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chargrilled oysters

To get my fix of chargrilled oysters, do I need to go to Drago's, or are the versions at Acme, Felix's, Superior, or elsewhere just as good? By Drago's I mean the one at the Hilton. I love the chargrilled oysters, but the location in the Hilton just turns me off, and I'd rather go elsewhere if possible. Acme or Felix's is going to be a stop on my itinerary regardless.

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  1. If you have a car, go out to Drago's in Metairie, worth the drive; food is superior. I do not care for the Hilton location at all.!!!! Have had a passable version at Acme in Metairie, I have never waited in line to get into the FQ location, but would guess that it would be OK. Felix's has been in flux of late, not sure about their version.

    4 Replies
      1. re: LorenzoGA

        The previous ownership of Felix's took it into bankruptcy court and during its travails at that time it had to operate without a liquor license.

        It thankfully now has new properly capitalized ownership, and a new liquor license, and serves the same great oysters.

        1. re: Gizmo56

          During a mid July visit to Felix those in the group who ordered grilled oysters thought they were quite good. One of those makes very good grilled oysters himself. I had fried oyster salad that was also good. New atmosphere there is pretty weak.

          1. re: collardman

            We were just there. Agreed about the new atmosphere –– it was better pre-renovation. But the raw oysters were still delicious and the staff were still friendly, and no silly line like Acme across the street.

            As far as chargrilled oysters go, we had some delicious specimens at Casamento's.

    1. For what it is worth, I think the Acme chargrilled oysters are better than Drago's in the Hilton. I have never been to the Metaire location so I have no comment on that.

      1. My take is as follows: I've had chargrilled oysters at both of Drago's locations (many times in Metarie, once in the Hilton) and I found the ones I had in the Hilton to be more-or-less equivalent to those in Metarie (I know I'm swimming against the current here on that one). I've also had them in many other places, including Felix among those mentioned above, and have never yet hit any that were even close to Drago's in quality; in fact, I have invariably found them to be pathetic in comparison. So my recommendation would be to go to Drago. Personally I'm fine with driving out to Metarie (when we visit NOLA, we stay at an RV park on the Industrial and always get around by car, including street parking in the FQ). If that's not possible then go to the Hilton.

        1. I am not local - tourist from the left coast - I have only had the charbroiled oysters at Drago's in Metarie - really good! Was in town last April for the Women's Final Four - had 1/2 dozen charbroiled and the cob salad - was a very happy camper.
          I did see charbroiled oysters on the menu at Oceana on Conti in the Quarter, made a note to try them on my next trip.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Bigshadetree

            I'm guessing you haven't seen the Kitchen Nightmares "Oceana" episode or more recently:
            http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ss....

            1. re: JazzyB

              Whoa - I'm going to check this episode out - thanks!

          2. My dislike of the Drago's at the Hilton location has nothing to do with the food. It is the service...or rather the lack thereof.
            Servers were aloof, almost downright rude. Once was enough.

            1 Reply
            1. re: TaTee

              It sounds like we had similar experiences, except that what we got, seemed to have already been eaten by others - shells, with bread crumbs, and maybe a bit of cheese, and if there were any oysters, they were finely minced?

              Unless I hit the Lottery, and decided to "take one for the team," I would never return.

              For anyone interested, a full review is on this board, about 3-4 years ago.

              Hunt

            2. The popularity of the chargrilled oysters you mention is not actually the chargrilled oyster itself rather, the garlic/butter/parmesan sauce and sopping bread. Admittedly delicious, however the oysters are generally overcooked tough and chewy.

              Anyone interested in trying (IMO) the "gold standard" should go to GW Fins for their cold smoked, sizzling, chargrilled oysters. Perfectly plump and succulent with a lovely smoky undertone. Cochon's wood grilled oysters are delicious as well.

              2 Replies
              1. re: JazzyB

                Great addition to this thread!--thanks. Sounds reminiscent of a Carolina "oyster roast"--just oysters over a fire.

                1. re: JazzyB

                  I have to say I have never, over several visits, ever found the charbroiled oysters at Dragos to be overcooked, tough, or chewy, and that includes my one visit to the Hilton location.

                  Nevertheless, based on your recommendation, I may slide by GWF next time in town and see about theirs.

                  I would add that, in contrast with Bill's often-remarked-upon bad experience at the Hilton, I found the service there on my visit to be perfectly adequate, if nothing extraordinary. I guess every place has good days and bad.

                2. In my many annual visits to my favorite foodie city, I always make it a point to go to Felix's for their chargrilled oysters. I am anxious about the changing of ownership there, but I will be in NOLA in 2 weeks & will find myself back at Felix's for another 2 or 3 dozen chargrilled oysters. I tried them once at Acme & that was enough for me. Commenting about Oceana, 8 of us went there one late afternoon for gumbo & walked out after 2 spoonfuls of what tasted like tomato/rice soup. Never went back. Oh! Here's an afternoon snack tip: if you like fried pickles, go to Fiorella's on Decatur (you can also enter on the French Market side). Order them & a cold drink & you will not be disappointed. Their fried chicken used to be on the money, but not anymore.

                  1. They're actually very good at the French Market Cafe.

                    1. We have not had chargrilled oysters in too many places. The Chimes in Covington were tasty but they ruined it by stacking the shells on top of the oysters. IMHO this is as bad a having a hair on my plate. Drago's was the best we have had by far and that was in The Hilton. We have had them at Fatty's in Picayune, MS, Drago's, The Chimes and a couple of other places off the beaten track.

                      1. If we stipulate that Drago's oysters are at least very good if not the best, I wonder if their sourcing has anything to do with their quality compared to others. If I understand correctly, Drago has his own sourcing operation; the fishermen (aquaculturalists??) work for him; he controls his own oyster beds and the processing plant; the transportation to the restaurants is in his own trucks. In short, he can select the best, sell off the rest, and insure the quality of the product he is serving, while most if not all others are dependent on suppliers. It's got to help.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: johnb

                          I have a couple of oyster gonnegshuns and will inquire about Drago's source. The story about owning one's own oyster beds is as old as time (Black's in Abbeville claimed this years ago) and often disputatious, like the bit about never frozen shrimp or turtle soup that takes three days to make.

                          1. re: hazelhurst

                            I'd be very interested to hear what you find out. Here is what he says about it on his website:

                            http://www.dragosrestaurant.com/about...

                            Note he doesn't explicitly claim to own beds, but only to "pamper" them before harvest, whatever that may include.

                            I'll be at Drago's having oysters in about an hour. If the opportunity presents itself I'll make some gentle inquiries and report what I hear.

                            1. re: johnb

                              Now back from Drago's (Metarie). The oysters today tasted as good as ever, but were not as plump as usual. We also noted this a couple of days ago at Wintzell's in Mobile, and moreso at the Original Oyster House, so maybe it's a seasonal thing?

                              Anyway, I spoke to the lady at the entrance, and she says the fishermen are the same who have been supplying them for 25 years or more, and mostly work for Drago, but are independent and sell to others as well if they have more than Drago can take. They are loaded directly from the boats into Drago's trucks and hauled to the restaurants. So take it FWIW.

                              1. re: johnb

                                I spoke to a source--not the oysterman himself, though--yesterday who said (A) most restaurateurs in this area buy from the same core group and (B) Drago's uses a fairly set crew, including a cousin, of course. Same story I've heard elsewhere: Get the stuff you are starting in the public beds and move them to the private beds. I'd say Drago's supplies are on a par with Big Easy and Rock Hard oyster companies..and I can never keep up with who owns those two: seems to trade around like penny stocks.

                                1. re: hazelhurst

                                  <<<<<I'd say Drago's supplies are on a par with Big Easy and Rock Hard oyster companies..and I can never keep up with who owns those two: seems to trade around like penny stocks.>>>>

                                  Could it be they are more like loose co-ops, with "members" coming and going as they wish? My impression of oystermen is they are a pretty independent breed who are really hard to pin down, though I don't know any personally. Seems pretty much the same up in the Chesapeake Bay, which I'm slightly more familiar with.

                                  1. re: johnb

                                    That's a point, I don't know. I gather that the two companies I mentioned are of the same family/families and my guy told me that HE can't keep up with who-owns-what. Its an insular world. I'll try to catch up with the RockHard guy this week..I think I know where he might deliver on Wednesday and I'll try to lie-in-wait.

                                    1. re: hazelhurst

                                      Gosh. What dedication to the Chowhound Ideal! You are to be commended. And of course get a good lunch in the bargain.

                                    2. re: johnb

                                      I believe many, if not most, of the boat owners who go after fish, shrimp or oysters are independent. They then sell to a buyer which may be an independent business or, in some areas, co-ops A classic boat design in the Chesapeake was the Buy Boat. In New England there are co-ops.
                                      It is a symbiotic relationship. As long as a fisher brings in the quality and amount a buyer needs they are tight. As long as the buyer buys some or all from the fisher at the right price they are tight.
                                      But any imbalance and their individual interests part. It is a market place.
                                      I'm sure there are some long term alliances but even those have probably been strained from time to time by economics and/or nature.

                            2. I (the OP) am back from my trip and ended up at ... Drago's at the Hilton. Oh well. I really wanted to try Drago's-style chargrilled oysters (or a variation on the theme) somewhere else per recommendations in this thread, but tried-and-true Drago's won out. We sat at the bar right in front of the grill and watched the show. It's quite the Dante's Inferno. For those who have not observed, they load the grill with oysters, then unceremoniously dump/toss handfuls of a mixture that I assume is parmesan cheese (more likely "parmesan" along the lines of Kraft from the old green can) and breadcrumbs on the oysters. Then they ladle on what appears to be oil--perhaps butter-flavored. As the flames shoot up, they squirt water on the grill to bring it back under control. Very impressive. This was probably my third time at this Drago's, but I guess I never really observed the process very closely.

                              The bottom line is that the chargrilled oysters tasted just as good as I remembered them. The oysters were reasonably plump and intact, considering they had been sitting in the middle of a fire surrounded by a hundred others, with only one or two guys tending the grill. And sure, there are bits of shell, but that will happen when the shuckers are in the weeds. It's quite a production. Maybe for best results try going during a less busy time of day? I regret that I will have to return to New Orleans many times until I find the perfect chargrilled oyster. Keep the suggestions coming!

                              1. We eat oysters at Acme at least twice every trip.