Nouveau New Orleans

Written by Mary Ann Fitzmorris August 18, 2021 10:01 in Dining Diary

Of the countless young hip places offering non-traditional food to the under-forty crowd and outlier diners, Marjie’s Grill has garnered the most buzz and seems to be on the most solid ground. That ground is on Broad St, in the neighborhood near Tulane Avenue. Marjie’s stands out in the neighborhood, as it would in any neighborhood, its electric turquoise color beckoning to passersby. 

All of the aforementioned traits are not my thing, so I have not dined at Marjie’s Grill. We did a pick-up run last year and I liked it well enough. The sweet potatoes were even memorable, seared on the edges with a brown crust of caramelization I found appealing.

The owners of Marjie’s have expanded their footprint here with the opening of Seafood Sally’s on Oak Street in the space that first came to our attention as Squeal, then the Mexican place La Casita, and maybe a few others I can’t remember.

Seafood Sally’s has also generated buzz, probably with the same crowd buzzing about Marjie’s. I passed there a few weeks ago and the place was crawling with people, enough to make me curious.

I just satisfied my curiosity about Seafood Sally’s by picking up some food. I like what they have done to the space. These folks like their color. It seems Caribbean inside and way more spacious than it was with any previous occupant. 

I expected it to take a long time to get the food because of the crowds I saw last time, but it was empty on Sunday. So the fried seafood and other fried things were not as good as they would have been just out of the fryer. That was not my main issue with the food. Sameness is my issue with the food.

We started with fried onion rings, which were charmingly misshapen and caked with a cornmeal batter that was over the top with everything. I liked these well enough, and the thinnish and very perky dipping sauce based on Tabasco mash made for an arresting experience. There was a lot of salt, of spice, of crunch, of acid, which combined together was a good taste but tiring to the palate before long.

This exact same everything could be said of the Pick Two plate we got that was a combination of Des Allemands fried catfish and fried shrimp, which came with a side of coleslaw. 

The fish was a nice-sized filet with a few other smaller ones, and a generous portion of the perfect size of fried shrimp. All of this except the fish had that same misshapen extra-crunchy cornmeal batter with too-intense flavors of everything. The coleslaw was not creamy. Its dressing was very citrusy, featuring lime and cilantro. Interesting take on the classic, but I prefer the classic. It was pretty though, with all the varied colors of coleslaw in abundance.

We did get a few things that weren’t fried, starting with a crab claws appetizer with a light Italian vinaigrette.

And the fish of the day was sheepshead, which was pan sauteed with an odd coating of spices that looked unappealing but tasted fine. This came with cornbread that had a crab boil-like spice but also a nice cakey texture. A very unexpected side for this fish was a salad comprised of diced cantaloupe , mint, purple onions, cilantro and pepperoncini in a tangy vinaigrette. This unusual combination of flavors was my favorite of all of these menu items. Very refreshing. Tangy and sweet at the same time, this was very good.

What wasn’t so good but wanted to be was the potato salad, a pile of red potato pieces mixed with mashed green things like onions and herbs. There was a lot of this green mash clinging to all of the potato pieces in a disproportionate amount. This wasn’t bad, but neither was it good.

We didn’t get any chargrilled oysters, which come the “usual” way, though “usual” isn’t likely to be “usual” here. And there are three types of boiled seafood, including crabs. The boiled seafood can be jazzed up with the addition of Sally’s secret chili butter, a signature at Marjie’s too.

I finished this meal with a singular thought about all of these young hip places putting a new spin on the food we have known and loved here for so many years: if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

(Funny note...In the final paragraph I typoed the word food exactly backwards, calling in doof. That’s maybe kind of a good appropriate word for all of this. I think I’ll start using it.)