Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Restaurant Trifecta at Fountain Park Centre

Restaurant Trifecta at Fountain Park Centre

When local businessman Robert Guidry decided to build Fountain Park Centre at 1901 Manhattan Boulevard, he envisioned a retail and restaurant center like no other on the West Bank. He included 3 restaurants with 3 distinct styles to anchor the center: Parrot Pete’s, Alligator Pear, and Royal Palm. Mr. Guidry sought out a talented and energetic team to achieve excellence in dining and to provide customers with a beautiful, family-friendly, safe atmosphere.

Overseeing all 3 restaurants is General Manager, Tony Duong. Mr. Duong is a 2002 graduate of the prestigious College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University. He spent 6 years as an executive chef in South Florida restaurants and hotels before accepting Mr. Guidry’s offer in 2008 to manage all 3 restaurants in Fountain Park Centre.

The original Executive Chef was New Orleanian Robert Bruce formerly of Smith & Wollensky fame. Joining Chef Bruce as chef de cuisine was the young Jeremy Latimer who had most recently worked as sous chef at Riche by Todd English in New Orleans’ Harrah’s Hotel for a year and a half. Originally from Cleveland, Mr. Latimer is a graduate of the renowned Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Before coming to New Orleans, Mr. Latimer cooked at resorts and restaurants in the Caribbean. Upon Chef Bruce’s departure, Mr. Latimer was promoted to Executive Chef whose duties include overseeing the kitchens of all 3 restaurants.

Parrot Pete’s, the most casual of the 3 restaurants, serves breakfast and lunch every day but breakfast is the mainstay here. The breakfast menu is available every day from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. The breakfast menu includes “Eggciting Omelets” like the Fa Get About It omelet with pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, bell peppers and marinara topped with mozzarella cheese ($11.95) or the Down Da Bayou omelet with andouille, potatoes, crawfish tails, tomatoes, onions and bell pepper topped with pepperjack cheese ($12.95). The pancake menu includes a long list of pancakes, waffles and French toast ranging in price from $5.50 to $8.50. For the more adventurous breakfast eaters try an item from the “Pete’s Best” section of the menu including Huevos Rancheros ($7.95), Pedro’s Burrito ($7.95), or the Cocka Doodle Moo – ribeye steak topped with chimichurri and served with 2 eggs and grits or hash browns ($11.95). A children’s menu is available. And, in addition to the wonderful breakfast items, lunch-goers can choose from 2 entrée salads and 5 sandwiches.

Parrot Pete’s has rightly become best known for its treats. The cake and pastry selections alone are outstanding! The Triple Berry Cake, Blackout Cake and Doberge are standouts. Don’t want a whole cake? No problem, individual servings of the cakes are available and can be enjoyed with a cup of Parrot Pete’s steaming hot coffee or an ice cold frozen drink including milkshakes. Not into cakes? Satisfy your sweet tooth with a scoop ($2.50) or two ($3.50) of ice cream with all the toppings. All of the sweets, treats and beverages are available until closing. The restaurant hours are 8 a.m. – 10 p.m., Monday – Thursday, until 10:30 on Friday & Saturday, and until 9:30 on Sunday. The kitchen is open daily until 4 p.m. The phone number is 504-362-9780. Their web site is: http://parrotpetes.com/index.html.

Alligator Pear is a café-style restaurant offering an assortment of sandwiches, burgers, wok dishes, seafood platters, and po-boys. Traditional New Orleans-style daily specials are offered for $10.95 Monday – Friday including Red Beans & Rice on Mondays, Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes on Tuesdays, Smothered Chicken on Wednesdays, White Beans & Rice with fried catfish on Thursdays, and Creole Shrimp Stew on Fridays ($11.95).

The wok dishes are delicious and you can choose the pad thai ($12.95), crispy chicken ($12.95), Mongolian beef ($11.95) or Bourbon chicken ($10.95). Or you can build your own and choose your favorite meat and vegetables. Meatlovers can choose from the babyback ribs ($13.95 half rack & $21.95 for whole) or the rotisserie half chicken with garlic mashed potatoes ($13.95). The seafood platter is piled high with an assortment of fresh, local seafood ($18.95).

Alligator Pear offers a selection of beers and wines by the glass.

Alligator Pear is Zagat-rated. The hours of operation are 11 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. Monday – Thursday, until 9:30 p.m. Friday & Saturday, and until 9 p.m. on Sundays. The phone number is 504-281-4472. The web site is: http://alligatorpearcafe.com/index.html.

Royal Palm is in a class all by itself. I recently had dinner there for the first time with my sister and brother-in-law. And, oh, what an outstanding dinner it was! The dining room is big and the décor is simply beautiful. We started off with cocktails, a Belvedere martini for me and Sazeracs for the rest of the table. The cocktails were perfect. In addition to the regular menu, a 3-course Coolinary menu was offered for $34.00. We decided to choose from the “regular” menu that isn’t regular at all. Chef Latimer came to the table and answered questions about the menu items.

To start, 2 of us chose the crab cake ($12.75) and 1 ordered the crabmeat au gratin ($18.75). As entrees 2 of us ordered the petite filet ($34.95) medium rare, one with a side of Maytag blue cheese, and 1 with Bernaise sauce. The steaks are served with a choice of garlic potatoes or baked and a side of roasted asparagus. My brother-in-law ordered the pork chop – more on that decision later.

Once we placed our food order, General Manager Tony Duong made sure to come to the table to welcome us and to introduce us to the wine list. Tony is very proud of his wine list and with good reason. The wines offered at Royal Palm aren’t labels readily available in local wine stores and grocery stores. We chose a 2005 “Burly” Cabernet Sauvignon to complement our entrée choices. The Napa Valley wine had complex aromas of ripe plum, currant and black cherry – perfect for our meal.

The crab appetizers were fantastic! The crab cakes were full of lump crab meat. The crabmeat au gratin was divine! The dish was full of lump crabmeat with just the right amounts of butter and cheese. Unlike many au gratins, crabmeat, and not cheese, was the main ingredient in this dish. It was delicious.

The filets were cooked perfectly – a nice char on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. The baked potatoes were cooked just right, not overcooked and mushy like so many these days. The asparagus still had a little crunch. The oversized, double cut pork chop was food art! It was cooked with candied sweet potatoes, pecans, sweet onion jam and served with a piece of battered, crispy fried bacon. It was beautiful and the flavors exceptional. For dessert we had crème brulee that didn’t disappoint.

We got a tour of the busy and spotless kitchen. It’s an impressive operation.

Our meal and dining experience was one of the best we’ve had in quite a while in the metro area! I can’t wait to go back.

There’s not enough room in this article for me to tell the readers about all the Royal Palm menu has to offer. Please check out their web page at: http://www.royalpalmrestaurant.com/index.php.

In addition to the main dining rooms, Royal Palm has a couple of private dining rooms – one that seats up to 8 people and one that can accommodate between 30 and 40.

Royal Palm also has large reception rooms perfect for weddings and receptions. Each room has a built-in stage to accommodate bands as well as a built-in dance floor and bar. The rooms are gorgeous and can accommodate 275 people for a sit down-style reception and up to 500 for reception-style. There’s a wonderful outside bar and balcony for events – perfect for the cooler weather. The dining room and reception rooms all offer a terrific view of the fountains in the center – it’s a really beautiful setting.

That’s not all. The bar in Royal Palm boasts having the largest bar in the city. It’s a lovely setting with an award-winning bartender at your service. Royal Palm bartender Jason Lee recently competed in GQ’s Bombay Sapphire “Most inspired Bartender” competition. He competed against 25 bartenders from Louisiana including bartenders from the Carousel in the Monteleone Hotel, Clever Wine Bar, and Whiskey Blue in the W Hotel, to name a few. Jason won 1st prize for his “Sapphire H20” cocktail. On August 29, 2010, Jason will compete in the contest finals at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas against bartenders from every state. Top 10 finishers get a mention in GQ Magazine and a video clip. The 1st place winner gets to be on the cover of GQ! Good luck to Jason!

From April through September, the bar hosts karaoke on Fridays from 10 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. Beginning this Fall, the bar will host musical acts including jazz and blues quartets.

Royal Palm is open for dinner only Wednesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m.; until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The phone number is 504-644-4101.

The third Friday of every month from April to November the centre provides FREE live music at “Festival Fridays.” Bring the family and enjoy a meal or dessert and cocktails at any of the 3 wonderful restaurants.

Look for coupons to the restaurants in Clipper Magazine, the 2010 Entertainment Book, and in Living Social/Groupon.

If after eating all the treats at Parrot Pete’s you need a gym to stay in shape, look no further than Exclusive Fitness in the centre that is open from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. And Salon La Rouge is a full-service hair salon right above Alligator Pear.

Fountain Park Centre is conveniently located at 1901 Manhattan Boulevard in Harvey. Parrot Pete’s, Alligator Pear, and Royal Palm offer diners a wide variety of meals and treats. Put the family in the car and head on over there!

Reprinted with permission of The West Bank Beacon.

Parrot Pete's on Urbanspoon

Alligator Pear on Urbanspoon

Royal Palm Steak and Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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