An Exceptional Easter Repast

Written by Mary Ann Fitzmorris April 02, 2024 16:16 in Dining Diary

The plan for Easter weekend was for me to return very late on Easter, but I got called back a day early. While I was disappointed to not be with the grandkids on the big day, I felt like my place was with Tom and Mary Leigh. The compensation was that the food would be better.

We went to Pardo’s because I saw it on IG a few days before I left. Going to Pardo’s is like eating with family, only the food is incomparably better, even if we are cooking. I was thrilled that they would be open on the holiday, and I reserved right away.

ML had to work which is why I was called back, so she didn’t join us for mass, but she did take a little time for brunch. My favorite server in the world, Briana, was on and ready for us. She had decorated all the tables beautifully for the occasion. Straws had little bunny toppers and Easter cards and napkins were on the tables. For ours, she had already done her special lemon carving. We love her!

She is definitely a food pusher though, and I have a hard time resisting her entreaties. There was a ridiculous amount of food on the table. Chef Ryan Gall sent out a Lobster Bisque immediately because he knows how much I love it. But I also wanted the She Crab Soup, something rarely seen in these parts. Of course, a crabcake was necessary. And Briana was excited about the Eggplant app. Our first course was four things, and we were full long before the entrees arrived.

We did order entrees though, because the menu was fantastic. I got the Crabmeat Cannelloni, Mary Leigh had the Short Rib Grillades, and Tom had Oyster Rockefeller Benedict. Briana told us to save room for dessert, with her mischievous smile. How was that possible?

The Lobster Bisque is simply irresistible. There is only one word for this: sublime.  If there is a better one out there, someone prove it. So I sat there eating the Lobster Bisque before the She Crab Soup got cold. It was smoking hot so I had some time. The cream is whipped with lemon zest and the soup drizzled with basil oil. Heavenly!

Mary Leigh got Tom started on the Eggplant app, which was an elongated slice of Panko-crusted fried eggplant over what they called Sweet Corn Ravigote. This was topped with crispy crawfish. ML was smitten by that Ravigote sauce, but agreed with me that eggplant should be thinner when fried. Still, this was a beautiful appetizer, and delicious too, with that divine corn underneath, and a generous sprinkling of crispy popcorn crawfish on top. Tom and Mary Leigh made quick work of this.

I was busy with my overabundance of luscious cream soups, and a crabcake. I could eat this lobster bisque every day with a dense and chewy European-style country bread, crusty on the outside. It was a travesty to eat this soul-satisfying soup so quickly, but the She Crab was waiting for me! I did savor the little bits of lobster, getting some of the whipped cream with lemon zest and basil oil in every bite.

Moving on to the She Crab Soup, I first ate the Parmesan Cheese crostini floating on top of it. This was equally luscious with a mild crab flavor. She Crab Soup is a Lowcountry specialty which hasn’t been much emulated here. I was happy to see no roe in the soup. In some parts of the country harvesting female crabs is forbidden. It should be everywhere. The cream and crab stock is enough to thrill me.

A crabcake still awaited me, sitting on top of a grainy mustard aioli. This may be the last crabcake I have here, not because it isn’t good, but because there is so much else I want. It is gorgeous, pan-seared just so, and loaded with crabmeat. At on;y $24, there are no large lumps of crab to tumble out when a fork touches it. And I wasn’t crazy about this preparation, which included a tomato jam topping and crispy herbs. Tomato is a fruit and cooking it brings out the sugars. I'm not a sweet and savory person.

Even giving Tom half of this I was completely full when entrees came. So were we all. But they were all so beautiful I had to eat some of this new batch of food.

Tom’s Oysters Rockefeller Benedict was accompanied by sliced fingerling potatoes, something they do here a lot. I like it very much. There were two very large crispy fried oysters on top of creamed spinach and poached eggs. A nice blanket of lemony Hollandaise topped it off. This was such a great mouthful of food I felt sorry for Tom that he woud have to eat it later.

The Short Rib Grillades in front of Mary Leigh were really tasty but not show-stopping. The short ribs were in chunks, something I am seeing a lot lately. I prefer them to be falling apart and showing up as braised shreds. She was crazy about the Basmati Rice Grits underneath. On top was a stack of crispy golden brown and greaseless fried onion rings. This was a very nice and even heartier plate of food.

I had the crabmeat cannelloni once before here and didn’t care for it. This revised version was scrumptious. Inside the large sheets of pasta was a cream sauce of Brie and crabmeat, There were Trumpet mushrooms here too, and lumps of crab and crispy sage on top. This was a rich and decadent entree. I was sad to only be able to do two bites. It was sensational the next day as well. 

We also had a little dish of little vegetables. These were a great extra. And very cute.

Briana was not done with us. Ryan himself delivered the gorgeous French Toast himself. We had a few bites and had to take it home. It was dense but light as well, and the accompanying fruit really made it.

Being with my grandkids on the actual day that is Easter remains an elusive desire, but this brunch at Pardo's was so exceptionally pleasing to us that it made me mind the separation a lot less. And believe me, that is saying something.