Barbecue Shrimp @ Mr. B’s Bistro
The dish we misname barbecue shrimp is one of the greatest creations of Creole cookery. All credit for its invention go to Pascal’s Manale, which not only introduced it but made it popular. Not that it requires much persuading. Even for people who don’t like shrimp especially (and I’m not really crazy about them), a bowl of well-made barbecue shrimp is lusty and spicy and rich and seafoody and all the other things you want out of the experience of eating New Orleans food.
Manale’s version is still good, and there are others around town I like a great deal. But Manale’s can’t really change its recipe, even for an improvement. Mr. B’s was not under such a restriction when Chef Gerard Maras, intrigued by the possibilities, changed the dish just enough. He cooked it more or less in the standard way, but at the last minute before serving the dish was served, he emulsified some additional butter into the sauce. That not only made it look better, but it gave the sauce an even greater flavor release.
There’s only one thing wrong with barbecue shrimp, and it’s not the mess from having to eat heads-on shrimp. It’s that this quantity of butter in a dish means it’s something the average person can’t really eat all that often, unless his cholesterol is very low. But we do it anyway, I guess.
Mr. B’s Bistro. French Quarter: 201 Royal. 504-523-2078.
This is among the 500 best dishes in New Orleans area restaurants. Click here for a list of the other 499.