#15 Among The 33 Best Seafood Eateries
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
During the past few years New Orleans restaurateurs and their customers showed an expanded interest in whole fish. For the first time in decades, it’s drawing card for restaurants willing to undertake the purchase and preparation of whole fish, which are much more challenging than fillets. A lot of the increase can be blamed on the Restaurant Depot, a wholesale store that makes whole fish much more easily available for restaurants than it has been in a long time.
The most celebrated vendor of whole and very basic fish is the new Peche, but they are hardly the only ones. Basin Seafood, which opened around the same time Peche did, is a comparably good.
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Basin Seafood is your basic utilitarian seafood house in every regard except one. Although it plies the flow of Louisiana fish and shellfish to build its menu, this is not the place if you’re hungry for a fried seafood platter. The techniques of cooking and the flavors that result from them are from a different cookbook, although not one that is likely to puzzle any eater for long. Sauces, even the ones that sound as if they make a strong statement, step aside to let the fish take over.
The less complicated the dish, the better it’s likely to be here. The whole fish dish of the day begins with first-class piscine specimens. With only one exception (the frying, here for those who recognize no other way to have fish cooked, and not as good as the other fish dishes), the fish is cooked a point, such gossamer textures that it comes right off the bone. The menu shows three times as many starters and entrees, a cue as to how to play the game.
Chef Edgar Caro, the Colombian native who made a big hit up Magazine Street with Baru Bistro, opened Basin in mid-2013, with a couple of partners with deep roots in the seafood world. They took over a historic space: the former Flagons, in the 1980s the city’s first wine bar.
Basin took over the space from a worn-out old pizza joint, and didn’t change it much. Except for the many people whose idea of a real New Orleans place is Jacque’s-Imo’s or Uglesich’s, the premises are a bit cramped and battered. The open kitchen fills the room with good aromas from the stove. Tables are not entirely out of the kitchen traffic. The most popular seats are on the sidewalk outside, which blend with the outside tables of neighboring Amici and Salu. Or the ones on the small patio behind the restaurant.
More ruminations appear in our Dining Diary. Click on any of the dates below for those reports, each written a few days after a meal at Basin Seafood.
FULL ONLINE MENU
Sashimi of escolar, pickled pears
Basin shrimp cocktail, cilantro | sour orange juice
Octopus ceviche, habanero, avocado, jicama slaw
Crawfish pupusas, loroco cheese, beet curtido
Charbroiled oysters (like Drago’s)
Crab and crawfish beignets, jalapeño mayo
Seafood au gratin (fish, octopus, shrimp, crabmeat
Royal red shrimp, garlic butter
Crabmeat & oyster mushroom risotto
Cajun fries, bacon, trio of sauces
Crab & corn bisque
Fried oyster Caesar salad
Beer-battered fish tacos
Fried catfish, braised kale, andouille, creamed crawfish
Grilled tuna steak sandwich
Bacon wrapped swordfish, oyster mushroom risotto
Grilled hanger steak, jalapeño chimichurri
FOR BEST RESULTS
The ultimate meal here is to split the whole fish two ways, after preceding it with at least two runs of appetizers. On Mondays, raw oysters go for fifty cents each through the early evening. The interesting assortment of craft beers are perfect for the food.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The place is quite a bit worse for wear, and someday will need a thorough renovation. If they take the trouble to serve fresh-cut fries, why do they not also fry them to order?
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment -1
- Consistency +1
- Value +1
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar
- Hipness +2
- Local Color +1
- Sidewalk tables
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open all afternoon
- Oyster bar
- Difficult curbside parking; you may have to walk a few blocks.
- No reservations