The mix-ups almost write themselves: Poulette is the French bistro that Perig Goulet is opening in the former Lana. And Purlieu is the French bistro that John Zucker is opening six blocks away at the corner of Fishburne and President streets.
“It’s crazy,” Zucker says of the similar-sounding names. Still, the owner of Cru Café and Cru Catering is confident Purlieu will distinguish itself as a homey neighborhood restaurant with chicken liver mousse and braised lamb necks on the menu.
“We’re hoping we can fill a little niche,” Zucker says.
Although the restaurant will open with a lineup of fairly traditional French dishes, Zucker plans to add items that draw inspiration from beyond the nation’s borders. “We’re going to say eclectic, so that way it doesn’t hold us down to French,” he says of Purlieu’s cooking style. “I have fusion in my blood.”
Jeff Williams will serve as executive chef. He nearly two years ago joined Cru after working at restaurants including FIG and Cassique. Because Williams’ wife had a baby around the time that he took the Cru job, Zucker says the slow pace of Purlieu’s development gave Williams extra time to spend with his family.
Zucker in 2015 purchased the property that Jeffrey Roberts had intended to turn into Westside Deli. As the building’s owner, Zucker was able to rent out residential space while he plotted Purlieu.
The name was chosen partly because it’s a homophone for “pilau” in the Lowcountry, and partly because it translates to “a piece of land at the forest’s edge.” At this point, the Westside is on the fringes of the city’s culinary growth. But Zucker anticipates that dynamic will change with the coming of WestEdge, the residential and commercial complex going up across from Brittlebank Park.
“We weren’t in a rush because we know the neighborhood is going to be a little bit more happening,” Zucker says. “And we want to contribute to that.”
Purlieu hasn’t yet projected an opening date.