New Orleans. Bourbon Street. The heart of the French Quarter. In the midst of mid-day revelry, inebriated patrons spilling out of doorways into the streets and dodging the occasional stray cat or two, hunger reared its ravenous head. Truth be told, minus the frenzied carousing of Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street is still a bit seedy, but it has at least one thing going for it: Pier 424 Seafood Market Restaurant.
Located across the street from both Larry Flynt’s Hustler Barely Legal Club and Babe’s Cabaret, it normally would not have been my first choice of places to dine at in The Big Easy. However, I was lulled in by the subtle hawker-like stylings of Henry and Gregg, two of the sociable waiters at Pier 424.
A large, comfortable space with plenty of seating, Pier 424 was surprisingly empty at lunchtime, which could have been a warning sign, but wasn’t. Tiffany, my waitress, was an affable sort who took great pains to ensure my satisfaction throughout the meal.
The menu is a cornucopia of seafood items, from Steamer Pots with Live Lobsters, Boiled Blue Crabs and Jumbo Peel-and-Eat Shrimp to overstuffed sandwiches to Crawfish Etouffee to Po-Boys.
I began with Crab Dip with lump crabmeat and savory Cajun seasonings. The aromas reached my waiting olfactory senses before the plate hit the table. The bubbly brown cheese on top hid a creamy and flavorful stock with chunks of crabmeat that was superb. Served with buttery bread, it was the perfect way to start the meal and, decidedly, the best crab dip that I had during my New Orleans visit.
Scallops St. Louis was my entrée choice. Nestled in a crabmeat dressing and topped with a biting roasted garlic aioli, the scallops were perfectly prepared—well done and opaque on the inside and tender to the bite.
My inquisitive nature compelled me to query the neighboring table’s patrons about the quality of their food. From the Catfish Po-Boy that was crispy fried to a golden brown goodness, to the garlicky buttered bliss of the Redfish on the Half Shell, to the unfussy Black and Gold Angus patty Burger topped with Monterrey jack cheese, they were satisfied with everything on their plates. They even offered me a couple of bites, to which I respectfully declined.
The music in Pier 424 is a bit loud and, competing with music filtering through the windows from neighboring establishments, it can be a bit irksome. However, it wasn’t enough to coerce an early departure out of me. Despite its location, Pier 424 is worthy of a second visit. Chef Christopher Harang has a strong command of his seafood kitchen, and the staff is lively, friendly and accommodating.
Moderate to expensive; price ranges: Appetizers and soups $6.95-$12.95; Salads $12.95-$15.95; House Favorites $12.95-$29.95; Steamer Pots $15.95-$35.95 and market price; Land Lovers $25.95 and $39.95; Sandwiches and Po-Boys $8.95-$14.95; Seafood Platters $13.95-$18.95; Desserts $6.95-$8.95.
Pier 424 Seafood Market Restaurant, 424 Bourbon Street, New Orleans, LA 70112 / 504-309-1574
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