Christopher’s On Carey
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
One restaurant at a time, Slidell expands its still small collection of ambitious restaurants. Christopher’s on Carey is its best addition of the past year. It’s a gourmet bistro with polished, contemporary food and careful service in a space with rustic quaintness.
Chef Christopher Case hews to the current vogues of white-tablecloth dining, emphasizing local produce and seafood in attractive, interesting compositions. The menu is appealing, but it seems to me that the best food on any given night is likely to come from the large selection of seasonal specials. The chef puts more effort into sourcing the food for the specials, which bring the likes of venison and excellent local fish species to the table.
Case is a graduate of culinary school and a number of major local restaurants (Lilette, La Provence, and Vrazel’s in Gulfport). In 2011 he and a partner took over the Victorian Tea Room–a genteel cafe in Olde Towne Slidell–and turned it into a more general and much more ambitious restaurant. (Although the catered tea parties continue.) The building has a long history, including decades as a well-known drugstore and soda fountain.
The antique decor–appropriate for the tea room, less so for the restaurant–reaches far beyond retro to what may come across as corny to city folk. But this is Olde Towne Slidell, so it gets a pass. It makes the au courant cookery more of a surprise. Two rooms in flatteringly dim lighting are well-set with nice napery. For some reason, a book about food is on each table.
»Soup du jour
»Salad of fresh beets, goat cheese, arugula, pistachios, sherry vinaigrette
Spinach salad, dried cranberries, walnuts, blue cheese, apple, port wine vinaigrette
Crab cakes, arugula, ravigote sauce
»Crispy chicken spring rolls
»Oysters and bacon en brochette
»Shrimp remoulade napoleon, fried green tomato and eggplant
»Barbecue shrimp and cheese grits, tasso ham
»Pan-seared speckled trout, meuniere or amandine
Pan-roasted mahi-mahi, saffron seafood cream
»Pan roasted pompano, spinach, citrus brown butter
»Daily fish specials
Filet mignon, hand-cut fries, peppercorn sauce
Veal rib chop, mushrooms, white wine and butter sauce, spinach
Chef’s daily sautéed veal medallions
Abita root beer float
»Bananas Foster bread pudding
House made brownie, vanilla ice cream
FOR BEST RESULTS
Consider the specials before the main main menu. A three-course early-evening menu is a bargain at $35. If you don’t know your way around Slidell well, print out the map. The way the street grid works is mildly confusing.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
I find the music irritating, although I can’t decide whether it’s the volume (a little too loud) or the era (1960s, mostly).
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 +1
- Value +2
- Attitude +2
- Wine & Bar +1
- Hipness +1
- Local Color +2
- Early-evening specials
- Easy, nearby parking
- Reservations accepted
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
The center of the oldest part of Slidell is very quiet at night–perhaps too quiet. However, a few restaurants and bars, spaced well apart, keep the heartbeat going. Entering Christopher’s On Carey, you get a feeling of relief that something does seem to be going on there. In the conversations around the room, those who have discovered the place seem almost too happy that they did. Those who like going to restaurants known to few other people will love this place.