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Exquisite meal sets stage for Splendors of Versailles exhibit

Executive Dining

We had an opportunity last week to participate in the sampling of a French menu at Jackson’s Fairview Bed & Breakfast in anticipation of the Splendors of Versailles exhibit which begins April 1 and runs through Aug. 31 at the Mississippi Arts Pavilion in downtown Jackson.

Our menu, presented by Executive Chef Christian Amelot, included cocktails and began with creme de cuisses de grenouille a l ail (frog legs cream soup with garlic) served with a Mondavi Fume Blanc. This was followed with a paillarde de saumon, sauce vierge (thin filet of salmon with mustard virgin sauce), again accompanied by the Fume Blanc. A palate cleanser of granite a la passion (passion fruit granite) preceded the entree, filet de boeuf en chevreuil, sauce Cumberland (marinated beef tenderloin in Cumberland sauce paired with a Mondavi Woodbridge Cabernet.

The salade Aida (Aida Salad) was then served followed by a luscious terrine chocolat aux sauce aux myrtilles sauce anglaise (chocolate delight with black currant sauce and sauce anglaise served with Chandron Blanc de Noirs and finally Korbel Brut).

A wonderful meal was enjoyed by all in attendance.

Located at 734 Fairview Street in Jackson, the Fairview Bed & Breakfast will serve French menu dinners at 7 p.m. weekdays only, beginning the first of April. Prix fixe at $100 per person which includes wine, tax, and gratuity. Reservations are necessary. Telephone: 948-3429.

Red Lobster, Vicksburg

The changes brought about by the advent of the casinos in Vicksburg have been massive, most especially in the area of food service. The restaurant scene has changed dramatically, and often one is at a loss when trying to find an eating place. The Red Lobster, which has been open for about three years now, is a place to remember. Located in Pemberton Mall, just past the post office, it’s off the beaten path and can be easily overlooked.

We usually go to the Red Lobster for two reasons: those wonderfully light and tasty garlic-cheese biscuits and the steamed snow crab legs. One cannot say enough about those biscuits — they rival the Elite’s rolls — and, unless one is careful, one can effortlessly overdo. We consumed some four or five before our dinner was served and the edge was gone from our hunger. We had rather just devour biscuits than to order an appetizer, of which there are several, including gumbo, lobster-stuffed mushrooms, shrimp cocktail, stuffed shrimp, etc. One can also create one’s own appetizer of two or three choices from some half-dozen selections.

Lovers of crab legs know they speak for themselves.

Several years ago Red Lobster carried a monthly promotion of all-you-can-eat. It, unfortunately, has not been repeated, but in lieu of this, the restaurant has an ongoing offer. One can add either a half-pound or a full-pound of crab legs to any entree for about $6 and $10 respectively. We think it is well worth the additional tariff.

The Red Lobster changes menus and offers new promotions approximately every three months, so if you do not find the selections to your liking, be assured, they will change shortly. This month’s attraction is the various lobster offerings. Whole, steamed lobster is offered and lobster tails are offered in combination with steak and several other seafood selections.

We enjoyed a combination plate ($19.95) containing a lobster tail, a half-pound of crab claws and two types of shrimp. The lobster tail was grilled to a near perfect turn. There is a general tendency around the state to overcook lobster and, hence, they are sometimes chewy, but not so in our case. These were some of the best we’ve had in the area. The crab claws were marvelous. They were meaty and succulent and, of course, we ate them dripping with melted butter. Just wonderful.

Several seafood combinations are priced in the $9 to $11 range. Feast plates are in the $13 to $17 area. Steak is offered, but in keeping with our practice of shunning steaks in a seafood restaurant, we opted not to try this one.

Full bar service is offered and we thought the Margaritas were well above average.

Lunch is served daily until 4:00 p.m. The menu reflects about a dozen specials priced around $5. A kiddie’s menu is also available.

Service was well above average on both of our visits and our only observation was that the servers tend to be absent for extended periods of time and sometimes needs go wanting.

Decor is typically what one would expect: rustic with lots of seashore implements hanging or lying around. But, one doesn’t go to the Red Lobster for ambiance, just the food.

Red Lobster, 3425 Pemberton Square Boulevard, Vicksburg. (Take the Hall’s Ferry Road exit (1-C) off I-20, turn south and then west into Pemberton Mall). Hours are from 11 a.m. until 10 Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Prices are moderate to moderately expensive. All major credit cards are accepted. Non-smoking is available. Full handicap accessibility. Reservations are not accepted, but call ahead seating is available. Telephone: 631-0885.

Of further note: The Red Lobster in Jackson has moved to a new location — next door to the Olive Garden, just off the corner of County Line Road and I-55.

Bill Patrick’s column appears every other week in the Mississippi Business Journal. He has written extensively about restaurants for more than a dozen years and has served in the kitchen, dining room, behind the bar and as a food service inspector.


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