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Soft Shell Crab: Spring 2010

s
scrumptiouschef Mar 10, 2010 07:40 PM

I'm about to make my way back to New Orleans once again.

I always go with a mission whether it be visiting an old restaurant I've been meaning to get around to trying or hitting up a tavern in a far flung corner of the city I've always heard about.

My goal on this trip is to eat as much soft shell as possible.

In the past I've had delicious crabs at Jack Dempsey's [with a side of the city's finest mac and cheese], Mandina's [drenched in a heavenly etouffe with a wop chaser], Rocky and Carlos [good but not otherworldly] Chez Helene [as a lad and the memory is barely hanging on].

Now I'm turning to y'all for advice:

Where are you getting this years soft shell crabs?

Any chance they could make an appearance on the menu at Clancy's?

What are Clancy's strong suits?

Can you dine at the bar there?

I'll be staying on Royal street but will have a vehicle and can travel about anywhere.

Other than a loaf of bread and a brace of cocktails at Coquette I haven't made any firm eating plans.

  1. h
    hazelhurst Mar 11, 2010 05:00 AM

    You can eat at the bar at Clancy's....I always do. they will certainly have soft shells and, moreover, will probably fix them to your order if you make nice with the gang. Ask Brad if they are fresh or "fresh frozen". He will probably tell you the truth(but the fact is that I have seen many crab snobs fooled on this score). If you have them battered and fried, please have the decency to hide.

    1. j
      JazzyB Mar 11, 2010 06:20 AM

      My favorite softshell is Brigsten's w/pecan meuniere. Fresh only and not available often. Call ahead and have them save one for you. They usally sell out early in the evening. August does a very nice tempura buster crab.

      1. c
        CharlieH Mar 11, 2010 06:21 AM

        The softshell at Clancy's is a mainstay, they make it with extra crabmeat as do many places. Its an excellent choice at Galatoire's, and for a softshell po-boy go to the Galley on Metairie Rd. or R&O's out by the lake. There's Charlie's Seafood in Harahan which is run by Frank Brightsen, the TP did a nice write up recently you should read. Charlie's would be a good place to start teh adventure actually. You could even try Impastato's. Looking forward to hearing about your trip, always a treat to read your stuff. Oh, and Sidmar's re opened recently, although its not the same, in the old days that would be your first stop. ch

        6 Replies
        1. re: CharlieH
          s
          scrumptiouschef Mar 11, 2010 06:33 AM

          Will the classic po boy shops like Domilise's, Parkway or Johnny's be offering soft shell? When does the season hit big?

          1. re: scrumptiouschef
            h
            hazelhurst Mar 11, 2010 06:46 AM

            We've had unusually cold weather this year so it is anyone's guess but we are beginning to get hints of the dreadful doldrums of summer approaching so I would say the natural appearance of soft shells is about four to six weeks away..crawfish are beginning to look decent according to a farmer friend in Acadiana..he told me to call him just after Easter.

            1. re: scrumptiouschef
              c
              CharlieH Mar 11, 2010 07:13 AM

              Off hand, I am pretty sure no. It really is something of a specialty item, for one reason, they run about twice or more than anything else. The Galley people are the one's that do Jazz Fest, and they also do boiled seafood.

              1. re: scrumptiouschef
                uptownlibrarian Mar 11, 2010 07:18 AM

                Johnny's has soft shells in season. Don't know about the other two.

                1. re: scrumptiouschef
                  s
                  Shiloh Mar 16, 2010 07:38 AM

                  In past years, Parkway has offered them one day a week. I think it was Sunday.

                2. re: CharlieH
                  h
                  hazelhurst Mar 11, 2010 06:35 AM

                  I was in the new SidMar's last week and told them they need to paint a view of the Lake over the windows so we don;t have to look at the banks and Vets traffic. I am hopeful we can make a "go" of the new place but, like Ye Olde College Inn, it ain't da same...maybe this is as it should be.

                3. nikinik Mar 11, 2010 07:59 AM

                  Absolutely Dakota on the Norshshore.

                  1. edible complex Mar 11, 2010 09:17 AM

                    don't overlook the ss parm po oby at R&O's.
                    I also like ss's at sushi places.
                    Jacques Imo's had a ss rightly named godzilla. check to see if it is still on the menu.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: edible complex
                      j
                      JazzyB Mar 12, 2010 05:49 AM

                      Jacques ss looks better than it tastes.

                    2. c
                      CharlieH Mar 16, 2010 09:27 AM

                      Also, Luke has a "BLT" which consists of a fried buster, Allen Benton's Bacon, and lettuce on griddled bread which plays well.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: CharlieH
                        s
                        scrumptiouschef Mar 21, 2010 05:30 PM

                        At 27 bucks the version at R&O's outpost could be called a richboy but more importantly it's delicious.

                        It takes a good 10 minutes of nibbling around the edges before you can even begin to eat the part that's tucked into the bread.

                        If the housecat sized crabs are any indication of what will be coming out of the bayous this season we're in for some serious eating.

                        Who all's been to R&O's lately?

                        Did you try the softshell crab?

                        1. re: scrumptiouschef
                          c
                          CharlieH Mar 22, 2010 08:12 AM

                          Wow, I didn't realize R&O was getting $27. Glad it was worth it. Makes your realize, that the Jazz fest price is a bargain. I wonder if the market price varies a great deal during the year. ch

                          1. re: CharlieH
                            s
                            scrumptiouschef Mar 22, 2010 11:21 AM

                            Sign on the door last night at R&O's confirms the variability of soft shell prices. A $3 surcharge is in effect right now. Also they're tacking on a dime if you get it dressed with tomatoes. Our by the case tomato prices are just under 45 dollars right now back in Austin so the late Florida freeze is affecting everybody.

                            All that being said, R&O's was incredible but not even the best meal of the day. Domenica in the old Roosevelt blew my mind yesterday. It's the best Besh restaurant I've eaten at particularly given the prices which are surreally low.

                            -----
                            Domenica
                            123 Baronne Street, New Orleans, LA 70112

                            1. re: scrumptiouschef
                              mimadeli Mar 22, 2010 08:33 PM

                              There are plenty other places to dine other than R&O - they are past their prime, especially since they started nickle and diming their customers. $27 for a soft shell po-boy? That's absurd...

                      2. texasredtop Mar 21, 2010 07:22 PM

                        I've always order the oyster loaf at Casamento's but next time I'm getting the soft shell crab. I've heard it's very good.

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                        Casamento's Restaurant
                        4330 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: texasredtop
                          r
                          richardhorner Mar 22, 2010 12:26 PM

                          I just recently had the softshell loaf at Casamento's. It is very good.

                          -----
                          Casamento's Restaurant
                          4330 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115

                          1. re: richardhorner
                            s
                            scrumptiouschef Mar 22, 2010 02:01 PM

                            Captain Sal's provides a serviceable soft shell for under 9 dollars. While not in the same league as R&O's it's flavor is commensurate with it's price. Their chicken and sausage gumbo [a big tub for under 4 dollars] is rife with shreds of dark meat chicken and plentiful, low grade sausage-blonde roux, minimal rice.

                            The only thing wrong with the picture was a BLARING television featuring a fitful satellite reception. Staff were friendly and the neighborhood folks streaming in and out were pretty entertaining [drunk and out having a good time].

                            1. re: scrumptiouschef
                              m
                              midcity Mar 22, 2010 06:33 PM

                              Which Captain Sal's did you go to? There are several.

                              -----
                              Captain Sal's
                              1700 Louisiana Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115

                              1. re: midcity
                                s
                                scrumptiouschef Mar 22, 2010 08:52 PM

                                The one on Louisiana

                                http://captainsals.com/

                                1. re: scrumptiouschef
                                  c
                                  CharlieH Mar 23, 2010 07:09 AM

                                  Some how I am thinking Captain Sal's isn't Zagat rated. Good find. ch

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                                  Captain Sal's
                                  1700 Louisiana Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115

                                  1. re: CharlieH
                                    c
                                    carol land Mar 24, 2010 07:59 AM

                                    If you want to venture to Thibodaux - I had one of the best soft shell crabs I've ever eaten at a restaurant called Politz's. Excellent menu. Not much of a wine list.

                        2. r
                          rockbound Mar 25, 2010 03:09 PM

                          GW Fins in the Quarter usually does a great soft shell.A couple of years back I had a s.s. with a vanilla/cream sauce that was spot on.Maybe the best I've ever had,and I love me some soft shells.For my money GW Fins is one of the very best restaurants in town.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: rockbound
                            w
                            wizzy1982 Mar 28, 2010 12:21 PM

                            Mat and Naddie's , in the Riverbend, has one of the best I have ever had.

                          2. Reeter1 Apr 28, 2010 07:28 PM

                            Just checking in, six weeks later... Is the season over? We're coming into town this Friday and want to eat soft shell po' boys! Recommendations that are NOT in the Quarter are most welcome. We'll be stayin' in Metairie.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Reeter1
                              Bill Hunt Apr 28, 2010 08:27 PM

                              Reefer,

                              The "season" normally runs through June and usually into July. However, "seasons" can vary, and chefs might pass on softshells, though the season is still officially on-going. It just depends.

                              Some years back, we were at Brigtsen's in late June, and Chef Frank had not found good softshells. On our last night in town, about 8 days later and into July, he had them on the menu.

                              It can be a bit like "the catch of the day," with the quality dictating whether they will be on one's menu, regardless of the date.

                              Good luck, and enjoy,

                              Hunt

                              -----
                              Brigtsen's Restaurant
                              723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118

                              1. re: Bill Hunt
                                s
                                scrumptiouschef Jan 12, 2011 10:36 AM

                                Reviving the thread.

                                Supper tonight in the city. Thinking Clancy's but can go just about anywhere cause I brought the vee 8 Ford.

                                Who's bringing the best soft shells out of the freezer right now?

                                1. re: scrumptiouschef
                                  s
                                  scrumptiouschef Jan 12, 2011 08:35 PM

                                  Stanley has soft shell. Went for the poboy tonight and it was fine. Nothing special but good. Last time I had it there a couple years ago they smeared something on it that reminded me of ketchup [vile] so I asked for it with mayo and slaw only.

                                  Generous size, good bread, not a bad po boy by any stretch but not memorable.

                                  The gumbo was outstanding with a mahogany roux, plentiful andouille and a smattering of oysters.

                                  Pic of softshell below.

                                   
                                  1. re: scrumptiouschef
                                    c
                                    CharlieH Jan 13, 2011 06:00 AM

                                    Hey chef, what, no advance warning that you would be doing your part to boost our local economy. You know I have come to think that the best deal on soft shell crabs in the City is actually Galatoire's. $18 a crab. That's cheaper than R&O, and the bread is free! Keep us posted on your epicurean feats.

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                                    Galatoire's Restaurant
                                    209 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70130

                                    1. re: CharlieH
                                      s
                                      scrumptiouschef Jan 13, 2011 08:00 AM

                                      The title of "my favorite restaurant in New Orleans" has changed several times over the years.

                                      As a kid I would've said Chez Helene mainly due to their superb fried chicken.

                                      Then I discovered Brennans' and couldn't get enough of their take on old school New Orleans classics.

                                      Commanders Palace wore the crown for a while as did Herbsaint.

                                      Currently my favorite is Domenica.

                                      While I doubt soft shell will make the menu there any time soon Chef Alon Shaya's kitchen wizardry puts him at the top of my must visits on my trips over here.

                                      -----
                                      Herbsaint
                                      701 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

                                      Domenica
                                      123 Baronne Street, New Orleans, LA 70112

                                      1. re: scrumptiouschef
                                        c
                                        CharlieH Jan 13, 2011 08:12 AM

                                        Admittedly, I haven't tried everything on the menu at Domenica, but sometimes I think all the rustic Italian fare is a bit too much like home cooking. Love the pizza though, kids dig it too, so everybody gets to go. ch

                                        -----
                                        Domenica
                                        123 Baronne Street, New Orleans, LA 70112

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