Bear’s Grill & Spirits
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
For a few years, the only poor boy sandwich worth crossing Lake Pontchartrain to try was made by three locations of Bear’s in Mandeville, Slidell, and Covington. That is no longer true, but only because a new Bear’s has opened in Old Metairie. Roast beef is king, sliced thinly and piled thickly, with warm French bread. They also make all the other poor boy standards, but it’s the roast beef that will make a mark in your taste memory.
Bear’s cooks everything from scratch in house, fries all the seafood to order, and serves its sandwiches well-stacked. The sandwiches are, in fact, too big, with the smaller option able to challenge even a big appetite. In recent times the number of platters has grown, and while they won’t equal those of the great seafood specialists, they’re quite good.
There has been a Bear’s on the North Shore for at least thirty years. The one in Covington–whose menu is a bit different from that of the others–is the original. It’s owned by the brother of the owner of the ones in Mandeville, Slidell, and Metairie.
The Covington shop is smaller and more utilitarian than the others, although you can’t call any of them fancy. (Who could trust a fancy poor boy joint, anyway?) They all have in common locations that you have to go looking for in order to find.
French fries with cheese, bacon, buffalo sauce or gravy
»Fried dill pickles
Chicken wings, Buffalo or house style
»Fried jalapeno rings
Mozzarella cheese sticks
Magnum burger (with Swiss, ham, grilled onions, and barbecue sauce)
»New Orleans burger (with roast beef gravy)
Chicken tenders sandwich
»Grilled chicken sandwich
»»Roast beef poor boy
»Barbecue beef poor boy
»Grilled ham poor boy
»Hot sausage poor boy
French fry poor boy with beef debris gravy
»The Ferdi (roast beef and ham)
Hamburger poor boy
Fried shrimp, oyster, or soft shell crab poor boy
Grilled chicken salad
»Maui salad (marinated grilled chicken, pecans, ramen noodles, cranberries, mandarins, feta cheese crumbles $1299
BLT chicken salad
Side romaine and tomato salad
»Fried or grilled catfish, oyster, soft shell crab, butterfly shrimp, or combo platters
Fried chicken tenders
»Bear paw sundae
Root bear float
FOR BEST RESULTS
If you wonder whether you’ve ordered enough food, the answer is that you’ve ordered too much. The place can get very busy in the noon hour and early evenings.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
If they’d toast the bread just a little bit more and back off just a little on teh gravy, these sandwiches would be perfect.
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
- Consistency +2
- Value +2
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar
- Local Color +1
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open all afternoon
- Unusually large servings
- Quick, good meal
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
- No reservations
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
I’ve looked for years, and the only really good, consistent poor boy joint I’ve found is Bear’s, on the old main street through Covington. It’s a converted convenience store, which is the first good sign–I never trust a poor boy place that was built for the purpose. Bear’s offers the entire range of poor boy sandwiches, including a few that engender relatively little interest to my palate but some body must like.
The acid test, of course, is the roast beef, which is perfect: the beef is thinly sliced and tender (and cooked on the premises). The gravy is flavorful not too thick, and applied in the right amounts. And the bread is fresh.
They also make a good seafood poor boy, and will not shrink back from that hard-to-find wonder, the broiled ham and cheese. Don’t come in a hurry; Bear’s is always busy, and they make the sandwiches carefully to order. They’re worth the wait.