Pascal's Manale 2.0

Written by Mary Ann Fitzmorris February 02, 2024 19:53 in Dining Diary

We went to Pascal’s Manale for the first time in the Dickie Brennan era by default. It was the Christmas season and we had a blast there that day. We left looking forward to going back, so when Tom’s fraternity brothers from UNO wanted to get together with him I suggested Pascal’s Manale. It seemed a great place for a party.

We were the first to arrive and the first sight we saw was Thomas, the oyster shucker who has been a fixture at Pascal’s Manale for nearly a half-century. It was fun to catch up with him.

Sitting in the room where we usually sit, I realized this is the one I like less than the other. At Christmas time we sat in what seemed like the spillover room. This evening we were in the main dining room. Not long after we got settled that room filled up too.

A lot of drinks flowed, along with happy chatter and catching up on many years. A number of orders for raw oysters came out, flanked by the usual accompaniments of cocktail sauce and lemons. These were beautiful, and it made me sad that Tom has lost interest in eating oysters raw. It used to be a big thing for him.

 I ordered some fried oysters for him. When we were there at Christmas time he got a fried oyster app with enormous oysters perfectly done. These were fantastic.That’s what I had in mind when I ordered fried oysters, though I didn’t specify the appetizer portion. A much larger pile of fried oysters arrived on a large pile of fries. These were much smaller than the last ones but together it was a generous portion of food.

The guys had a nice presentation for Tom, and one of them had flown in from DC to give it, along with a plaque he had made for the occasion. After the first round of drinks, I advised them that we couldn't stay as long as they would be staying, so the presentation was moved up before dinner.

I ordered the Manale’s version of the Galtoire’s Goute. Here, they call it the Combination Remoulade. It had only the ingredients in common with the Galatoire’s version.  There were six large boiled shrimp around the perimeter of the small mound of Crabmeat Ravigote. The crabmeat portion was rather small, but combined with the shrimp it was a fine portion, especially for the $16 price tag. The Galatoire’s Goute is $22, but it is much larger and better overall. The mayo dressing on the crab was very good, but the shrimp seemed to be drizzled in ketchup. But it was tasty enough. 

At the beginning of the dinner, one of the guys told me that our bill was on them, so I didn’t want to order too much. There wasn’t a lot on the menu, so I decided that Tom and I would split a fish entree. The fried oysters they brought Tom were an entree, so I only wanted to order one more.

There was no Amandine on the menu, but there was fried trout. It came as a large filet that was fried, with a smattering of grilled shrimp. These four shrimp were also large, and carefully spread out and lined up the length of the fish. The fish sat in a lake of brown butter. 

There was plenty enough of this for us to share, but I didn’t want to share it. A good local fried fish dish is hard to beat. Eaten with the French bread that comes to the table, it is a fine and simple New Orleans meal.

Some other things on the table were meatballs and spaghetti. It was a large portion of two enormous meatballs over angel hair pasta with a very generous red sauce sitting on top. Next to that pasta dish was an Alfredo pasta dish. Both guys seemed to enjoy those. None of this was brilliant food but it was good. Good New Orleans comfort food.

Bread puddings and chocolate mousses rounded out the meal. The desserts were exactly like the food. Good but not brilliant.

Some of the talk at the table was about the restaurant itself, and wondering when and if any changes would be forthcoming. We all agree that the place shouldn’t be changed too much. This 111-year-old institution doesn’t need major changes. A little sprucing up will do. That goes for the food too.