Stepping into Palmyre is Acadiana’s equivalent of falling down the rabbit hole. One moment you’re strolling through River Ranch, but once the double doors open, you’re sent swirling into a kaleidoscope of refined maximalism. From the Gucci wallpaper to the martini shakers filled with dreamy botanicals, the scene is plucked straight from a Sophia Coppla movie.
Palmyre is the passion project of husband-and-wife team Stuart and Colleen Ottinger. This is the second time the duo has collaborated – the first being Mercy Kitchen on Verot School Road. Palmyre’s origin story is a personal one for Colleen.
“Palmyre Billeaud was my great-great grandmother,” Ottinger explains. “She was Lafayette’s original socialite, but she was down to earth in the way that people in this area tend to be. She was beloved. Creating this space in her honor meant everything to me. I wanted guests to feel like they were stepping into her home.”
The idea of being a guest in a Southern socialite’s home is what shaped the food and drink selection. The Palmyre approach is to shoot for the stars, and land in your own backyard. The cocktails and bites are fanciful, but not fussy; elegant, but approachable. While so much of Palmyre is an ode to extreme opulence, the menu is a whisper, not a shout. No single item can be described as “too” anything. Be it truffled deviled eggs, caviar, tuna served with Zapp’s, a rosy champagne cocktail or a charcuterie spread that spans the length of the table, it will be soft, fresh and an absolute delight.
“Ray Ward is our VP of Libations for our hospitality group, Oxford Provisions,” Colleen gushes. “Stuart has been in the hospitality business for over 20 years. He has run more than 50 restaurants in his lifetime. He handpicked Ray to execute our personal concepts. They worked together in the past and he was a standout. Having Ray on our team was an integral component to meet Stuart’s high-quality expectations. It is Ray who deserves the credit. He is the man behind the lady, Palmyre.”
From cover to cover of the handcrafted silk menus, everything is meticulous. When it comes to cocktails, they are created with equal parts balance and creativity. The wine list is curated with one of the uppermost sources of wine knowledge and passion around, Sommeliere Lauren Blanda.
If this is all beginning to sound like a dose of glamorous psychedelics, let us not forget the importance of set and setting. Deep blue toile against le tigre ottomans, circus top splashes of red and white and oversized vintage prints. To perfectly execute her vision, Colleen was lucky enough to be able to tap interior designer-to-the-stars Lindsay Rhodes. Whose resume includes the home of “Golden Hour” starlet Kacey Musgraves, which graced the cover of “Architectural Digest.”
“Lindsay is a badass,” Colleen laughs. “She’s a decorator to the stars and she just happens to be my dear friend. Having her on this project was a game changer.”
The collaborative attention to detail can be seen from the hostess stand to the bathrooms. A visit to the powder room at Palmyre is like getting lost in your fairy godmother’s bathroom, with sprays of Bond No. 9 and flickers of Diptyque candles.
Palmyre twinkles – perfect lighting, clinking crystal and blazing trails of sparklers making their way to a table of merrymakers. Every trip to Palmyre feels like a celebration, because it is. It is a celebration of a part of Acadiana’s culture we don’t revel in quite enough.
“As a region we do such a wonderful job of representing our Cajun French culture,” Colleen reflects. “But we lacked a nod to our grandiose French roots. Palymre is that nod, and then some.”
3 MUST HAVES
The locally sourced bowfin caviar is presented with Zapp’s chips in a brown paper bag, crème fraiche and fresh chives. Last but not least, don’t forget your beverage! An ice cold shot of potato vodka will complement the flavors tremendously.
A Rose By Any Other Name
A cocktail that fits its locale. Light, crisp, floral and effervescent. The Amber Rose is a tapestry of vodka, rose and bubbles, gracefully woven together to turn you into a carousing debauchee.
Hot & Boozy
Butter my butt and call me a biscuit. Served hot and boozy, the #41 dessert cocktail checks all of the boxes. All the components come together to bring you the perfect nightcap. Spiced butter and pecan infused bourbon topped with our amaro whipped cream and cinnamon.