Red Fish Grill
The Red Fish Grill is another entry from the Brennan empire. Located on famous Bourbon Street, you’ll have to pass the seedier side what with the strip joints and a not-so-glamorous Krystal’s across the street, but this is one gem that you shouldn’t overlook in your New Orleans’ adventures.
We usually make at least one stop at Red Fish on our trip for lunch. It’s a fairly casual place. You don’t have to overdress, although business casual is expected and appreciated. Once you enter, you will see a beautiful dining area, an eager hostess, and real chefs donned in white, hastily preparing their masterpieces in the glass window at the back of the restaurant.
Red Fish Grill runs like a well-oiled machine. The wait staff is spectacular. Even if you are only a couple, you will have two completely separate waiters making sure your experience is a pleasurable one. You won’t be finding your glass empty here, that’s for sure, and in fact, if you’re less than refined at times (I know we are), you might be a little embarrassed by how prompt they are at getting your crumb droppings off the table. No, they’re not trying to knife you, just keeping the area clean.
Red Fish always has a lunch special that presents you with several options. I usually opt for the gumbo, although they have a special soup each day that the waiter will no doubt let you know about. The BBQ Oyster or Shrimp Po’ Boys are second to none. We’ll tell you just why in a second. These are just a couple of options on a well-rounded menu that has something for anyone. There are vegetarian options as well. Obviously, the signature dish is the restaurant’s namesake, but we have tried several of the delicacies and never been disappointed with any of their offerings.
So, back to the Po’ Boys. First of all, the BBQ label is deceiving. That’s actually pretty consistent through New Orleans in general. Whether you are from the South or the North, your definition of BBQ flavoring is likely to be a bit different than that of the Cajun Nation. Whether you pick oysters or shrimp, they will be lightly breaded and flash-fried in Red Fish Grill’s special sauce. It consists of butter, Crystal hot sauce, and a little honey with some spices thrown in, no doubt. The result is one of the best things you will ever put in your mouth. Don’t let the Crystal fool you; these are not hot. Something about the mixture of spicy and sweet calms the heat and makes it a perfect marriage of flavors.
You can also get the BBQ Oysters as an appetizer. I highly recommend it. Go ahead and get a dozen, even if you are skeptical. You will not be sorry. A word to the wise, though. The oysters are flash-fried, but this just gives it a little heat and pulls the breading and sauce together. On the inside, it is still a mostly raw oyster, and if this idea bothers you, you might want to opt for the shrimp instead. My husband had begun to warm up to cooked oysters but he happily devoured these and now eats raw oysters on a regular basis. Consider it a great way to break yourself in on this time-honored tradition if you aren’t ready to try the oyster bar just yet.
Oh, yeah, we almost forgot. There is a dessert at Red Fish that you must try at least once. The Double Chocolate Bread Pudding is sensational. And if you think they just make up a big batch of this stuff at the beginning of the day, think again. Right there on the menu, it warns you that you have to give thirty minutes notice to get it. So, if you want to give it a try, you have to alert your waiter near the beginning of your meal. Go ahead and pull the trigger. You won’t be sorry.
All in all, this is a great dining experience, but we also like to stop in at the bar for a quick snack from time to time. You won’t get the full experience, but the bartenders are great and more than accommodating. A particularly friendly one even gave us a free sample of a specialty drink he was preparing for another patron. Apparently, he was so impressed with his own creation that he wanted to share it. We were much obliged, and it was delicious. We considered ordering one for ourselves, but we had already had a couple of refreshments and had several more stops in mind, so we declined. Certainly not because it didn’t taste great.
We can’t wait to get back to this spot and try something different. Or maybe we’ll just get the same thing. It’s hard to improve on perfection. Put it on your list and you can thank us later.