“Are we in the right place?” I peered at my phone as our Uber driver drove around a residential New Orleans neighborhood.
The place in question was called the Mosquito Supper Club, and it looked more like someone’s warmly lit, double-shotgun home than our dining location of the night. We’d soon learn this was part of the charm. As Rachel and I hesitantly exited our Uber into the drizzly night air, our host, Ellen, opened the door to welcome us in.
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It didn’t take long, but we soon realized just how unique our experience was going to be. When we entered the house on 3825 Dryades Street, we found ourself at what felt like an intimate dinner party instead of a bustling restaurant.
Our eight dining companions were already seated around a long table, slowly warming up to each other. We took our seats between a family looking at wedding venues and a Canadian man on his umpteenth trip down south purely to indulge in its culinary scene.
While the food began to roll out, any initial awkwardness dissipated as we talked about ourselves and, of course, what we were all doing in New Orleans.
In addition to our seat neighbors, we met two women from Massachusetts who were on their way to Puerto Rico next and a younger couple from Baltimore in town for a work conference.
The Food of the Bayou
The real star of the night, of course, was the food made by Melissa Martin, who prefers to call herself a cook, not a chef.
As we chatted, Ellen gradually brought us dish after dish of delicious Cajun cuisine. Fresh salad, stuffed crabs, gumbo… Martin grew up eating swamp Cajun (vs. prairie Cajun), and all the recipes are perfected from her childhood. This is also where Mosquito Supper Club gets its name. Cajun cuisine may differ from place to place, but it always has mosquitos in common.
Just as we got our last serving of raspberry ice cream, Martin, herself, made a small appearance to chat about the club, her food, and her work. Hearing her story brought a whole new layer to our experience.
Martin grew up in a tiny, sleepy fishing town called Chauvin, a good 70 miles from New Orleans. Any food she ate came fresh from the sea and filtered through her mother and grandmother’s recipes. In fact, she didn’t know what a bagel was until she left for college.
It’s taken time for Martin to return to her roots with the supper club. Before Katrina, she taught adult literacy and was the operation’s manager of the local farmer’s market. She then went across the country to Napa Valley. When she returned, she ran a catering company and helped open Satsuma Café before settling into an executive chef position at Café Hope. Along the way she approached food the way her family did in her childhood– with her local surroundings in mind. In an ideal world, she could make you a dish and tell you from whom all the ingredients came. (Source)
Over time, she began her supper club. Every recipe and dish is made very simply. They come from her grandmother and mother, and they’re cooked exactly how she grew up seeing them made. While many restaurants serve Cajun dishes with a fancy twist, hers go back to the basics of the cuisine.
Her main goal? To preserve her family’s and hometown’s history through food. This is something that has become increasingly important considering Chauvin is slowly disappearing with Louisiana’s coastline.
Visiting the Mosquito Supper Club
Rachel and I both agreed that of all the things we loved about our New Orleans trip, this dinner was our favorite experience. There’s something really special about feeling like you’re at an intimate dinner party with food that’s still making me salivate now, months later. And there’s something even more special knowing that food is made with a unique kind of passion and heart.
If you want to make reservations, you can just check out their website. It’s only open Thursday – Saturday. There are only 24 seats available at the most, so you definitely want to make sure you book ahead.
You can also see their press page on their website. It’ll give you a lot more information about the club and Martin. She’s very low-profile in person, so I found out most of her accomplishments through those articles.
Have you been to the Mosquito Supper Club or anything like it?
For more on NOLA:
- The Perfect New Orleans Itinerary for 4 Days
- Where to Eat in New Orleans
- 22 Things to Do in the Historical French Quarter
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We were guests of Mosquito Supper Club via Visit New Orleans. As always, all opinions are my own. Trust me, I wouldn’t be dedicating an entire article to one eating experience if I didn’t love it so much!