Tuesday, December 18, 2012

First Bite: Patrick's Bistreaux in Berry Hill

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 5:30 AM

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I was a big fan of Patrick Barber's brand of Cajun/Creole food at his former restaurant Patrick's in Midtown. His mini-muffaletta sandwiches served on a plate smeared with a fiery ring of Sriracha (even before it became the cool "hipster ketchup") remains one of my favorite appetizers in recent memory. Patrick's closed within a year or so of its opening, and the space ultimately became Patterson House and The Catbird Seat (after a major rebuild).

Happily, Barber has re-emerged with a restaurant project in Berry Hill, Patrick's Bistreaux at 2821 Bransford Ave., across from Monell's. After spending a couple years planning and building out the old house into a really attractive dining space, Barber recently opened for lunch only, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with a limited soft-opening menu of po'boys, jambalaya and crawfish etoufee. He hopes to open for dinner soon, but currently is still looking for staff to work the evening shift. (So head on over if you're job-hunting.)

Using old family recipes and authentic Louisiana and Mississippi ingredients, Barber has created a great fast-casual dining experience that he intends to expand to table service once he opens for dinner. He imports the real deal Leidenheimer french bread for his sandwiches, giving his po'boys the combination of crunchiness and chewiness that only comes from Big Easy bakeries. On a recent visit, I sampled an excellent barbecue shrimp entree that he hopes to include on the menu soon. Served in a half sheet pan to hold in all the greasy goodness, the shrimp were piquantly seasoned, and slices of French bread made for excellent sauce-sopping.

Sandwiches are accompanied by house-made potato chips, which the kitchen fries fresh every hour and spices up with a secret seasoning that reminds me favorably of Zapp's Craw-gator chips. There's also a very cozy bar where Barber serves draft, canned and bottled beers, so it's a real shame that he has to close up shop so early in the afternoon. Hopefully, hours will expand before I have to devolve into day drinking.

Half po'boys run between $6.50 and $7.50, and you can order a small portion of the jambalaya or etoufee as a side for a filling lunch that will absolutely wreck your productivity for the rest of the afternoon. I can personally attest to this since I meant to write this First Bite days ago and have just recovered from mainlining all that butter and Crystal hot sauce. If it hadn't been for the pumping soundtrack of Little Feat and the Funky Meters filling the dining room, I might have fallen asleep at the table.

If you get by to taste your way through the rest of the menu before we do, share your impressions in the comments below. Aiyeee!

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