SHOWCASING LOUISIANA: New restaurant at The Myrtles serving up ‘contemporary history’

SHOWCASING LOUISIANA: The Myrtles Plantation opens new restaurant

ST. FRANCISVILLE, La. (WAFB) - A popular attraction in West Feliciana Parish known for its rich history and paranormal activity just got a face lift.

It’s known as one of America’s most haunted homes. The Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville is nestled behind live oak trees that are hundreds of years old and attracts guests from all over the world. The property owner, Morgan Moss, remembers when hundreds of guests were there on March 8, 2017, when a fire destroyed the carriage house restaurant and the gift shop.

“It was probably two weeks of panic of just like, what do we do? How does life go on? What’s the next chapter look like? How do we recover from this?" said Moss.

Morgan Moss, property owner
Morgan Moss, property owner (Source: WAFB)

Moss’ family was determined something better would rise from the ashes.

“Cast iron corn breads, open hearth cooking, just how things were done hundreds of years ago," Moss said.

The new restaurant, Restaurant 1796, is a contemporary nod to the history of The Myrtles, named after the year the plantation was built. It’s now open for business.

“We definitely consider it to be an experience, ya’ know, from the open, exposed kitchen and the transparency to be able to see what’s going on in there to how unique it is to be cooking on a wood fire hearth," said Moss.

(Source: WAFB)

Benjamin Lewis, who’s from Woodville, Mississippi, is the executive chef. He came back home after cooking in the Caribbean for three years to take over the kitchen and the massive wood-fired hearth.

“Having this right here next to the chef’s table, and I mean, it’s a full revolution of hunting camp to Caribbean to everything I like to do," Lewis said.

Benjamin Lewis, executive chef at Restaurant 1796
Benjamin Lewis, executive chef at Restaurant 1796 (Source: WAFB)
Benjamin Lewis, executive chef at Restaurant 1796
Benjamin Lewis, executive chef at Restaurant 1796 (Source: WAFB)

The menu is a mix of southern staples like red beans and rice and seafood dishes the chef mastered in the Caribbean, bringing in not only tourists, but local families as well.

“We just thought that we would come here today, tour the plantation and eat lunch," said one guest.

“This is actually my first time. It’s a nice atmosphere," one diner said.

“We’re all guilty of undervaluing those attractions that we have immediately in our neighborhood. When you travel as a tourist and you see that stuff, it’s just so much more exciting than it is when it’s ten miles from home, but the restaurant food was a way to get people onto the property and to bridge that gap,” said Moss.

Of course with the reputation The Myrtles has, we had to ask if the grounds are haunted.

“I wouldn’t say no just yet, but I’ve not seen anything crazy happening in the restaurant yet," Moss said.

The key word there being “yet.” The new restaurant has only been open for a few months, and it’s a proud accomplishment for Moss’ family as he reflects back on the questions they were asking themselves just two years ago.

(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

“How do we make something new and bigger and brighter than what we previously had, that’s a stronger staple in the community and just go a different direction with it and a whole new identity and we feel like we’ve captured that,” Moss said.

WAFB’s Louisiana Weekend crew looked into some of the signature cocktails and dishes at Restaurant 1796, not to mention some of the spooky things that have reportedly happened on other parts of the property. Click here to see what they found.

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