DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Diary For Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. Second Taste Of The New Pardo’s. Tomorrow begins Mary Ann’s annual birthday festival, during which we will be attending a number of classy restaurants. She has reached a degree of slimness in which she can do this with a clean conscience. She will choose the restaurants, of course, and I will be pleased to just go along with the flow.

MA is a big fan of Pardo’s owner Osman Rodas. That approval of his work and style extended greatly since he renovated what seemed like a marginally useful building into a handsome, modern, light restaurant. Some months ago, the original Pardo’s came to the end of its lease–a difficult crossroads for a restaurateur, who will have not only to find a new home, but to let the world know about it so that the clientele doesn’t wander away. Osman has clearly achieved that status. Both times we’ve been there, the place was full. And many people have asked me about it with a certain eagerness that bodes well.

It’s a cold evening, but Mary Ann looks forward to the completion of Pardo’s next plan. That will open a courtyard in the front of the inside rooms, and later to open some private party rooms, too. The man is as energetic as he is ambitious.

I had a big lunch earlier in the day–a typically great roast beef poor boy at Di Martino’s. (Like most of MA’s plans, the Pardo’s reservation wasn’t made until after I’d packed in the robee.) So I ate light, starting with Pardo’s Caesar salad. It is among the two or three best in town, say both of the Marys. It is without the classic Romaine lettuce, of course, even though the alerts telling us that eating Romaine is a threat to our health have eased a bit. (The official position on this remains that we should still stay away from Romaine until further notice, across America.) My doubts about the situation are enough for me to keep my current lettuce intake subnormal.

Pardo’s menu is heavy on steaks, but we covered that last time. I persuade the Marys to get the pork chops, which are always better than the typical diner might suppose. The chops are large enough that one order is enough for the girls to split. The chops themselves, but the sauce–which contains a noticeable amount of mustard–is not to ML’s taste. MA likes mustard, yet she didn’t think much of the pork chop dish, either. And as long as we’re registering complaints, the Marys go on to say that they didn’t think much of the gumbo. Too thick, they say.

All that came after an amuse buche combining what resembled hummus and baba ghanooj, with crabmeat on top and a sprinkling of citrus oil. Then, for the table, some small gnocchi covered with thin sheets of pasta and a lightly creamy sauce. All this was good enough to eat.

Need we think long and hard about why tonight’s dinner so far was below Pardo’s standards? Of course, the whole problem is that we’re measuring a restaurant that just reopened, which is a dicey a prospect as a brand-new restaurant. As I have been telling you for decades. You can’t go to a new-reopened restaurant and expect perfection off the bat. Some people get a kick out of going to such restaurants, but they either a. get a kick out of complaining, or 2. are friends of the restaurant, and want to tell the owner honestly what needs to be worked on. Good restaurant owners greatly appreciate the responses from people in the 2. category.

Because I have become adept at going to new restaurants for journalistic reasons, I was able to have a very good dinner at Pardo’s this night. The salad, as I said, was just right. The entree was sauteed redfish with a sauce combining most of the ingredients of oysters Rockefeller, including the oysters. (They were fried, not baked, but that was right for a contrast with the fish.) Also in the sauce was some chopped artichoke, and a splash of Herbsaint–a classic flavoring in a Rockefeller anything. I enjoyed the total product more than anyone at my table. But the birthday girl had to admit that despite the too-soon problems in the food they ordered, she still loves the place and Osman. It’ll come back to its accustomed excellence soon enough.

The dessert brought a big burst of show to our table. A chocolate cake with a chocolate sauce, all stacked up like a tower, suddenly blew its top with a two-foot-high eruption of fireworks–right there on the table. If dinner didn’t excite the Birthday Girl, this certainly did.

Pardo’s. Mandeville: 5280 Hwy. 22 (New location.). 985-893-3603. (Same phone number.)

Christmas Feasting In The Grand Creole Style

After thirty years, the old, reborn Reveillon celebration has become an entrenched and eminently enjoyable part of the Christmas season in New Orleans.

It started as an ancient French Yuletide feasting tradition, brought to the New Orleans colony along with Mardi Gras. Originally, the Reveillon was something along the lines of a Sunday brunch buffet, eaten the wee hours of Christmas morning. In those days one had to fast from the previous midnight in order to take Communion at Midnight Mass, and afterwards everyone needed refreshment. (The word “reveillon” means “awakening.”)

The Christmas tree in the big red dining room at Antoine's.

The Christmas tree in the big red dining room at Antoine’s.

The Reveillon tradition was an unlikely candidate for revival in 1988, when Sandra Dartus of the French Quarter Festival proposed it. Served at conventional dinner hours, the modern Reveillon’s aim was to draw people downtown during December, a slack time for conventions.

This year, over 65 restaurants have signed onto the official Reveillon program–a twenty-five-percent increase over last year. The restaurants each assemble theor own special menus of between four and six courses, with prices ranging from $38 to $97–most of them in $40s. Even the most expensive Reveillon menus are enticing values. Prices do not include wines, tax or gratuity.

The dinners begin every night the restaurant is open starting December 1 and running through December 31. In recent years, many restaurants continue the Reveillon menus a week or more beyond Christmas. On the other hand, because of private parties and other matters, some restaurants turn off the Reveillon lights on some nights. Calling for a reservation eliminates disappointments.

We rate all the Reveillon dinners with one to five “snowflakes.” The Reveillon reviews are based on past years’ Reveillons, the year-round performance of the restaurant, the menu this year, and value. These snowflake ratings are apart from our usual star ratings, and apply only to the Reveillon, not the restaurant as a whole.

You’ll also note the » symbol on certain dishes. This indicates dishes I think will be especially good. Information about hours, credit cards, and other matters can be had by clicking on the “FULL REVIEW” link in each listing here.

Don’t let the holidays go by without going with friends to at least one Reveillon dinner! They’re festive, delicious, seasonal, and affordable.
ReveillonDinnerSquare

 

4SmallSnowflakes

Antoine’s

We begin our recommendations with the oldest restaurant in town, and perhaps America. Antoine’s is also near the top of alphabetical lists of Reveillon restaurants. The Victorian main dining room Antoine’s looks and feels like Christmas year round. The environment reaches apotheosis during the actual Yuletide, when the largest Christmas tree inside a New Orleans restaurants gets covered with lights and ornaments of the old style. This is, not surprisingly, the most popular time of year for the 1840-vintage restaurant. Make a reservation, and when you do, check to make certain that the Reveillon menu is on. Antoine’s is so busy with big private parties that on some dates it won’t be. Specifically, those no-go dates are December 14, 15, 16, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 31.

Antoine’s Annex dining room.

Four courses, $49.

Crawfish Cardinal
Louisiana crawfish in a white wine sauce with tomato
~or~
Alligator Bisque
With sherry
~~~~~
Noël Salad
Greens and baby spinach with shaved carrots, cranberries, walnuts, feta cheese, and orange vinaigrette
~~~~~
Creole Soft Shell Crab
Onion mushroom rice, roasted tomato sauce
~or~
Drumfish Fillet
Shrimp and eggplant stuffed Louisiana drum fillet, spinach, pimento meuniere sauce
~~~~~
Eggnog Bread Pudding
Golden raisins, pecans, praline rum sauce
~or~
Holiday Meringue Glacee au Chocolat
Like a big sundae

French Quarter: 713 St Louis. 504-581-4422.
FULL REVIEW

All the Reveillon menus can be perused here. We’ll feature one every day throughout the Reveillon season, which runs in most of the Reveillon restaurants until December 31.The snowflake ratings are for the Reveillon menu, not the restaurant in general. Dishes marked with the snowflake symbol ? are my recommendations.

Drago’s–home of the Original Char-Broiled Oysters, The Best One-Bite Dish In New Orleans–presents an extravaganza of its best new and old dishes. It will be served in the new Lafayette Drago’s, on Wednesday, December 12.

The newly opened Drago’s in Lafayette will show off its best new dishes with an Eat Club dinner on Wednesday, December 12, 2018, 6:30 p.m. at Drago’s in Lafayette. All of the dishes below will be served family-style for $75, inclusive of tax, tip, wines and other beverages.

To reserve, call the Metairie Drago’s at me at the Metairie location: 504-888-9254. Or you can reserve by e-mail:
kelsey@dragosrestaurant.com.

The $75 admission will be paid at the restaurant when you arrive. Any other questions? Contact me personally by e-mail: tom@nomenu.com.

Here’s the menu. Amazingly, you will get all the dishes on the menu for the $75 price. Come hungry!

Start
Charbroiled Oysters
Fleur de lis Shrimp
Alligator Tacos

Crabmeat Mediterranean Salad

Lobster Surf & Turf, Served Family-Style
Half Maine Lobster, Shrimp Marco pasta, filet mignon served medium rare, topped with barbecue shrimp, fried eggplant, charbroiled corn

Desserts
Bread Pudding
Cheesecake