Slidell: 4820 Pontchartrain Dr. 985-649-8055. Map.
AE DC DS MC V
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Slidell has not been a particularly successful market for white-tablecloth restaurants. Among the few that have made a go of it, Michael’s has consistently been the most impressive. With a casual dining room but an adventuresome kitchen, it’s in a league with the better gourmet bistros in New Orleans.
The menu reads like something out of of the mid-1980s. But that was a delicious time for New Orleans restaurants, and too few restaurants offer that kind of food anymore. Lots of old favorites: baked oysters, blackened fish, this and that stuffed or topped with seafood, and other retro dishes. Steak creations loom large on the entree list. It all appeals to enough people that reservations on weekend are essential.
Michael Frederic worked in a number of Slidell establishments before opening this one on his own in the mid-1990s. It’s along what was once a long row of fishing camps, but became suburbanized when Eden Isles was built nearby. The eye of Katrina went right over Michael’s and did terrible damage, but Frederic had the place back open within a year.
Physically, Michael’s reminds me of the kind of restaurant you’d find on a beach in the Caribbean or Hawaii. The cottage-like structure was badly damaged in Katrina, but the rebuilding made it nicer than it was before, with a former deck now an indoor dining room. The restaurant backs up to a boating canal. Customers can arrive afloat and tie up to the pier. They can even be served on their vessels. On weekends, the superb guitarist Hank Mackie plays softly all night long.
Stuffed soft-shell crab Creolaise.
Veal Christine (with shrimp, artichokes and pasta).
Roast duck with black cherries and Grand Marnier.
FOR BEST RESULTS
Get a reservation for weekends. Avoid dishes with more up-front ingredients than you can count on one hand. The restaurant is a little hard to see as you drive by; it’s directly across from the intersection on US 11 with Carr Drive.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
They ought to rely more on local fish than they do. The crabmeat stuffing that shows up here and there needs more crabmeat.
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 +1
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar +2
- Hipness +1
- Local Color +2
- Live music some nights
- Courtyard or deck dining
- Good view
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
- Reservations honored promptly