On the main drag in Pontotoc, in a nondescript little building that has housed Chinese, Mexican and hamburger restaurants, Jose Pedro Sanchez took a chance and decided to open an eatery with a French flair.
And he’s been well-rewarded.
La Meson D’Or, which means The Golden Door, opened in February and has been popular with folks in Pontotoc as well as regulars from Tupelo, West Point, Oxford, New Albany and Houston.
“The first two months we are open, this man and this woman from Algoma – they are married – they eat in here every day. Every day,” he said. “They still come in here two, three times a week.”
Pedro, as he likes to be called, is a native of Veracruz, Mexico. And he did the Mexican restaurant thing when he lived in Arkansas. But when he moved with his family to Tupelo eight years ago, he decided to put his French culinary skills to use.
“I work in French restaurants in New York City for six years,” he said. “And my other two chefs, they work in French restaurants for nine years.”
The restaurant serves breakfast from 9 to 11, lunch from 11 to 4 and dinner from 4 to 9:30 seven days a week.
Now, don’t expect white tablecloths, fine china and crystal goblets. But do expect good food.
Popular breakfast items include Les Oeufs Benedict, or Eggs Benedict, served with home potatoes and salad for $4.99 and all manner of omelets, some made with sautéed spinach, some with shrimp and tomatoes, some with Gruyere cheese and ham and others with crabmeat or mushrooms and fresh herbs. Omelet prices range from $4.99 to $5.99.
Items that sell well at lunch include the Orange and Shrimp Salad, the Baguette au Entrecote, a seared steak sandwich served with crispy fried onions, and the Baguette de Poulet, a grilled chicken and bacon sandwich smothered in chipotle mayonnaise and served with french fries and a salad, all for $5.99.
“At dinner, customers like the Orange Roughy Fish and Shrimp and the French Pepper Steak,” Pedro said. “My favorite is the French Rack of Lamb.”
Dinner offerings also include Crispy Roasted Organic Half Chicken, La Meson Salmon and La Meson D’Or Burger. Dinner entrees range from $7.99 to $13.99.
The three desserts offered, each costing $3.99, are homemade apple pie, tiramisu and New York cheesecake.
“I want to offer a different kind of food to people,” Pedro said. “There are a lot of Mexican restaurants around here. I wanted something different.”
That’s not to say there aren’t Mexican offerings on the menu. Pedro also serves Nachos Fajita, Baked Fajita and Fajita Quesadilla ($5.99 to $7.25).
“We added four Mexican plates to the menu in July and took off some plates that weren’t selling. This food is more quality, more exactly everything.”
Food made on the spot
One couple who regularly dines at La Meson D’Or is Jeffrey and Katherine Waldo of Pontotoc. They usually enjoy lunch or dinner at the restaurant two to three times a week.
“The first time we came here, he brought out the food and we were just amazed,” Katherine Waldo said.
“We haven’t tried anything here we didn’t like, and we’ve had just about everything on the menu,” Jeffrey Waldo added.
Her favorite is the Orange Roughy. His is the French Pepper Steak.
“The T-bone and Shrimp is good, too,” Jeffrey Waldo said. “That’s probably my second favorite.”
Pedro and his staff take special pride in using fresh ingredients and the best meats and fish he can find, and in serving homemade sauces, dressings and pasta.
And, of course, it goes without saying, presentation is everything.
“We work carefully on presentation,” he said. “We make everything now – nothing already made, so it takes a little more time. It’s a lot of work, but we want to offer the best for the customer.”
What: La Meson D’Or
Where: 272 W. Oxford Street, near Sonic
When: Breakfast 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.; lunch 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; dinner 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., seven days a week
Seating: 14 tables of four
Info: (662) 489-3400
Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal