When Pardo’s was in its original location, we went for lunch occasionally, but not nearly enough. For some reason, going to lunch at Pardo’s seemed unnecessarily fancy. The prices were not higher than anywhere else, the food was certainly better than most other places, but still, it was a rarity. Too bad.
When they relocated to Mandeville, the glamour factor upgrade was exponential, and it was already at the top. Pardo’s is something out of Napa Valley, complete with valet.
It took me a while to warm to the food at the new place, but on the visit prior to this one, it seemed back. Robert Vasquez is the new corporate chef for the three restaurants in the Osman Rodas brand. Vasquez has a unique approach to all this, so changes will be implemented subtly, but very definitely implemented.
Tuesday’s lunch was the first lunch at Pardo’s since the move, and the second meal under the Vasquez kitchen. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t test it out, opting for a mere spinach salad. The lunch was a business meeting to work on selling the children’s show I have, so food was not the theme. We ate at a communal high top in the bar where the light was optimal and livelier discussion could ensue.
The bar at Pardo’s has its own feel, no less glamorous but entirely different than the dining rooms. Casual, looser, and much more my style. I will do this again.
The bartender was very attentive and friendly, staying on top of my tea “thing” and my companion’s wine. The lunch was not about food. I barely looked at the menu, but it was not an attention-grabber. The spinach salad called to me because nothing else did. It was smaller than I remembered and very likely in the transition to the Vasquez kitchen model. (Robert Vasquez makes healthy eating something you really, really want to do because it’s really really good.)
The spinach salad didn’t give him much to work with, nor did the Pardo’s salad that was also on the table. My companion got the pork stew of ground pork with a mirepoix in a beautiful hearty broth that seemed more like a chili. This is a delicious soup that may be on its way to a signature menu item. It was there on my last visit. Served over popcorn rice, it is itself a meal.
Pardo’s proves something Tom has said for years. When a restaurant moves it is a new restaurant. The last dinner I had there assured me that it was back. But now there is a transition to the new menu of Robert Vasquez. It hasn’t settled yet, but Osman Rodas is the owner, and he definitely knows what he is doing.
69305 Hwy 22 Mandeville
Mon-Th Lunch 11-2 Dinner 5-9 Friday till 10