A Coast mansion that has been the scene of many a wedding now includes fine dining in its offerings.
The hard opening for Oak Crest Mansion Inn’s Julep Room was Sept. 16, Oak Crest General Manager Alicia Cool-Lick said.
“We’ve had a full kitchen since the ballroom was completed four and a half years ago,” she said. The kitchen has been used for weddings and other events held regularly there, but Oak Crest had not been able to set up for dining until eight months ago, when Sunday brunch began.
“When I came on board, we started offering afternoon tea,” she said. “We’ve been building on what we had.”
The kitchen is Chef JeanPaul Lavallee’s domain.
A native of Quebec, Lavallee has “been in the States quite a while,” Cool-Lick said. “He has 30-plus years of food and beverage experience, and a few years ago we were lucky enough to get him here on the Gulf Coast.”
There are 35 seats in The Julep Room, plus private dining is available in rooms such as the study, Cool-Lick said.
The dinner menu offers appetizers, soups and salads, side dishes, entrees and desserts.
“The Oysters Rockefeller on our appetizer menu is amazing,” Cool-Lick said. “I just had the bone-in veal chop. The Chilean Sea Bass is delightful, and so is the Lobster Mac and Cheese.”
Fried Oysters Rockefeller is $16, and the Lobster Truffle Mac and Cheese, also on the appetizer menu, is $15. The 12-ounce veal chop with French mushroom bordelaise sauce is $30. The Chilean Sea Bass, pan-seared with Vermouth butter cream and served on a bed of julienned vegetables, is $36.
Lavallee gives a different spin to Oak Crest Shrimp & Grits ($30), Cool-Lick said.
“He fries our grits into grits cakes, and they’re served next to our sauteed giant fresh Gulf shrimp with applewood-smoked bacon cream sauce,” she said.
Cool-Lick says The Julep Room’s Prohibition-era cocktails are the bee’s knees.
“We did a lot of research,” she said. “The house was built in 1920, and there’s the rumor that you could buy bootleg liquor on the front porch. So we have one drink, the Howard Hughes Aviator, that’s gin-based.”
There’s also a Champagne cocktail and a Prohibition-style martini.
“They made martinis differently then,” she said. “Back then, it was a 50/50 martini — 50 percent vodka or gin and 50 percent vermouth. Gin was really popular back in the ’20s.”