Like waking a hibernating bear, waking a dormant stomach causes violent growls that can only be silenced by plates of fresh fish and 20 minutes of gentle patting. Ward off vicious appetites with today’s Groupon: for $10, you get $20 worth of small plates and creole cuisine at Mia's Balcony on St. Charles Avenue.
From a central post by the St. Charles streetcar line, Mia's Balcony's chefs churn out contemporary creole dishes and innovative small plates, injecting modern flair into down-home Louisiana cooking. Guests can divvy up small plates of pan-roasted oysters Orleans ($9) or brandish mint-lamb lollipops with hummus and pita, flagrantly defying the food pyramid's rigid hierarchy ($12). More substantial meals of pecan chicken ($16) command ranks of asparagus spears and sweet-potato wedges, and the catch of the day ($18) complements its grilled or blackened outfit with accessories of rice and sautéed vegetables. The alligator hash's fried Louisiana gator ($15) lurks beneath a bed of creole hash potatoes, poached eggs, and creamy hollandaise sauce, emerging only to snap at shiny wristwatches and drag down flailing napkins. For fits of spice-prompted thirst, a roster of specialty cocktails, wines, and beers patiently waits beneath the polished wood bar's hanging lights to cleanse palates between small-plate sampling.
Mia's yellow façade houses a warm, rustic dining room flanked by exposed-brick walls, fireplaces, and local art. Diners can sashay through red-painted doors onto the open-air patio to watch televised college and pro football games or speed-paint portraits of passing streetcar riders.
Overlooking St. Charles Avenue, Mia's Balcony offers Mardi Gras revelers a central view of grand, glittering floats and shimmering beads. But the restaurant isn’t content to host a party once a year; on the other 364 days, visitors cheer on the college, professional, and sock-puppet football games broadcast over the patio's outdoor televisions, and a banquet room is available for private soirees. While watching a Saints or LSU game or just chatting, guests can share small plates of seared scallops on the half-shell or fish croquettes or dig into substantial entrees such as pepper-jelly lamb chops. On weekend mornings, the chefs prepare brunch dishes including creole omelets and veal grillades over grits.
Local artwork, exposed-brick walls, and fireplaces set an inviting scene indoors. Bartenders fill glasses with craft beers, wine, and potent cocktails such as the French 75, a champagne- and gin-based drink based on a vintage recipe.