With locations in St. Bernard, Slidell and Abita Springs, this small chain of neighborhood-style restaurants cooks a surprisingly wide menu of local specialties and seafood. The place goes from red beans and poor boys to steaks with complicated sauces. The imaginative interior design--created by local artist Luis Colmenares--are a surprise for the first-time diner. It's almost too slick.
The original Camellia Cafe opened in 2004 in Slidell, "The Camellia City." (No connection with the Camellia Grill.) The owners previously (and still) operated a cafe in the Stennis Space Center's visitor center. The Abita Springs branch came along in 2006, with another (originally called the Riverbend Bistro, but now bearing the same name as the others) opening in Arabi the same year..
Designer Luis Colmenares--whose other works include the Red Fish Grill and Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse--designed the restaurants. He and the owners gathered local artists to fill the walls, floors, and tabletops with interesting and unmistakably local visuals. The Abita Springs restaurant is the most colorful and comfortable, but all have a similar motif. Service was not especially well trained in the beginning, but in recent times the dining room is managed sharply.
Every serving here, with the possible exception of the steaks, constitutes too much food. Take it very easy on ordering. That bread pudding? Enough for four.