WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
If you want to eat seafood, look for water and boats. Believing this to be true, seafood restaurants and their customers are inexorably brought together. Sometimes it results in happiness all around, as it does at Orlando’s in Madisonville, a small town built on the dock-lined banks of the tidal southern extremity of the Tchefuncte River.
What we expect from a place like this is raw oysters, a good seafood gumbo, piles of boiled seafood if it’s the right season, and platters of fresh, crisp fried seafood. All of that is deftly accomplished and generously delivered. The specials board includes a few more ambitious dishes, but the Orlando’s limitations show–particularly when the featured fish is tilapia.
Orlando’s opened adjacent to the related Frog’s Pizza in late 2009. It was and so far remains the last business at the western edge of Madisonville, but still close enough to be thought of in connection with the half-dozen or so other eateries there.
It looks like any of hundreds of seafood restaurants along the Gulf Coast, but brighter and more spacious than most. Panels of wood in natural colors are covered with crabnets, mounted fish, rods and reels, oars, paintings of alligators and the like. In the new look of the post-K era, the restaurant is two-thirds of a flight of steps up, to lift it out of potential hurricane tides. The service staff is friendly and bright, but gaps open up in the delivery of the food.
Fried crab claws
»Fried artichoke hearts
Two fried crab cakes, spicy shrimp sauce
Fried eggplant, shrimp and crabmeat cream sauce
Stuffed mushrooms, crab and shrimp stuffing
»Soup du jour
»Grilled tuna salad
Grilled or fried chicken salad
Grilled or fried shrimp or crawfish salad
»Crabmeat and avocado salad, Creole tomato dressing
»Boiled shrimp, crabs, and crawfish in season
Boiled Dungeness crab
»Fried shrimp, oyster, catfish, stuffed crab, soft shell crab, or combination platters
»Whole fried flounder
Crab cake platter with pasta, creamy shrimp sauce
Fettuccine with shrimp or chicken
Seafood pasta: shrimp, crabmeat, crawfish tails, fresh mushrooms
“The Roxy” ribeye steak
Grilled skewered shrimp on a skewer
»Fried shrimp, oyster, soft-shell crab or catfish poor boy
»Roast beef poor boy
Ham and cheese poor boy (hot or cold)
Hot sausage poor boy
Orlando’s house poor boy (ham, cheese, turkey, roast beef, sautéed onions, bell peppers)
Fried crab cake dressed on a bun
Hamburger with fries
»Rhonda’s white chocolate bread pudding
Goosey cake with ice cream
FOR BEST RESULTS
Check the specials board on the way in to note whether the excellent grilled oysters are on, and whether any good local fish has come in. Appetizers are super-sized, so consider splitting one for two.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
With fishing boats and the seafood riches of Lake Pontchartrain at the restaurant’s front door, it’s insulting to be offered farm-raised foreign fish.
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 +1
- Value +2
- Attitude +2
- Wine & Bar
- Hipness -1
- Local Color +2
- Open all afternoon
- Unusually large servings
- Quick, good meal
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
- No reservations