An Old Institution That Doesn't Look Like One

Tom Fitzmorris October 25, 2019 11:22 Dining Diary

Yesterday we found ourselves down in Mandeville for lunch. While we decided between Mandeville Seafood or Pontchartrain Po-Boys, MA thought of Mandina’s. An excellent example of the adage "out of sight out of mind," it sits deep in the back of a shopping center. We just never think of it. 

The restaurant was so dark from the outside we weren’t sure they were open. Inside, the place is cavernous and much too modern for anything named Mandina’s. But the food is the same. This is not MA’s kind of food at all, but she had to admit there was a certain charm to the menu, which is straight out of the early part of the last century New Orleans. It is Mandina’s, and so was the food. And that means it is utterly unique.

Mary Ann is on a kick about the inferiority of today’s french bread, a point on which I agree somewhat. But she never eats it and I do. I was glad to see the garlic bread arrive at the table, and surprised to see her eat it. She explained that there is something about the garlic bread at Mandina’s that she likes, even though this is the kind of place that makes you suspect it's margarine, she sniffs. She'd never eat it if she really thought so.

This is great turtle soup, especially for the kind sans turtle. I got some, as I always do here. It was right on, exactly as I remember. And I got to joke with the waitress about the Sherry. Mary Ann was overwhelmed by the extensive menu, and just ordered red beans, then changed it to a side so she could get some spinach and crawfish dip.

The spinach dip arrived with dippers of fried bowtie pasta, but these were deemed not worth eating by MA because they were too dark. Something a fried thing should never be, she says. I ate a few of them, they were ordinary, as was the dip, though I did wait for the spinach dip queen’s verdict. I am not the connoisseur of this ridiculous dish as she is. She thought it way too cheesy on top, but otherwise fine. But just fine. Nothing special.

I ordered a fried catfish with a Meuniere sauce that MA thought looked more like the Foch sauce at Antoine’s.  Very thick. The fish was large and fried in cornmeal with french fries. This was a lot of food. And also pretty ordinary. Meanwhile, Mary Ann’s side of red beans arrived, and she thought these good but maybe a little thick as well, with a lot of chunks of ham.

All of this was unimpressive, but not offensive either. It just sat there. MA and I did agree that everything we had registered a little too heavy on the salt. But that’s a Mandina’s trademark. Can it be that we just don’t eat like this anymore?

Mandina's

4240 Hwy 22 Mandeville La

985-674-9883

Sunday 11-8

Mon-Th 11-9

Friday & Saturday till 10

mandinasrestaurant.com