Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mondo Mia

Growing up in Lakeview, we always strived to support our neighborhood businesses, especially the restaurants. But for some reason, no restaurant could ever seem to succeed in the end-cap location at 900 Harrison Avenue. Barataria, Lago, even some place simply called "900" - nothing ever seemed to catch on.

And then Susan Spicer opened Mondo.

Spicer, a Lakeview resident herself, has created a neighborhood restaurant that appeals to the younger demographic of 70124. Instead of the bountiful plates of fried seafood and red gravy laden dishes which made Landry's a neighborhood favorite for over 20 years, Mondo offers a sophisticated but unpretentious selection of both familiar favorites and eclectic fare, all at affordable prices.

The restaurant seems to be always busy, no matter what night of the week. Reservations are only taken for larger parties, so be prepared for upwards of a 30 minute wait for a table. The bar is also usually crowded with regulars, and the five high-top tables are often used for hostess seating. If you are in a rush, plan to dine after 8:00 during the week or 8:30 on the weekend. If time is on your side, order a bottle of wine and relax at the outdoor tables.

Though the menu prices are affordable, portion sizes are reduced accordingly. Dinner at Mondo is definitely a two-course meal. I would advise forgoing the fried hominy with chile and lime, which tasted like high class corn nuts. The wood oven roasted artichoke heart is cooked to a perfect al dente but had not been stripped of enough of its outer leaves; the buttery bread crumb topping was offset by a surprisingly sweet lemon aioli. The trio of dips ($7) - olive tapenade (average), taramosalta (overpowering), and white bean and garlic puree (best) - required more crostini, which were happily delivered by the waitress.

Another starter option is to share a pizza, whose chewy crust may not be en vogue with the crispy thin pies so popular today, but it's still good eating in my opinion. Think of it freshly baked bread topped with fine ingredients.

Pork is your best bet across the board. The Thai shrimp and pork meatballs are akin to the pork meatballs at 9 Roses except smaller in size and in number. $5.50 is a fair price for an order of three, but don't expect to share. Carnitas gorditas have spongy masa tortillas folded around shredded pork. The roasted pork shoulder ($15) is meltingly tender, and the beans and rice shore up a modest cut; unfortunately, the single thin, crunchy slice of plantain was nothing but a garnish that I wanted more of. Fish is served broiled or sauteed and topped with your choice of meuniere, amandine, or muddy waters (pictured). A half roast chicken and burger are available for those in search of refined comfort food.

At first glance, the menu seems too chaotic, but that's probably what Chef Spicer was going for. Her slogan at Bayona: "Our restaurant gives you New Orleans. Our menu gives you the world." At Mondo, the menu offerings may not be in harmony with one another, but most work well individually. It's the neighborhood restaurant for the next generation.

Mondo - Par/Birdie

900 Harrison Avenue
(504) 224-2633


Leigh C. said...

Mondo has good sesame noodles and a good burger, but I found that dining room to be too damn loud. I hope something is done about that, and soon, 'cause it would be good for the place to stick around awhile.

Peter said...

I don't found it to be unbearably loud but have heard others complaints. It's not surprising though with hard floors, no table cloths, and a low ceiling.

Rene said...

I went in once about week two of its reign and found it loud and hot. But I cant say if it was loud because of the surface of the restaurant or because there were all but for inhabitants of Lakeview in the restaurant.

Same with the Heat. Was it hot due to poor ventilation (from wood burning oven)? Because it was summer and the doors kept opening as people came in to put their name on the list? Or because my shirt was partially unbuttoned?

Just not sure.

Donnie Boy Riguez said...

I think this is a great place to go after mass at St. Dominic!

Coonhunter said...

I think they addressed the noise concern by putting down a rug under those center tables. Maybe I'm just imagining that, though. This is a pretty lame comment, I know. Just wanted to get my name on the board.

Rene said...

Ladies and Gentlemen,


termite said...

peter, i'm from Lakeview as well. growing up there all we really had (in that area of Harrison) was the Steak Knife. i was thrilled to hear Susan opened Mondo! i've been at least a half dozen times and i really love it! my only complaint is it's a bit warm in the dinning room.

i'm a huge fan. thanks for posting this!

Peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter said...

I have found Sunday brunch at the bar to be a terrific place to watch the Saints play.

Their daily soups are always wonderfuly comforting, and both the lemony smoked trout tartine and the Carnitas Migas (Eggs and Pork scrambled with Tortillas with Avocado Salsa) have become two of my all time favorite brunch dishes.

Despite Brett Anderson's thoughts to the contrary, I would skip the pizzas, however.

Anonymous said...

my wife and i went last saturday.

the hvac issiues have been addressed.

the menu was off the chain.

the hard surfaces of the building make the place loud but both of us being in our 50's it was not a big deal (old ears).

we have both worked in the hospitality biz our whole lives. so we tend to call a duck a duck.

our server kevi knew every detail of the menu as well as the specials. she answered all of our questions about the menu and the specials like it was second nature.

we had:

two sazeracs

chicken liver pate and pork belly w/ mushroom wontons apps.

pork shoulder with black beans and plantains , and a strip steak so tender you would have thought you were in kobe entrees.

one more sazerac.

a cappuccino and some sick ass ice cream that was chocolate cake and mint.

it literally tasted like mint picked fresh also the texture of the ice cream was like a soufflé.

the whole bill was 88 bucks with tax.

in hind sight i feel bad for only leaving a 20 % tip.

kevi was one of the best servers we have ever had and the kitchen was jammed with orders and yet the food came out flawless.

looking forward to our next visit.