from heat.
- Finish cooking the fish in the oven without flipping, about 4 minutes.
- While the fish is in the oven, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large sauté pan, and add Bibb lettuce leaves. Coat with butter and cook until the lettuce begins to wilt. Cut off the heat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pull fish out when it’s ready and flip.
- In two bowls, divide the wilted Bibb lettuce.
- Place fish on top.
- Spoon some of the Brown Butter and capers over the fish.
- Squeeze 4 dots of the Charred Lemon Puree around the fish.
- Sprinkle with almonds, chives, parsley, and Maldon sea salt.
- Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
You can make brown butter ahead of time, and store it in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- In a small sauce pan, add ½ pound butter and melt over medium-high heat.
- Continue stirring until the butter begins to turn brown and smell nutty.
- Cut off the heat; continue to stir and scrape all of the good bits off the bottom.
- Once it has cooled for 5 minutes, add the capers for Redfish Almondine recipe (if you add the capers too early the butter will overflow).
Charred Lemon Puree
Makes 4 cups
- 4 cups sliced lemons, charred on the grill
- ½ cup oil
- ¼ cup honey
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup water (may need to add more)
- Place all ingredients in a food processor (Elvie’s uses a Vitamix), and puree until smooth. If the food processor is struggling, add more water. Store in the refrigerator.
Article by Terri Robertson | Recipe by Chef Hunter Evans | Photography courtesy of Elvie’s, elviesrestaurant.com