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Where to find "clean" oysters in NOLA?

We (hubby and I) are headed to NOLA on Wednesday and will be there for a week. We love oysters, esp. raw. After reading about dirty muddy shells at Casamento's and Acme, we are wondering where to get our fix at a reasonable price. Staying in the Quarter, no vehicle. Thanks.

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  1. Never had that problem. The insides are never muddy.

    1. We ate oysters at Cochon, Felix, and Luke without encountering any problems with mud so you might want to consider those place. (I didn't read the post the OP is referring to, so I don't know if those three restaurants served muddy oysters to someone.)

      Having said this, I'll confess that I'm a fan of tangy/briny oysters and Gulf oysters seem bland in comparison. That's why I preferred the grilled versions we ate on our trip.

      My favorite version was at Cochon. If you like food on the spicy side, consider ordering their grilled oysters with Chili butter. There was enough chili heat in the dish to walk the line at my comfort level, but that was half the pleasure: the first burst of heat followed by the mild oyster itself.

      If there was any garlic in Luke's version of oysters persillade, I couldn't discern it. There definitely wasn't any vinegar or hot sauce as it came to the table. I added about two drops of Tabasco sauce to each oyster and enjoyed the results, although I think Crystal would have been a better option than Tabasco. Both have legitimate Lousiana bona fides.

      I enjoyed the grilled oysters with white wine and lemon at Felix. Less enthusiasm for their raw oysters, but that had to do with the flavor of the oyster itself and nothing to do with mud or poor shucking.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Indy 67

        There was no specific Chowhound post regarding muddy oysters at Casamento's, but it did come up in many reviews that we read, hence my question.

        We also prefer briny oysters. Our absolute favourites are Chincoteague, but as we are in Canada don't have many opportunities to have them.

        The grilled oysters with chili butter at Cochon sound fabulous.

        Do you know if any of the oyster bars serve mignonette with their oysters, or can it be ordered? Is green Tabasco ever available?

        Thanks.

        1. re: durhamgal

          I must be ignorant but I do not see how mud can remain on the shells from harvesting to shucking. Oysters are removed from the bed and hauled up through a layer of water. Put into a water well on the boat, filled with, you know, water. Taken to the processing plant where they are washed with, again, water. Sorted by size and boxed or bagged. Transported to some extremely famous restaurants where they sit on ice at the raw bar. Then they are picked up by an experienced food service professional who shucks them but pays no attention to the mud on the shell which must come off easily when the unsuspecting oyster eater eats the oyster. Seems like some magical mud to me.

          1. re: Chulacat

            Seems like you've never taken a sack home and poured it out. Mud everywhere. At oyster bars you often see the shuckers scrubbing the outer shell before shucking. It removes the mud and if they don't scrub, you'll notice.

            1. re: James Cristinian

              Absolutely true. Sticky, sticky mud....anyone who thinks that Gulf Coast (esp LA) oysters aren't muddy as hell on the exteriors has never experienced them.

              And since when do oysters go from the fisherman to the "processing house". Many LA oysters go from the fisherman to a wholesaler to a restaurant with minimal handling. All are certainly NOT sorted by size or washed.

              1. re: Hungry Celeste

                My experience is with Texas oysters, same deal, no processing house. We can by them right where the boat unloads and where they are sacked.

          2. re: durhamgal

            Chincoteagues! You are a woman of taste and discernment! Did you ever make it to Pony Penning Day?

            At Felix, there was no mignonette. You're given an empty cup where you mix the ketchup, horseradish, and, I think, Tabasco that was available on each table. Since Tabasco contains less vinegar than Crystal, I thought the sauce needed more acid. (One lone wedge is provided with the plate of oysters.) I prefer mignonette and, even when eating cocktail sauce, I like mine quite acidic, I asked for many additional lemon wedges and kept squeezing the small wedges until I got something closer to what I prefer. But it wasn't mignonette!

            I suspect any restaurant with red Tabasco on each table also has one bottle of green somewhere in house.

            I got grilled oysters in the other places so mignonette wasn't an issue.

            1. re: Indy 67

              Alas, no, we were never there in the summer, only in the fall. We did go to the Chincoteague Oyster Festival once. Lots of fun!

              Sounds like we have much the same taste in oysters. I agree about the Crystal (which I believe is not available here, although we do have Texas Pete). I'll be sure to ask for extra lemon wedges, and think I'll carry a little bottle of green Tabasco in my purse :)

              One more day - can't wait!

        2. Casamento's is about the only place I have been that they were exceptionally muddy. When they were that muddy some of the mud got onto the meat or when I drank the nectar. Felix's were clean and no one offered mignonette, Gulf Oysters are so plump and have their own flavor. they are my favorite but we can not get them because their shell is so thick therefore expensive to ship.

          1. Pascal's Manale has an oyster bar in their front room. Always cold and delicious. IMHO the best oysters and experience in NOLA. The French Quarter mainstays (Acme, Felix) have moved away from quality in order to meet the needs of the tourists.

            1 Reply
            1. re: sirvelvet

              We have a dinner reservation at Pascal's Manale, and will definitely be eating oysters there. The entire menu sounds really good; making choices will be the difficult part.

            2. IMHO, all of the gulf oysters everywhere we ate tasted muddy and/or flabby. We are used to cold water Pacific oysters and found gulf oysters to be just nasty. (on the other hand, the turtle soup was awesome -- it was different everywhere we tried it and we like them all)

              7 Replies
              1. re: marcyfitz

                small cold water oysters are pretty good...im not as fond of big sloppy oysters.

                1. re: kibbles

                  We are not so crazy about "big sloppy oysters" either. Generally prefer east coast to west coast, for sure. Love the briny flavour!

                2. re: marcyfitz

                  But big ol flabby muddy gulf oysters are damn near perfect when fried. They're big & meaty enough not to shrivel into rubbery bits when deep fried...or char-grilled.

                  1. re: Hungry Celeste

                    We can't wait to try the char grilled - they sound amazing! (Drooling already....)

                    1. re: durhamgal

                      What are the raw oysters like at the french market? Raw oysters and a bloody Mary from molly's seems like a devine pair.

                  2. re: marcyfitz

                    Shh. We in the Southeast do not want to be reminded that the oysters we know and love are second-rate. I remember the first time I ate a Pacific oyster. I was told a big grin came over my face. Gulf oysters can be muddy and can lack the subtle brininess of Pacific oysters and, for that matter, some Northeast oysters. But they're OUR oysters, so I have to love 'em. And I can't imaging frying up some Kumamotos for a po'boy--it just seems wrong.

                    1. re: LorenzoGA

                      I can't imagine frying up some of those high dollar oysters for a po'boy, a 30 dollar po'boy. Gulf oysters vary wildly bay to bay and season to season. I've had vary briny local oysters on many occasions. I once got into a protracted argument on this board about the so called inferior Galveston oyster to the LA oyster. The poster claimed the Galveston oyster was too salty.

                  3. To start with, I have never hand muddy oysters in any restaurant in Louisana.

                    Just as Chardonnay -- or Riesling or Cabernet or any other varietal wine one could name -- is a product of BOTH the raw material itself AND the terroir -- the specific geographic place of origin -- so, too, are the oysters. Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) are found up and down the East Coast of the United States and Canada, AS WELL AS the Gulf Coast! It's the SAME oyster! See http://www.wsg.washington.edu/oysters... or http://localfoods.about.com/od/shellf...

                    The ONLY difference between (e.g.) Bluepoints, Wellfleets, Malpeques, Beausoleils, and Apalachicolas is the climate -- the water temperature, salinity, nutrients, etc, etc. in which the oyster beds are located.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: zin1953

                      But! But! But!

                      Nobody ever mistook an Apalachicola for a Wellfleet. So "same" maybe but please, don't omit the scare quotes.

                      (All that said, Gulf oysters are fabulous cooked; cold water ones are great with a drop of lemon. I'm glad to have access to both.)

                      1. re: montuori

                        But THAT is PRECISELY my point!

                        The exact same oyster, raised in two different places, will have VERY different characteristics -- be it an Apalachicola or a Wellfleet. Of course they are different! And EACH is to be savored for its own individual characteristics . . .

                        We humans, each with our own personal palate preferences, certainly have our favorites -- just as I may prefer, for example, the Chardonnays that originate in the Chablis region of France over those that come from Santa Barbara County in California -- doesn't mean the oysters from another region are poor . . . merely that they are different. And, strictly speaking for myself, I love the differences!¹

                        When I arrive in Boston, I can't wait for a dozen Wellfleets (e.g.) on the half-shell; in New York, bring on the Bluepoints! And I look forward to a dozen Gulf oysters and a pitcher of Abita Amber long before the plane lands in New Orleans . . .

                        On a personal note, I'm quite happy to be in San Francisco (well, Berkeley), with steady access to a wide variety of cold water Pacific oysters like Kumamotos (Crassostrea sikamea), Miyagis, Fanny Bays and Hog Island's Sweetwater oysters (all Crassostrea gigs) . . .

                        _______________
                        ¹ One of our favorite things to do is go to a place like the Grand Central Oyster Bar and order 2-4 oysters each from different but similar locations (e.g.: all from Maine; or all from the waters off eastern Canada) and compare them side-by-side.

                        1. re: montuori

                          Aquaculture has probably introduced more variables than we can count in terms of variation in characteristics among varieties of Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica).