I’m lucky to have my family for a many number of reasons, but most recently, we were able to celebrate Sunday Night Dinner in a unique way because of a family member’s need for some work R&D.
So, the mission:
Check out as many downtown oyster bars as possible before all are closed or we explode from oyster overload. Thankfully, no one exploded and we closed down the final oyster bar.
And so, based on our Sunday Night Dinner adventure, we were able to enjoy 6 oyster bars in 6 hours.
Let me repeat that.
We actually went to six oyster bars in six hours and ate oysters at all six of them.
I know that I’m pretty proud of our adventure. And so, just for a rundown of the Oyster fun, see my list and a briefing of what we discovered.
Red Fish Grill
I started at the popular and well known restaurant on Bourbon Street with bubbly. Why? Well, I mean, how else would you start your oyster adventure? Please.
I have always loved the decor at this particular Ralph Brennan Restaurant. I think it’s whimsical, interesting and captures the personality of the city slicker’s taste in local seafood. Some day I’ll do my best to recreate or acquire one of those oyster mirrors for my dream home, but until then, I’ll just admire them on the wall of Red Fish Grill.
We went with a straightforward dozen raw to start. Their P&J’s were fresh and salty and served with their horseradish and cocktail sauce. Very traditional and very tasty.
Because we were a little ambitious and a little crazy, we treated ourselves to the seafood charcuterie, a new offering that routinely changes. It was very fun to try the different offerings and I’ll go back to try out the seafood board again.
A fun side-note, they have a great oyster happy hour.
Desire Oyster Bar
Since we were on Bourbon Street, we figured we should probably stop at a place that at least had “Oyster Bar” in the name. We decided to just pop in and out rather quickly just to get an idea.
We went with a 1/2 dozen raw and 1/2 dozen Oysters Desire ( the standard broiled oysters).
We did not spend much time over at Desire. I did meander over to the oyster bar area and was intrigued to find that they have a produce display. I saw the produce, not the oysters. Cool “Oyster Bar” sign though.
Ok, third oyster bar stop in about a block distance. I can’t lie, I was beginning to be a little over oysters, but the Oyster bar tower was pretty freaking awesome. So we sat down at the bar. I especially loved the place mats that were provided that mapped out the Louisiana oyster harvest areas so you know where the oysters came from. Looking back, I kind of wish I would have taken a picture….
Since we had already started strong with the straight up raws, we decided to check out their Fruits de Mer. We went with the two person (there were four of us) and it was the perfect little sample for us. While the shrimp and oysters with caviar were great, the rest kind of left us wanting more. Don’t ask what the Seasonal Seafood Salad was. Even the staff couldn’t identify some of the ingredients.
On Fridays, they have a Champagne and Oyster Happy Hour. Maybe once I’m over my oyster hangover I’ll want to check it out.
There is no doubt that this oyster bar had the most well informed staff regarding where the oysters came from, how they were handled and willingness to discuss the many features of the local NOLA raw bar scene (shoutout to Frog).
The bartenders are actually also the shuckers, which was pretty cool. I was quickly (and easily) convinced to order a cocktail, which I happily obliged. I went with The Vine because it seemed light and had fresh watermelon, and reduced aged balsamic vinegar. It was a great cocktail and a welcomed refreshment.
We passed on the straight up raw oysters and decided to go with The Isle Sampler. A dozen of their broiled oyster offerings which included: The Fulton- White cheddar, carmelized onions, and bacon; The Grande- Tasso, jalapenos and havarti cheese; and The Fourchon- Olive oil, Parmesan, lemon and garlic.
We had our fair share of the local oysters by this time, so we decided to head over to what has been named as one of the top oyster bars in the country by multiple organizations (and I won’t disagree). Ah Lüke, you’re a staple now; known for your insanely popular happy hour and your proprietor’s fancy hair.
Since we had already had one interesting Fruits de Mer (even though I recommend Lüke over Bourbon House) that day, and all our previous stops featured only local oysters, we decided to go a different route at Lüke. We ordered their specialty oysters and had fun pointing out the similarities and differences from our beloved local Gulf bivalves. This evening, they had three available, but was very excited to hear they are planning on expanding the list to almost a dozen in the near future. YES!
I would like to note, most from our party enjoyed the Hollywoods the most, but the Wiannos oysters were so full of intense saltwater I was extremely partial to them.
Make sure to check out that 50 c happy hour next time you’re in the area!
We made our way to our final destination full on oyster liquor and maybe a little oyster drunk. While Borgne does not boast a visible raw bar, their bar is very impressive. My favorite seats in Chef Brian Landry’s local seafood restaurant is one of the bar tables, and I won’t lie and tell you I don’t go often.
Because we were so oyster drunk, as previously stated, we went ahead and ordered another round of raw oysters. It was our last stop, how could we not?
These were a perfect ending to our raw oyster adventure… for the raws. We then ordered one of my favorite oyster dishes of all time (in exception to Chef Daddio’s oyster patties, but that’s for a different blog post on a different day).
Ladies and Gentleman, do not leave Borgne without ordering the Oyster Spaghetti.
This stuff is rich with a creamy and BUTTERY oyster broth and garlic and beautiful poached oysters. It’s good then and there, and as leftovers. So I’m telling you, don’t leave without it.
So, we polished off our plates and wiped the oyster residue of the day off our chins. This, folks, was the end of the oyster extravaganza. There were some marvelous highs and some disappointing lows (oh, did I not mention that our car was towed). And most importantly, I still love oysters at the end of it all! Now that the “R” months are upon us, go forth and get your oyster on!