3 Fleur
Average check per person $35-$45
BreakfastNo Breakfast SundayNo Breakfast MondayNo Breakfast TuesdayNo Breakfast WednesdayNo Breakfast ThursdayNo Breakfast FridayNo Breakfast Saturday
LunchNo Lunch SundayNo Lunch MondayNo Lunch TuesdayNo Lunch WednesdayNo Lunch ThursdayNo Lunch FridayNo Lunch Saturday
DinnerDinner SundayNo Dinner MondayNo Dinner TuesdayDinner WednesdayDinner ThursdayDinner FridayDinner Saturday

Sapphire

ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
A few months ago I asked the listeners to my radio show what restaurant they’d like to see open in New Orleans, with a mind to seeing where the trends are heading. What we heard was the opposite thing: wishes that certain extinct restaurants would reopen.

That must have come as good news to the owners of Sapphire, a place that opened late last year in Slidell. The headline of Sapphire’s prospectus is that it was, to a substantial extent, the rebirth of Restaurant Mandich. That was a Bywater establishment founded in the 1920s; its owners closed the place and retired after Katrina. That end has been much lamented by Mandich’s many fans. Suddenly, the next generation decided that the place could be revived, sought the assistance of their parents, and behold: Mandich has sort of returned from the dead.

Slidell: 2306 Front St. (985) 288-4166. Map.
Nice Casual.
AE DS MC V
Website

WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Although doing so at the speed of a turtle in the bayou, Slidell’s restaurant community is picking up speed in the direction of gourmet bistro cookery. Sapphire is more ambitious than most eateries in the town, but that’s accomplished more by using better ingredients than inventing new dishes or service touches. Indeed, in most ways it appeals to the tastes of the 1970s and 1980s. Which wasn’t a bad time for dining.

WHAT’S GOOD
Half of the menu shows off the best-remembered dishes from the old Mandich. Much seafood, classic Creole chicken, turtle soup, and a smattering of basic Italian dishes. The other side of the card offers a complete steakhouse menu, with all the classic cuts (missing only a porterhouse), all USDA Prime grade, served sizzling New Orleans style. The cooking is good but not yet polished, nor quite as good as Mandich’s was.

BACKSTORY
From the 1950s until Katrina, Lloyd and Joel English operated Lloyd’s parents’ Restaurant Mandich. It was literally a mom and pop operation, with Joel running the kitchen and husband Lloyd in the dining room. It was patronized largely by people in the port and shipping industry. As the demographics of the Ninth Ward changed, most other restaurants there dwindled. But Mandich was so good that it remained busy until the storm presented the perfect exit moment. In 2013, Erin English partnered with Lou Tortorich to open a restaurant in Slidell whose menu would be similar to that of Mandich’s. Another connection to the past: the new strip mall is on the site of the White Kitchen, the most famous extinct restaurant in Slidell.

DINING ROOM
The place is laid out peculiarly. The front door–assuming you can find it–looks like a service entrance. (Speakeasy?) The dim lighting and its many blue elements make the place look more like a nightclub than a restaurant. Indeed, it is a nightclub at times. A small platform in the rear is used for live music some nights. An oversize, circular bar dominates the room.

ESSENTIAL DISHES
Appetizers
Beef brisket, horseradish sauce.
»Eggplant sticks
»Shrimp remoulade
»Creole crab bisque
»Turtle soup
Sapphire salad (greens and vegetables)
»Wedge salad
Spinach salad
Entrees
»Panneed veal, pasta bordelaise
Veal supreme, crabmeat, hollandaise, pasta bordelaise
Veal parmesan
»Chicken bonne femme (half of a free range chicken, broiled with butter, olive oil, garlic, fresh parsley,potatoes
Stuffed shrimp, crabmeat dressing, asparagus
»Trout Mandich (crispy coating, beurre blanc, roasted potatoes. Optional: crabmeat and hollandaise)
Yellowfin tuna steak, beurre blanc
Stuffed lobster tail, crabmeat dressing, broiled crisp
»”High hat” filet mignon
Petite filet mignon
»New York strip
Bone-in cent4er-cut ribeye
Bone in pork chop
Desserts
»Tiramisu
Cannoli
Bananas Foster cheesecake
»Spumoni cheesecake
Decadent chocolate mousse cake
Spumoni Italian ice cream
»»Joel’s bread pudding

FOR BEST RESULTS
Although most nights it’s not full, on weekends a reservation is essential. The steaks equal those of any other local steakhouse. The bread pudding is a strong candidate for best in the metro area.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The music is too loud, and a decade too late in style. The potatoes that appear on most plates need to be looked at again.

FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.

  • Dining Environment +1
  • Consistency +2
  • Service+1
  • Value +1
  • Attitude +2
  • Wine & Bar +1
  • Hipness -1
  • Local Color +1

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

  • Live music some nights
  • Romantic
  • Good for business meetings
  • Open Sunday dinner
  • Unusually large servings
  • Easy, nearby parking
  • Reservations recommended

4 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. RICK GEYER on April 4, 2014

    THE return of the Mandich Family and their menu is a good thing, the Oysters Mandich were spectacular and so simple. Good old Nawlins neighborhood food. There is nothing like it here in New Jersey. RICK GEYER

  2. Bill on August 16, 2014

    Was Mandich’s on the corner on St. Claude near the orig Schwegmann’s. grocery? Was it nicknamed
    “The Downtown Manales”?

    • Tom Fitzmorris Author on August 16, 2014

      I don’t remember Mandich’s being called the downtown Manale’s, but quite a few people said it was the Galatoire’s of the Ninth Ward. Relatively speaking, I can see this.

      Tastefully yours,
      Tom Fitzmorris

    • Tom Fitzmorris Author on August 21, 2014

      Mandich’s was quite a bit farther down St. Claude, at the corner of Louisa.

      Tastefully yours,
      Tom Fitzmorris

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