Short Orders: Mardi Gras

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Mardi Gras
2720 N. Stemmons Fwy

Three things that are difficult to figure, at first glance. Is it called Gators Mardi Gras or just plain old Mardi Gras? Their Website suggests the former, but everything else points to the truncated name. And just where the hell is this place? Until you pull into the Stemmons Towers complex--and up to the right building--you'd never know it existed.

That's two things. The third has to do with kitchen hours, which you'll never find accurately listed online. When I called to find out, a guy answered "this is Chuck" (or Phil, or Arnold--something like that, anyway) and then launched into a conversation with someone at the bar.

It turns out they serve food until 10 p.m., with a break between lunch and dinner. But they really push the Mardi Gras angle, meaning the big party.

"This place is like Cheers," the manager told me as I waited on my order, gestering toward the couches near the bar.

Really? I don't remember Sam Malone and the gang hosting regular "High Heels and Flywheels" parties or promoting wet pillow fights by the fountain out back. Yet even as I left, the manager yelled "remember happy hour" in my wake.

The place does seem to promise fun, in the rip off your tie and pretend you're back in college kind of way. Or if you wear high heels and are into bike parts. Food service is something you can skip, unless you really want to give it a try.

Not that it's bad, really. They use ingredients from Zatarain's to give some items a Cajun boost, but they prepare dishes adequately. Mardi Gras' gumbo, for instance, is thick, filling and overt in its spiciness, though lacking in that okra-sausage sheen. Po' boys come with catfish or andouille--not fried oyster--and are hefty.

The andouille carries a solid punch, too.

Still, you can't escape the feel of a place better suited to heavy drinking than fine dining. Even at midday, the room appears to be waiting, biding its time until the happy hour crowd arrives.

Guess it really is like Cheers.

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