At the Flyer, we are a mix of vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores, so we've been checking regularly on the progress of Dejavu, a new downtown restaurant offering healthy and affordable food for all types of eaters. "Call me if they're open," urged a co-worker as we headed out to find the restaurant, tucked behind D. Canale Beverages on Florida Street.
Apparently, plenty of other customers have been anticipating the latest culinary partnership between vegetarian chef Bastet Ivery and Creole chef Gary Williams, formerly of Java, Juice and Jazz.
"We're already serving 45 or 50 people a day," Ivery says, explaining Dejavus daily menu of Creole soul food (grilled tilapia, shrimp po boys, smothered pork chops) and vegetarian specials (barbecue tofu pizza, citrus spinach, vegan crab cakes). "We know this: People follow good food."
Once a small church, the refurbished brick building already feels like part of the neighborhood, thanks to affable employees and delicious food. The prices help, too: $6.99 for one meat, two sides, and corn bread.
Entrées (both Creole and vegan) change every day, emphasizing seasonal foods, natural ingredients, and organic produce when possible. Side items offer a list of familiar favorites updated with the chefs secret spices: greens, bok choy, okra, grilled cabbage, roasted garlic potatoes, and candied yams.
"We use quality ingredients for all of our food," Ivery says. "Even our Creole food is made without white flour or iodized salt. People are looking to eat healthy, whether they eat meat or not."
The same standards apply to the restaurant's desserts, including vegan choices such as carrot raisin bread and cheesecake, and more traditional selections baked by Ivery's mother, Lea Robinson.
"My mom's a Southerner, and she knows how to make a coconut cake," Ivery says.
For now, the restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and closed on Sundays. "We are hoping to expand our hours," Ivery says, "but we want to get a feel for the area first."
Dejavu Creole Soul Food and Vegetarian Restaurant, 936 Florida (942-1400)
by Pamela Denney