#1 Among The 33 Best Seafood Eateries
4 Fleur
EntreePrice-29
BreakfastNo Breakfast SundayNo Breakfast MondayNo Breakfast TuesdayNo Breakfast WednesdayNo Breakfast ThursdayNo Breakfast FridayNo Breakfast Saturday
LunchNo Lunch SundayNo Lunch MondayNo Lunch TuesdayNo Lunch WednesdayNo Lunch ThursdayNo Lunch FridayNo Lunch Saturday
DinnerDinner SundayDinner MondayDinner TuesdayDinner WednesdayDinner ThursdayDinner FridayDinner Saturday

GW Fins

French Quarter: 808 Bienville. 504-581-3467. Map.
Nice Casual.
AE DC DS MC V
Website

ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
It’s not well appreciated by restaurant patrons how difficult it is for a restaurant to serve consistently top-class seafood. Even here in New Orleans, it’s a challenge for a restaurant to track down the good stuff. Part of this is because the resource is waning, but even more vexing is the inconsistency of availability. So the two owners of GW Fins–both of whom came into the business with full knowledge of the situation–must at times have wondered whether they were out of their minds to attempt a fish-specialized menu with a dozen species on the menu on a bad day. It is a testimonial to their skill that they have pulled it off. Thereby, they have created the best seafood restaurant in New Orleans.

Scalibut.

Scalibut.

WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
GW Fins does with seafood what the prime steakhouses do with beef. The kitchen’s main task is finding top-quality finfish and shellfish wherever it is to be found. Surprisingly few restaurants put forth much effort in that direction, making any that do stand out. Fins’ co-owner/chef Tenney Flynn’s seafood procurement machine brings great surprises to the table every night.

Crab cake.

Crab cake.

WHAT’S GOOD
Fish being the elusive ingredient that it is, no good fish house has the same resources every day. GW Fins prints a new menu every day to reflect its discoveries, with a dozen or more species of finfish every day. Half are local, half exotic. That’s also true of the cooking style. You can get a great sauteed redfish with crabmeat on top like you can everywhere else, or something completely unique. Occasional special menus bring forth rare items like Australian crabs and exotic tunas. All of this is prepared simply and very well, in portions substantial enough so you can taste the stuff.

Lobster dumplings.

Lobster dumplings.

BACKSTORY
Owners Gary Wollerman and Tenney Flynn were the top guys in the Ruth’s Chris Steak House operation nationwide until Ruth sold to the corporate guys. They left to start this restaurant in 2001. They opened a barbecue joint on Iberville Street called Zydeque that they later sold, and an unsuccessful branch of GWFins in Charlotte, NC. Meanwhile, GW Fins just kept getting better.

GW Fins on a busy night.

GW Fins on a busy night.

DINING ROOM
An old D.H. Holmes warehouse, rebuilt without completely removing all the industrial-look stuff, begat a sharp, modern dining space. Space, in fact, is the key word. Lots of it between the tables, floor to ceiling, in the bar, in the bathrooms, everywhere. The wall of windows in front allows a great view of Arnaud’s, across the street.

BEST DISHES
Menu changes daily, but a few dishes are usually there (if the fish is available):
Seafood gumbo
Lobster dumplings
Smoked, sizzling oysters on the shell
Tuna tartare and sashimi
Horseradish-crusted drum
Short-smoked salmon
Sea scallops with mushroom risotto
Wood-grilled pompano
Grilled lamb chops
Baked-to-order apple pie
White chocolate bread pudding
Valhrona Chocolate Cake

FOR BEST RESULTS
If a special menu is running, give it priority. Don’t eat too many of the complimentary sweet drop biscuits they pass around at the beginning. Spend more time than usual with the menu, on the back of which is a large wine list with dozens of wines by the glass.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The Chilean sea bass is interesting, but I object to its presence on the menu. (Chef Tenney seems to have minimized its appearances.) They could use more appetizers. I wish they were open for Friday lunches throughout the year. (They are only during the holidays.)

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 +2
  • Consistency +2
  • Service+1
  • Value +1
  • Attitude +2
  • Wine & Bar +2
  • Hipness +1
  • Local Color +2

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

  • Romantic
  • Good view
  • Good for business meetings
  • Many private rooms
  • Open Sunday dinner
  • Open Monday dinner
  • Historic
  • Good for children
  • Validated parking
  • Reservations accepted

 

2 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. Lois Boagni on April 3, 2015

    It is the best. We love everything we’ve had there from start to GREAT ! Staff great

  2. rt on April 8, 2015

    I could almost vote this place as the best restaurant in the city, not just the best seafood restaurant. Not only is the food great, but they pour great drinks. My only problem is the servers treat everyone like tourists. I know this is a tourist town, but not everyone is a tourist who enjoys this restaurant. Once I inform the service staff, then they calm down and just be cool. Another issue is they try to rush you out to turn the table over. For the prices one is paying at this place, one should be able to enjoy dinner and drink without feeling rushed. By the way, it does not help to get a reservation when you tell them you are a local.

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