A dear friend of ours is Croatian, and we know a lot of the same people in the Croatian restaurant community. She called to tell me about the Croatian Festival that happens each year in Belle Chasse, where there is sort of a community center. I asked her to have her cousin call in to the show, and he got me so excited Tom and I went down there the following day.
Tom is a big fan of Croatian food, especially cevapcici, a tasty mixed-meat kebab that is grilled to crusty. Before Drago’s had to renovate to keep up with demand for their now-signature chargrilled oysters, they had a whole Croatian menu. It was here that Tom discovered the dish. It is surprising how often he has spoken of it in the years since. I wanted to try it at the festival.
We arrived in time to see my friend do a little Croatian dancing. The crowds were dense, and it took a while to meander through them. When I offered cash for some oysters and was told to go get tickets, I lost interest quickly. Having Tom wade through such crowds is ridiculous. We left after Tom had a half-dozen fried oysters and a half dozen chargrilled oysters. They were not as good as Drago’s but very good. Still not good enough for crowds like this.
We left after ten minutes, Hungry. I stopped at LA 23 BBQ with two objectives: Get the lunch we didn’t at the festival, and, try LA 23 BBQ, a place I’ve been looking to try for literally, years. Naturally, we arrived five minutes after closing, which was odd since it was 4 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon.
We went into town for just a minute but just kept going toward home. I thought briefly about Lakeview, and the new Pizza Domenica, until I remembered Station 6, a place I often pass and never go. And when I pass it I always wish I was going there instead of wherever it is I am going.
Station 6 is a quiet gem just inside Metairie. I would say its outlier location in the old Two Tony’s in Bucktown keeps it from being busier than it should be, but it is in fact busier than it should be, not because it isn’t delicious, but because it is out of sight unless you are in Bucktown. Its level of busy is a testament to its excellence.
When veteran chef couple Drew and Allison Vega returned home from the Caribbean, they snapped up the cute little shack that was Two Tony’s in front of the pumping station at the 17th St. canal. It is hard to imagine that little place if one is sitting at Station 6 now. It is handsome and chic, and triple the seating capacity, with two outdoor spaces as well as a small but still spacious-feeling interior dining room.
We arrived not long after they opened, to a parking lot bursting over with cars. I asked about the wait, and was shocked to hear there was none. We were seated quickly at a 2-top on the covered porch.
Tom ordered the oysters plate we discovered from a previous visit. This might be the best deal in town. It is simply an add-on at the end of the menu, but it comes as a small plate of crispy fried oysters surrounding a delicious tartar sauce. These oysters are enormous, light, greaseless, golden brown, and utterly perfect in every way. Especially the price. $11 for this? I couldn’t believe it.
This time my appetizer was the crawfish and spinach dip, which I considered the last time we were here. Too many choices eliminated my need to try this then. I got it on this visit, and liked it just okay. Station 6 has a lot of little colorful ramekins in the perfect proportion for a single serving. They serve dips and gumbo in these ramekins, and other sides like a surprising menu item here since Day 1: Spinach Madeline.
Todays crawfish and spinach dip was served with housemade flour tortilla chips which I liked a lot. The were crispy and salty and everything you want a dipper to be. The dip was replete with crawfish, but I just wasn’t crazy about the base dip in either consistency or flavor. It was totally fine, worth eating, but maybe not to get again.
Tom’s entree was pompano, something he gets anywhere he sees it. He wasn’t really hungry from his dozen oysters appetizer at the Croatian festival, followed by another half-dozen fried monster oysters here, so he didn’t do justice to this beautiful dish of pan-seared pompano with curry butter, pistachios, and cilantro. I sampled it because I felt bad watching a meticulously-prepared premium fish dish be ignored. It was light, seared beautifully, and the curry butter was a creative and surprising touch.
My entree dilemma pitted salmon tacos against a fried chicken sandwich. I should have done the wise thing, because I’ll bet the salmon tacos are fantastic here. I’ll do it another time. The idea of a buffalo fried chicken sandwich seemed the better choice as soon as I was assured it was not pounded dark meat. A bleu cheese sauce was the condiment, along with a spicy glaze and housemade pickles. The combination of flavors sounded very appealing, but it was not as good as I expected. The chicken breast was crunchy and spicy and white meat (which is essential for all chicken sandwiches - dark meat may be hip but it’s not as good), and every other component of this was individually first class. The bun seemed a little lame and the sandwich was just a bit disappointing as a whole. Tacos next time.
Station 6 is located on the wrong side of the17th St. Canal, though I am grateful for that. It has the style, sophistication both on and off the plate of a first-class New Orleans seafood restaurant, and the casual Metairie vibe I much prefer. Also parking!
All of which explains how this little outlier on the way to nothing remains consistently packed ever minute it is open.
And deservedly so.