WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Pardo’s is the first North Shore restaurant to offer the food, service and style of the gourmet Creole bistro. Such restaurants have been dominant in New Orleans proper since the early 1980s, but until now they never got a purchase across the lake. After eight months, Pardo’s has become solidly popular for its kitchen’s verve and creativity. It claims to serve American food, but the ingredients and flavors are clearly those of Louisiana.
The menu stops just short of (and possibly too close to) the fine dining category. Foie gras, caviar and carefully-arranged mini-sculptures of food provide more atmosphere than substance. The eating comes down to the familiar jumbo lump crabmeat, fresh Gulf fish, big local shrimp, and the signature dish of these times: roasted sizzling oysters on their shells. A wood-burning oven handles the oysters and a few other dishes. It all winds up providing an meal impressive enough that most conversations are about food. A very good sign.
Owner Osman Rodas came out of the Emeril’s restaurant organization to open Pardo’s in May 2012. The address is in one of the dozens of small strip malls near the burgeoning I-12/LA 21 intersection, where most of the major stores in West St. Tammany Parish have clustered in recent years. The chef is Jason West, a young local guy who worked around the country after culinary school.
Pardo’s took over a handsome space built out a few years ago by an Italian cafe that didn’t make it. It left behind a wood-burning oven and a spiffy open kitchen. The design of the room is cool and spare, with white dominating the bar in a striking way. The lighting is flattering, music a shade too loud and too Seventies. The service staff will be familiar to frequent North Shore diners, and they remember you, too.
»Lump crab, salmon, and caviar parfait
Wood oven roasted pork belly, apple fennel slaw
»Black Angus beef carparccio
»Wood oven oysters, chorizo, garlic, oregano, spinach, pecorino
Shrimp, crab, and crawfish cheesecake
»Seared diver scallops and foie gras
»PEI black mussels, garlic, fennel, shallots, chorizo, garlic fries
Pizzetta of the day
Crispy goat cheese salad, pecans, apples, greens
»Roasted beet and lump crab salad
Mixed green salad
Caesar roulade, parmesan frico, watermelon balsamic reduction
Black Angus ribeye steak, truffle fries, chimichurri
Roasted Scottish salmon, hoisin glaze, jasmine rice, bok choy
»Black Angus filet mignon, Cabernet reduction
»New Orleans barbecue shrimp, corn grits
Pork osso buco, citrus pan sauce, mushroom risotto
Grilled swordfish, Creole mustard and wine beurre blanc
»Seared ahi tuna, seared foie gras, red wine-portabella mushroom reduction
Quail two ways (corn and tasso stuffed, and country fried),
Fish of the day
House-made cookies and milk
»Chocolate pot de crème
Seasonal fruit crumble
FOR BEST RESULTS
Pardo’s is full most nights, and it wouldn’t be prudent to show up without a reservation. However, the bar makes good, generous cocktail, and it’s clear that some people like to spend time there before sitting down. The mnore artistic dishes are also the most delicious.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
Although the beef has a good pedigree, steaks here are not the strong dishes–especially given the presence of three major steak players nearby. Some dishes would be better if one or two ingredients were subtracted.
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 +2
- Consistency +1
- Attitude +2
- Wine & Bar +1
- Hipness +2
- Local Color
- Good for business meetings
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Easy, nearby parking
- Reservations recommended
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
“It makes you feel like you’re Uptown,” was the first comment I heard about Pardo’s. That captures the place exactly. Despite the affluence of much of the Mandeville-Covington corridor, diners there have shown a preference for the very straightforward, eschewing complexity or adventurousness in the restaurants they frequent. But apparently a certain, younger crowd has ached to have some restaurants like this. The location across the highway from the monopolistic movie complex only helps Pardo’s popularity.
Something else I heard at the beginning: “It’s a little expensive.” Not by Uptown standards, no. But noticeably higher than Northshorinians are accustomed to.