We first heard about Pirate’s Paradise a few months ago, and in the interim, we’ve been watching the transformation of the old Herb & Beet space into something new. We heard through the WAF grapevine that they were about to open, so we waited with baited breath.
The wait is over. Pirate’s Paradise has opened on Sawdust, and we were there experiencing this fun new restaurant. Here is our initial impression.
Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, theme restaurants were a big deal. Now they’re out of fashion, and we think that’s a shame. Pirate’s Paradise returns us to an earlier time when restaurants incorporated a fun setting as the backdrop to your meal.
From the outside, it’s obvious that you’re not in a generic restaurant. You’re greeted by a motley crew of pirates and other rapscallions, clearly up to no good. But this crew is harmless, and they welcome you into their lair.
Inside, the atmosphere maintains the pirate theme. It’s done far more tastefully than we expected, with big, heavy tables and chairs fit for the skipper of the Black Pearl. Art objects are placed strategically throughout the room, and the feeling is both festive and inviting. Your inner child (or your actual children) will love this place.
The menu created by chef JC Torres is broad and interesting. Seafood is naturally a focus, and the chef sources fresh seafood from local sources whenever possible, a surprise that we greatly approve of. Certain menu items were 86’ed rather than offered with substandard frozen seafood. This attention to detail bodes well for the future.
But the menu isn’t limited to seafood. A broad selection of land-based dishes are available, including the expected burgers, hot dogs, and salads. But we were interested in trying something a bit more interesting. Land Biscuits grabbed our attention; thinly sliced prime rib, grilled, perched atop crostini and served with arugula, goat cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic. The result was a delicious bite; the tender been was balanced with the peppery arugula and the smooth, creamy goat cheese, and the sweet tang of the balsamic was a deft countpoint to the rich beefy flavor. We also observed some delicious-looking hot dogs and chicken drums heading out, but we weren’t quick enough to snag them.
These land-based offerings were tasty. But pirates work on the seven seas, so what about the seafood? We were pleased to discover that the friendly pirate chef prepares both fried and grilled seafood, so we sampled both.
The fried combination platter we sampled was very good. Large Gulf shrimp, Louisiana crawfish tails, a catfish fillet, and Gulf Oysters were all expertly fried and presented with french fries, hushpuppies and your choice of sauce. The fried seafood was expertly prepared, piping hot, and tasted fresh from the sea. In far too many restaurants fried seafood is a low-effort offering, but here we are happy to report that time and care is taken to get things right… and the results speak for themselves.
On the grilled side, we sampled some grilled Gulf shrimp, and they were delicious. Nicely seasoned, expertly grilled to the right degree of doneness, these shrimp made us very, very happy. It was sacrilege to dip them in a sauce; the fresh-from-the-grill flavor was that good.
Was the evening perfect? Of course not. It’s a brand new restaurant, family run, with a new staff that’s learning each other. We were impressed by the friendly demeanor and the hard work of all the staff.
In a brand new restaurant, there will be some missteps; it’s the nature of trying to get the dozens of moving parts synchronized to provide a smooth, fluid experience. We expect issues at new restaurants, and if you don’t, please do everyone (including yourself) a favor and wait to visit a restaurant after it’s been open at least a couple of months. We’re happy to report that the young, energetic staff at Pirate’s Paradise never stopped smiling and striving to make guests happy, no matter what kind of problem popped up.
One person stood out: Bren, the bartender, who volunteered to take care of our table. Bren was knowledgeable, didn’t let our beverages get even half empty, and kept us informed on the progress of our food. One item came out less-than-perfect, and Bren whisked it away without our even asking, quickly replacing it with a dish that met her high standards. If you sit at the bar, or in the area, you will be very well taken care of.
We were impressed by the atmosphere, the food, and the staff’s attitude at Pirate’s Paradise. We think it’s a great addition to the dining scene in the Woodlands: A casual spot with good food, a fun setting, and staff that’s engaged and smiling. We think you’ll like it, too: Just remember to show some grace if things aren’t flawless.