Of all the classic New Orleans dishes with century-old histories, shrimp remoulade has been least diminished by time. It remains as popular as it ever was. Perhaps more so.
Remoulade came from France as a blend of nearly-pureed savory vegetables, grainy mustard, and pungent radishes. (“Remola” was a regional French dialect word for a sharply-flavored black radish which hasn’t been used to make remoulade for ages.)
Almost immediately, the Creole and French versions began to diverge. The former evolved into a deep red-orange concoction, the color coming from tomato, paprika, or both. In France, it became a mayonnaise variant, still with a sharp mustard component. Because of the continuing French influence on our food, the white kind kept being imported here. So it is that we have two rather different kinds of remoulade sauce to this day.
Both kinds of remoulade sauce collude with our matchless local shrimp to make one of the best imaginable appetizers. Here are my twelve favorites. You will see my own preference for the red remoulade, but please adjust to your tastes.
1. Arnaud’s. French Quarter: 813 Bienville. 504-523-5433. The definitive remoulade sauce in the red style, with a distinctly sharp flavor from but the mustard and the paprika.
2. Galatoire’s. French Quarter: 209 Bourbon. 504-525-2021. Probably the closest recipe to the ancient French remoulade, the sauce contains lots of crunchy little morsels of vegetables,
3. Upperline. Uptown: 1413 Upperline. 504-891-9822. They have both red and white remoulade sauces here. But the signature is the red remoulade on shrimp resting on fried green tomatoes, a now-common dish created by the Upperline’s late, great chef Tom Cowman.
4. Tujague’s. French Quarter: 823 Decatur. 504-525-8676. Like the restaurant itself, the remoulade is an ancient recipe, using more oil than most
5. Brigtsen’s. Riverbend: 723 Dante. 504-861-7610. The reddish-brown style, influenced by Commander’s, where Frank Brigtsen began his career. His brilliant insight: shrimp, remoulade, and avocados are a brilliant troika of flavors.
6. Commander’s Palace. Garden District: 1403 Washington Ave. 504-899-8221. Old-style in flavor even as the chefs create new ways of presenting it.
7. Antoine’s. French Quarter: 713 St Louis. 504-581-4422. The spiciest remoulade around, in the red style with a nice hit of cayenne.
8. Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse. French Quarter: 716 Iberville. 504-522-2467. Although the shrimp remoulade is very good, what really hits the spot is the salad they make of tomatoes and onions topped with both remoulade sauce and blue cheese.
9. Gallagher’s Grill. Covington: 509 S Tyler. 985-892-9992. I haven’t said much about the shrimp criterion yet. The shrimp here are exceptionally big and beautiful. White remoulade sauce finishes the masterwork.
10. Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Metairie: 3633 Veterans Blvd. 504-888-3600. The definitive white remoulade sauce. It shows up not only on shrimp but in the magnificent crab-tini. Also good as a salad dressing.
10. Ruth’s Chris Steak House. CBD: 228 Poydras (Harrah’s Hotel). 504-587-7099.
11. Peppermill. Metairie: 3524 Severn Ave. 504-455-2266. White remoulade, heavy on the mustard, generously served.
12. Borgne. CBD: 601 Loyola Ave (Hyatt Regency Hotel). 504-613-3860. Chef and partner Bruian Landry was for a number of years the executive chef at Galatoire’s. So he knows most of what needs to be known about shrimp remoulade. The one he serves at Borgne is no mere copy, though. It’s a little richer and thicker, with a rustic quality that turns up in a lot of the menu here.