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Among the many bistros along Magazine Street, this way-Uptown standard-bearer is more traditionally French than some in terms of decor and wine selections. Ambience-wise, there’s a comfortably welcoming groove here. Food is a distinctive mélange of Creole creativity, local ingredients, keen, classic technique, and the adroit palate of chef/Owner/Top Chef contestant Justin Devillier. We believe deeply in the steak tartare (which comes and goes from the menu) and require the blue crab beignets as well as the ricotta dumplings with lobster and fresh peas. The chefs are also soup geniuses here, making preliminary courses a tough choice. For entrees, the smoky shrimp and grits with roasted mushrooms is one of the better treatments we’ve tried; and the beef tenderloin gets a deep, satisfying sear from the pan roasting. They also deliver a perfect cheeseburger with perfect fries. Save space for dessert, where superstar pastry chef Bronwen Wyatt crushes it. Her floral addition to a simple local strawberry shortcake changed our view of that dessert forever; she exalts a silky cheesecake with cardamom and candied kumquats. The bar can get pretty lively—good or not-so-much depending on your goals for the evening (we start there, munching on sides of fried green beans). The usually on-point service might suffer a tad during peak periods.