Crabbing on the Lake
Two new restaurants to try on Lakeshore Drive.
Crab cakes at The Blue Crab Restaurant
Photographed By Sara Essex Bradley
Taking in a sunset at Lake Pontchartrain with a bottle of beer and a dozen raw oysters is a necessary respite from the daily grind of the city, and two new restaurant additions are making it hard to resist such essential pleasures. A drive down Lakeshore Drive toward West End Boulevard reveals that this area is being resurrected as the family-friendly, seafood dining destination of yore, but redone with an upscale twist.
Nothing better epitomizes this rebirth than The Blue Crab Restaurant & Oyster Bar , managed by Kent Burgess, whose family ran beloved Bucktown seafood mecca Sid-Mar’s for over 40 years. He re, the tradition of dockside dining, ice cold beer and local seafood comes to life with a casual fine-dining atmosphere. Bartenders, including martini-expert Blake Kaiser, craft exceptional cocktails that range from tiki to impeccably classic. An ample bottled beer selection is kept cool in two showy reach-ins behind the bar. Here, diners can teeter between totally cas ual (swimsuit and crokies) and chic (caftan), which is quite reflective of today’s dining trends. You can get a sazerac or a Bud Light. You can order marinated, chilled crab claws and raw oysters or get a fried oyster poor boy with fries. It is great for group dining, families or even romantic dates. Here, crab dip stays clear of gratin-style heaviness, finding a balance of blue crab, spinach and a sweeter element in a lighter manner, accompanied by gluten-free blue chips . Softshell crabs abound, deep fried on platters or i n sandwich form. A Sid-Mar’s specialty, broiled (or fried) Flounder stuffed with tender, lumpy crabmeat rounds out the entré e menu and is indicative of what to expect at this new always-packed restaurant, food that already feels steeped in tradition, mainly because it is.
In the coming year, The Blue Crab will add upstairs deck space (currently, there are doors that lead to a two-story drop). A crane is also on the water, driving pilings for a 400-foot dock that will also feature a small gas station for boaters. The downstairs will also have a covered bar that should be open by next year.
Within walking distance of the Blue Crab is Brisbi’s. Here chef David Defelice (whose family r uns Pascal’s Manale) does upscale, casual seafood and cocktails. You will a lso find a wealth of crab specialties. And while there’s obviously similarities between Brisbi’s and The Blue Crab – both have fabulous views of the sunset, oyster bars, patio dining and cater to boaters – the menus’ seemingly identical items aren’t identical at all. Here the crab cakes are quite different, even in form. Not the patty-shape we often associate with crab cakes, Brisbi’s delicious version are more of a cross between the shape of a hushpuppy and a patty. The meaty, rotund cakes get a helping of horseradish sauce and balsamic reduction, giving them quite a different approach than The Blue Crab’s (which are served with remoulade). The crab dip is a take on the traditional Crab Remick (first created at the Plaza Hotel in New York around the 1920s, and beloved by Emeril), and it’s a tomato-based dip with chili , bacon and tarragon, lendi ng a savory red-gravy flavor. At dinner, fish tacos, poor boys and other casual fare are the norm (and they have fried pickles called “frickles”), but every so often a hint of glamour enters the picture in the form of mini veal osso bucco , or the Oysters Rockefeller soup with a broth glitzed up by the addition of absinthe and silky cream. It is a fine addition to any meal, even if you’re wearing a swimsuit beneath your clothes.
The Blue Crab Res taura nt & Oyster Bar
7900 Lakeshore Drive | 284-2898 | TheBlueCrabNola.com
Brisbi’s Lake front Restaurant & Bar
7400 Lakeshore Drive | 304-4125 | BrisbisRestaurant.com
Superior S eafo od
4338 St. Charles Ave. | 293-3474 | SuperiorSeafoodNola.com
Superior Seafood isn’t on the lake, but the crabmeat stuffed mushrooms are also a wonderful accompaniment for watching the sun set over the St. Charles Avenue streetcar tracks.