Blue Crab

Written by Mary Ann Fitzmorris April 01, 2023 13:15 in Dining Diary

Once upon a time, I was just nuts about The Blue Crab at the New Orleans Lakefront. I remember when they broke ground to build it. The idea was for it to harken back to the days of the West End and they actually delivered on that promise. Nothing will ever compare to the West End and the times when it reigned as the premier family seafood spot for generations of Orleanians.

But the Blue Crab is the perfect 21st-century version of that and it offers much better versions of seafood for these generations of Orleanians. With its patio looking out on the marina at the West End, this is a modern version of happy times spent gathering with family and friends over fried and now grilled seafood.

They do everything right at The Blue Crab, from great boiled seafood to superb chargrilled oysters, and even house-cut french fries.

And then we got our own waterfront place on the Northshore in Mandeville called Rest-A-While. Suddenly The Blue Crab seemed worn and tired. We stayed over here and brought our friends to our new place.

But recently family was in town and all were on the Southshore, forcing a serious return visit to The Blue Crab.

We had a large party on the patio on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The place was filled to capacity, including the downstairs fast-casual version with its tables spilling out right to the water. A band played downstairs, which usually annoys me, but it was far enough away to allow for conversation, and to set a mood of happiness. People danced and the mood of happiness was so happy my sister remarked more than a few times about return visits with her friends.

We started with two dozen chargrilled oysters, which were devoured by this group. They came in second behind Rest-A-While but way ahead of Drago’s, the former standard-bearer and originator of this now classic local dish. We also got the Blue Crab dip and some fried eggplant with marinara.

The chargrilled oysters here are great. They have a nice Parmesan component and crust, but also a substantial butter sauce puddle in each for dipping the French bread. They are large and meaty and everything one would want in a chargrilled oyster.

One of Tom's oysters had a clam attached, so he got a little Lagniappe.

I have always loved the Blue Crab dip here. It is creamy and cheesy and full of flavor. It is loaded with crabmeat and served with large blue corn tortilla chips. This portion seemed smaller than I remember, but it could also be my imagination. For $16.95 I still thought this was a bargain. 

The fried eggplant was not to my taste, mainly because the eggplant was “meaty.” I am not a fan of eggplant generally, so if it is fried it must be thin, to my taste. These were odd shapes and sizes of the vegetable, but not thin enough for me. The breading and frying were fine, and they had a nice dusting of Parmesan cheese. The marinara was not enough for this much eggplant. Still, it tasted like a nice smooth red sauce and worked well with the eggplant.

There were a large number of seafood gumbos on that table, to mixed reviews. I thought it was great. Loaded with seafood, it had a dense New Orleans flavor with a good spice level and was certainly the proper consistency, so the negative comments seemed to be picky and harsh. A generous mound of white rice made for a great mouthful of food.

Tom got a fried catfish and oyster plate, which was accompanied by their very good house-cut fries. The fact that The Blue Crab is still doing this post-COVID is simply remarkable, and I am most impressed, They are every bit as great as they always were, and taking this extra step that no one else does, and that they certainly don’t need to do in a place like this just proved it is a labor of love. Good for them! The coleslaw that was on this plate was also very good, as everything is and always has been here.

I was happy to get the stuffed crab platter, which I usually do here. This dish more than any other here reminds me of the old West End. It is so rare to see a stuffed crab back in its shell, and even rarer to see it the normal size, instead of an overly-breaded softball jammed into the crab shell cavity. Whenever I see this I am immediately suspicious that there will be little crabmeat. Here, it is nearly all crabmeat with just spices and a little breadcrumb. It is broiled and not fried, or worse yet, breaded and fried. It renews my faith that the dish will survive.

We have had the Gulf Salad which is replete with seafood, and a great alternative for diners looking to be good. We have had boiled seafood, shrimp and grits, pasta with crawfish, poor boys, whole stuffed flounder, jalapeno hush puppies, cheese biscuits, and so many other things here. Nothing has ever disappointed us.

I’m so glad they chose The Blue Crab, forcing an honest reappraisal of the place. It is as delicious as ever, and I can’t wait to go back. I was briefly diverted by the shiny new place across the lake, but though they are very different, both deliver a great outdoor experience for eating our local bounty where it lives.

The West End will never be back, and if it did return, the food couldn’t possibly compare to what we have now. Best to keep the memories, and enjoy the modern and much more delicious present-day local favorites.