Sunday, May 24, 2009

Road Trip: 
Middendorf's Restaurant 
Pass Manchac, Louisiana

Pass Manchac Historic Roadside Marker
While we were in New Orleans last Tuesday we drove over to Manchac -- AKA Akers, Louisiana -- to have lunch at an old favorite restaurant -- Middendorf's. Here are Jack's comments.

You won't find Middendorf's Restaurant unless you're looking for it.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, this venerable and regionally famous seafood joint is located in Pass Manchac, Louisiana, about a 45 minute drive from New Orleans, slap dab in the middle of a swamp.

We drove up from New Orleans for lunch and returned by way of the 24 mile Lake Pontchartrain Causeway from Mandeville back into the Crescent City. Lunch was great. We weren't surprised.

The new Middendorf's

Middendorf's is famous for its fried catfish, sliced so thin you can almost see through it. The large menu includes a wide variety of seafood, including "Manchac style" gumbo, the style I grew up on. Like clam chowder in New England, gumbo in south Louisiana comes in many varieties. The Manchac recipe remains my favorite.

Years ago, my grandfather owned a fishing camp in Pass Manchac. It was a rickety structure built on pilings near the shore of Lake Maurepas. I spent many days with my family at Manchac -- one of my jobs was to walk the long pier, checking the crab nets and piling any crabs we caught into a basket.

A wonderful Cajun woman, Mrs. Hebert (that's pronounced A-BEAR) cooked for my grandfather. She cracked the crabs and blended them into her very special gumbo. Those special Manchac flavors that I remember from all those years ago are still alive and well in Middendorf's version.

Even though we had a great cook at the camp, no trip would be complete without a meal at Middendorf's. I confess that at 8 years old my palate wasn't very adventurous. I almost always had a hamburger.

Middendorf's Restaurant 75th Anniversary Banners

That old fishing camp didn't make it through Hurricane Camile in 1969. Middendorf's suffered from another big storm, Katrina, in 2005. Its original structure was badly damage. So they moved lock, stock and Tabasco next door to a building formerly used for private parties and events. Extensive renovation is underway on the old building. Our waitress said they hope to move back late this summer.

Happy 75th Middendorf's! And many, many more.

Middendorf's restored original building.

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