POSTED ON APRIL 3, 2013:
Seafood restaurant a worthy revival
Like many, I was sad to see the Brookside S&J Oyster Co. go in 2004, but was very excited to learn of it re-opening in the Blue Dome District. The classic look of the former restaurant is replicated now in close precision at 308 E. 1st St. The black-and-white floor and wall tiles were the first thing to grab the attention of my friend and me as we entered. Entering, the bar is visible as it extends and parallels the dining area. It was hopping this Saturday evening. A ceiling-to-floor glass window looks out onto the street.
We selected a table that was a little more secluded from the open floor seating: a little cubby area with a chair rail section of black tiles, glass tiles and a large mirror on one side. Once seated, we observed our surroundings. The dining rooms are spacious and open; most all is in black and white except for an oversized yellow and green fish floating from the ceiling.
Our server, Ben, took good care of us, not rushing us, but allowing a relaxing, leisurely dinner. According to Ben, the menu is almost identical to the menu from the former E. 33rd Street and S. Peoria Avenue location. Even the vendors, mainly out of Louisiana, remain as purveyors of their ingredients, such as the fish and sausage.
We began with drinks -- I had the Pat O' Brien's Hurricane ($7.75) and my dining companion had Marshall Revival Red ($5). The Hurricane was crafted with Bacardi Silver Rum, Myer's Dark Rum, Pat O' Brien's Hurricane Mix, orange juice and pineapple juice and served with a Bacardi 151 floater. The Hurricane was sweet and refreshing, and the Revival Red is a medium body ale -- refreshing and savory.
Appetizers, Soups, Salads and Entrees
An ample selection of appetizers made it most difficult from which to choose. Crab cakes, fried clams, fried crawfish, fried calamari, oysters on the half shell, Oysters Rockefeller, and more. We agreed on the Pot O' Mussels ($9.95). Ben arrived with the mussels, poured them from its stainless steel container into a bowl which was then placed on our table. The mussels were in a steamy buttery broth, made with a bit of white wine, garlic and parsley. Toasted and buttered French bread was served with the mussels. These little morsels were soft, buttery and rich. Ben says they arrive from off the coast of Alabama. The buttered bread was delicious soaked with the broth.
For our dinner, we were slow to make our selections. Fin fish, fried selections and "specialties" are the three categories. Fin fish include redfish, catfish, tuna and salmon -- either broiled or blackened. Fried selections include items such as fried oysters, clams, shrimp, calamari and crawfish tails. Specialties include Mr. Carl's Red Beans & Rice, etouffee, coconut shrimp, cajun chicken, fish & chips and more. I went with the redfish ($16.95) and a cup of New Orleans gumbo ($4.95) and my friend chose the red beans and rice ($9.95). The menu says the redfish is a Louisiana favorite. It definitely became a favorite of mine. The fish was snowy white, with a mild sweet flavor. It was enjoyably charred on the top. Two sides came with this meal; I chose cajun green beans and red potatoes. The green beans were prepared with sausage pieces and a buttery broth. The red potatoes were baked and coated with butter; a little sprinkle of salt was needed for the potatoes. Both were richly flavored. The cup of gumbo was good, but nothing too special. It was a very thick version with rice, tiny shrimp, celery and sausage -- most all was overcooked with not too much taste. It seemed overpriced for just a cup at $4.95 -- almost half the price of some of the entrees.
My friend's red beans and rice was very flavorful. White rice was topped with spicy red kidney beans, and that was topped with Andouille sausage. The red beans with sauce was in a traditional sauce base of sautéed onions, green peppers and celery. It was delightful. The grilled sausage was lean and spicy, and complemented the meal perfectly.
For dessert, we shared the bread pudding ($4.95). This was a delightful version of this rich dessert. This pudding was very moist, rich and gooey. It appears to be made with French bread; it was light in color and with few, if any, spices. Raisin dotted the dessert and small pieces of pineapple preserved the moist taste. A rich buttery topping only added to the yumminess.
Overall, we were pleased with the dinner. It was all good -- service, food, and a fun and upbeat atmosphere.
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