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 like drunken sailors on a three-day shore leave (no offense to all the sailors out there . . .) and dodging the occasional stray cat or two, hunger reared its ravenous head. I'm not one to ignore such pangs, especially in a place where the food is renowned to be fabulous.
Truth be told, minus the frenzied carousing of Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street is still a bit seedy. After the whole experience, I felt like I needed to take a long shower. Despite that grimy picture, Bourbon Street 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. You know the type: they stand just outside the doors of whatever restaurant they so happen to be working at and slowly entice you into their establishment with promises of yummy fare, drinks that pack a punch like liquid octane and music that will keep you dancing long after you've left the restaurant.
Yeah, I fell for it.
A large, comfortable space with plenty of seating, Pier 424 was surprisingly empty at lunchtime, which should have been a warning sign but, luckily, it wasn’t. My waitress Tiffany, an affable sort who grinned wide and often despite having a missing tooth in the center of her face, 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.
My inquisitive nature (e.g. being nosey) compelled me to ask the folks at my neighboring table 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.
Pier 424 Seafood Market Restaurant
424 Bourbon Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
ON THE WEB: http://www.pier424seafoodmarket.com/