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Shrimp and Grits - SF Dish of the Month January 2014

The SF Bay Area Dish of the Month for January 2014 is Shrimp and Grits!

Now is your chance to try versions of Shrimp & Grits that you haven't tasted before. Report back with reviews and photos, and let's aim as a community to try as many versions of Shrimp & Grits as possible!

Some useful discussions of Shrimp & Grits from two voting threads:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9216...
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9280...

Here's a link to the this month's vote:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/928077

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  1. Pican/Oakland's Voodoo shrimp and grits. The grits have enough butter to float a cow, and atop are large shrimp in a spicy creamy sauce of Tasso ham, beer and bourbon.

    The beer/bacon/bourbon sauce with the shrimp is to die for. It's one of the most inspired riffs on a beurre rouge (itself a red-wine variant on the classic beurre blanc) that we've ever encountered. The shrimp were cooked perfectly, tender and sweet.

    The quality of the grits is superb, as well. Pican's are far better than Brown Sugar Kitchen's version.

    8 Replies
    1. re: jaiko

      jaiko, CH needs to install a "Drool" button so I can respond appropriately to your post. Nice kickoff to the Jan thread. Pican just moved up the list for next visit.

      1. re: grayelf

        and you're not here until May??? i may not be able to wait that long!

        I've not eaten at Pican, only been for drinks. Didn't love the atmosphere much but for that dish..... wow....

        1. re: mariacarmen

          Go, mc, go! Don't wait... though I will be jelly :-). What about Pican's atmo didn't strike you?

          1. re: grayelf

            it's a little too.... stuffy? sceney? i don't know....i'd just prefer a more casual place. but i'll try it! not sure when, but i'll let you know if i do.

            1. re: mariacarmen

              I wouldn't describe Pican as either stuffy or sceney, but we're retired so we're walking in wearing Polarfleece, open-toed sandals with socks, or my beat-up Tevas. Dinner or brunch, we've never felt out of place.

              Service at Pican, however, suffers at dinner when they're more popular as an after-work place. Brunch is more relaxed and easy going; not a lot of people have discovered it although they've been doing brunch for years.

      2. re: jaiko

        Jaiko, hohhh, I'm on it!

        Grayelf, I agree! Add a drool tray w the button.

        Newbie CH'er here...

        1. re: jaiko

          Do you know if they use farmed, or wild shrimp?

          1. re: jaiko

            Sadly, if we (collectively) snooze, we lose...our party of four was just at Pican for brunch on Sat 2/08, and the VooDoo shrimp & grits are off the menu for now.

            Currently the brunch menu lists "Gulf Shrimp & Grits", with fried okra and something called 'brown butter Worcestershire gravy': http://www.picanrestaurant.com/Docume...

            Our group was in the mood for other things so we didn't try it. Even more sad that they also took the chile pancakes with creamy sausage gravy out, that was a winner too on our Jan 2014 visit. But the excellent spicy collard greens hash is a regular, thankfully, as is the fried chicken Benedict. Chef Uong can really do wonders with her riffs on French butter sauces.

            Brunch is a lot of fun at Pican. Do a bourbon tasting afterwards and the bartenders have much more time to talk about what you might like.

          2. I tried the shrimp & grits today at NOLA in Palo Alto. I don't recommend it. All the individual components are great, but there is not enough sauce, so the proportions of shrimp to grits to sauce seems wrong; the sauce doesn't really punch through.

            http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssfire/1...

            1. has anyone tried Brenda's?
              http://frenchsoulfood.com/dinner

              I've only had Mr. Pollo's version (last year, so of course, not on a regular menu), and Sable's version in Chicago, which does not count since it's not SF Bay Area - http://www.sablechicago.com/

              but both were amazing and inspired me to try the dish at home myself - and i was frankly thrilled with my own results. Pican's version sounds very intriguing too....

              1 Reply
              1. re: mariacarmen

                Yes. The version in the link was pretty good. I had another version there as well that might have been a special. I think it was titled BBQ Shrimp & Grits that wasn't as well balanced. The sauce took over and it was too sweet.

              2. Haven't had a chance to get out for shrimp & grits yet this year, but I thought I would share that the best rendition I have had in SF was actually the crab & grits at the Front Porch. If they used shrimp instead of crab I am sure I would have loved the dish just as much.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Civil Bear

                  thanks for this, Civil Bear - i've only had their chicken. Since it's so near me, i'll have to give their shrimp & grits a shot.

                  1. re: Civil Bear

                    I agree. The Front Porch crabs & grits is great, or at least, was great the last time I had it.

                    1. re: Civil Bear

                      oops saw this just after i wrote about shrimp and grits at the front porch :) last time i was there they had shrimp and grits, not crab and grits but both sound equally yummy!

                    2. run and get thee to Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland for an impeccible Creole rendition: shrimp are bathed in a deep, luscious red sauce with a medley of Nolo spices beyond my ability to parse. Suffice it to say: rich, deep flavors that are addictive.

                      it's not always on the menu, so call ahead. or do as I did one time: cry when the server says they don't have it, and then smile when he offered to ask the chef who then accommodated my craving.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: escargot3

                        you charmer you!
                        i can't believe i still haven't tried that place... must rectify!

                        1. re: escargot3

                          It's on BSK's weekday breakfast menu (7-11:30am) and Sunday brunch menu (8am-3pm) so showing up @ 12:30 was a no-go.

                          I didn't shed any tears so had to "settle" for their fried chicken & waffle. OT: that cornmeal waffle is amazing!

                          1. re: escargot3

                            Agree with the recommendation of the shrimp and grits at BSK. The problem with BSK is that it's difficult to decide what to order -- everything I've had there has been great.