In 1986, when Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen first opened its doors at 6015 Westheimer in the Galleria area, the menu started with classic Louisiana-style dishes and seasonal seafood creations. Those classics, like Mississippi Catfish Opelousas and Texas Redfish Pontchartrain, are still offered today because "our guests love those dishes," says Robbin Swan-Appleby, general manager at the 2410 location.
The gumbo and shrimp and grits are also favorites that will never leave, she said. But there have been changes in the restaurant's 30 years — Pappadeaux is celebrating that birthday with a customer appreciation this month — as the menu evolved to include more seared and grilled dishes to fulfill the desire for options healthier than frying, says Appleby, who started as a server 17 years ago and has been a general manager at this particular location for the past six years.
Chefs Michael Gaspard and Justin Basye lead the research and development team and continue to "consistently work with fish like mahi mahi, sea bass and halibut to present new and exciting dishes," she added. "The menu gets refreshed every three months or so."
The customer appreciation event started on October 9 and will run through October 31. During this period, each day of the week will feature a different special:
Sunday and Monday: 1/2 price Gulf Coast oysters, $6.95 per dozen
Tuesday and Wednesday: 1/2 price seafood platter, $13.45
Thursday and Friday: Two 1-lb live Maine lobsters, $29.95
Everyday: CAT-30 Hurricane cocktail and bananas Foster cheesecake
The fresh Gulf Coast oysters were served with cocktail sauce, horseradish and a ponzu sauce and tasted like the sea. Swan-Appleby said that raw oysters remain a popular item on the menu year-round. The old myth about avoiding oysters between May and August is no longer true. "Safety is a big concern, so in the off season, our oysters undergo a pressure treatment that gets rid of harmful bacteria," she added.
The fried seafood platter was an impressive plate of French fries, a stuffed crab, four butterflied shrimp, one stuffed shrimp, one crab ball and two planks of either catfish or tilapia (customer's preference of fish). Customers may opt for dirty rice instead of French fries.
The CAT-30 Hurricane is made with Flor de Caña seven-year aged rum, housemade Fassionola syrup and fresh lime juice and topped with soda and Hennessy V.S. The cocktail is served in a traditional New Orleans Hurricane glass garnished with a wedge of fresh pineapple, fresh mint and a strawberry. Dangerously delicious and easy to drink, the CAT-30 doesn't come off as sweet as an original Hurricane, but delivers hurricane-strength flavor.
Diners who come to celebrate this event should always leave room for dessert because the Bananas Foster cheesecake is truly something special that should be enjoyed as many times as possible. Two cheesecake layers flanked a vanilla pound cake middle and came bathed in a bananas Foster sauce. The salted pecans and brown-sugar crust provide a perfect bottom, while caramelized bananas rest atop the larger-than-life slice. To our dismay, Swan-Appleby confirmed that this magnificent creation will not be available after October 31. Go eat it today, tomorrow and the next day.
"The celebration started yesterday, and every single location has reported incredible numbers exceeding our projected increases," said Swan-Appleby.
"This birthday is special to us because it is another opportunity for us to give back to our loyal customers, said Swan-Appleby. "We've served over one million people and over the 30 years, they still love our food and our restaurant."
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