The Valley isn’t exactly a hotbed of Creole food, but you can now get gumbo, po’boy sandwiches and more at one local restaurant, The Old Hotel Bistro.
The Old Town Clovis restaurant has added Creole food to the menu in recent months and made some other changes, including tweaking the name.
The restaurant is still in the historic two-story building 356 Pollasky Ave. And restaurant founders Bill and Cora Shipley are still selling clothing and gifts in their shop Heart’s Delight in the hotel’s front rooms. And Cora’s sister Sheila Call is still waiting tables.
But a new chef is in the kitchen and running the business side of the restaurant since January.
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Jim Pacini, a Clovis native and chef who has worked at Erna’s Elderberry House and The Vineyard Restaurant & Bar, took over in January. He also teaches at the culinary school in Clovis and continues to run Pacini’s Catering.
A trip to New Orleans last year had he and his wife sampling all kinds of Creole cuisine.
My wife kept saying, ‘You’ve got to bring Creole back to Clovis.’
Chef Jim Pacini
Fast forward a few months and the flavors of New Orleans are all over The Old Hotel Bistro’s menu.
“If you want to have the Creole experience, have the gumbo,” he says.
Creole gumbo is made daily with dark roux that gives it a darker than normal color. It’s made with andouille sausage, chicken and the “holy trinity”: bell peppers, celery and onion.
Po’boy sandwiches are made with fried shrimp, grilled chicken or blackened whitefish.
And, this is a chef who loves to talk about dessert. A pie that is a blend between sweet potato pie and pecan pie is on the menu. The restaurants makes its own individually wrapped pralines, candied pecans coated with a blend of sugar, butter, cream and bourbon.
And fresh beignets – the little French squares of fried dough blanketed in powdered sugar – are fried on the spot in three minutes, three for $2.49.
1902The year the Old Hotel Bistro building was built.
Pacini is not Creole, but has a 2-year-old granddaughter who’s adopted, who is Creole. Ani, or “poppy’s girl” as he sometimes calls her, can often be seen bopping around the restaurant.
Some favorites are still on the menu, such as the Waldorf chicken salad, and the restaurant still does its tea service. The cottage tea includes tea sandwiches, a petite lunch salad, crustless quiche and a scone.
Hours have expanded, too.
The restaurant is now open Mondays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.,Tuesday through Saturdays from 11 a.m to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Sunday brunch menu features breakfast and lunch dishes and crepes And there’s French Quarter stuffed pain perdu (French toast) with this luscious description: “Thick-cut sourdough filled with Devonshire cream and preserves dipped in bourbon creme anglaise create this French toast worthy of New Orleans.”