Monday, January 2, 2012

Call Me a Woman on a Mission

My mission? To eat the barbecue shrimp at Deanie’s that I had seen on Man v Food on the Travel Channel.

There are two Deanie’s locations in the New Orleans metro area. One in Metaire (also called Bucktown) and another in the fringe of the French Quarter. (Neither should be confused with Deanie’s Café located in the Warehouse District and not highly praised by diners.)

The Quarter location is housed in a large space that is made more intimate by the creative use of dividers and plants. In this city madly in love with their Saints, Deanie’s is the home to the live broadcasts of “The Point After” Show on WWL Radio hosted by former Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert.

But Deanie’s doesn’t just celebrate football. The restaurant hosted a benefit for the America’s Wetland Foundation which raised more than $10,000.00 for the Foundation’s efforts to preserve coastal Louisiana and its delicate wetlands. As a part of the benefit, Deanie’s Seafood and the Chifici Family “commissioned a custom-designed glass art installation highlighting the bounty of Louisiana’s waters that is a centerpiece of the main dining room. The intricate, lifelike art display was designed by Bywater artist James Vella and dedicated to Louisiana wetlands champion, The America’s Wetland Foundation… The wildlife display features two tall herons standing on a bank surrounded by marsh grass. In the water are small vignettes: A large catfish nestled close to the bank, a school of redfish in the shallows looking for blue crabs, and in a deeper section of dark green grass, a school of speckled trout feeding on shrimp. Closer to the sandy bottom are sheephead, flounder and baitfish…The Deanie’s art installation is the largest collective sculpture that Vella—who describes himself as a ‘diehard fisherman who never gets to fish’—has created in his career thus far” (

As you enter, you walk past the bar area. Notice that it is almost empty, but not when we left, after a herd of “Ragin’ Cajuns” (University of Louisiana--Lafayette) fans arrived. “Prior to the 1960s, the team nickname was the ‘Bulldogs’. In 1963 then football coach Russ Faulkinberry changed the nickname of the football team to ‘Ragin' Cajuns’” ( They were in town for an appearance against the San Diego State Aztecs in the Louisiana Bowl.

As soon as we were seated, our server brought a dish of red skin potatoes that had been boiled with a seafood boil mix. With the potatoes came bread and butter. Fortunately, both of us showed some measure of heretofore unknown prudence and only sampled the potatoes.

Knowing what I planned to order, I paid scant attention to the rest of the menu. As we were eating, I did see one server struggling under the weight of the Giant Seafood Platter--a mountain of fresh shrimp, catfish, soft shell crabs and crawfish dressing balls with fries and cole slaw. While this is intended to feed four, I swear that it could satisfy even the mammoth appetites of the Saints defensive line.

I was happy to see that the barbecued shrimp came as an entrée or appetizer portion. Good, I’ll order the appetizer and then round out my dinner with another appetizer. But what shall it be? Why not go the all shrimp route and add a half pound order of boiled shrimp.

“It is said that the recipe for New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp was born many, many years ago at Pascal's Manale Restaurant—a nearly 100-year-old eatery located on Napoleon Avenue in New Orleans. How the name came to be though, well, nobody really seems to know, because New Orleans Style BBQ shrimp are not smoked or cooked on a grill, and there is never anything remotely resembling a barbecue sauce that ever touches them” (

Every restaurant that serves BBQ shrimp puts its own spin on the basic recipe. One thing is given—the shrimp are served head and tail on and are swimming in a pool of oil or butter or a combination of both. Oh. Another given. These babies are messy to eat. There is no etiquette here. You just dive in and eat.

My dish held five jumbo shrimp which were quite good, but I thought that the oil/butter sauce was too “one note.” The original recipe is said to contain Worcester-shire Sauce, black pepper, rosemary, lemon, Tabasco, and garlic. I really didn’t notice any of these. All I tasted was what seemed to be seafood boil mix.

The boiled shrimp continued with the same flavors. They were large and impeccably cooked and were served with a very good horseradish cocktail sauce.

Chuck chose the Barbecue Shrimp Pasta described on the menu as “for those who do not want to get messy, we peel the shrimp for you and toss it with linguine in our barbecue shrimp sauce.” The very rich sauce also contained cream and cheese and the portion was almost too much for one person to eat. Chuck kept asking me if I wanted another taste. “Are you kidding me? Don’t you see how much food I have here?”

So, I came, I ate, and I see no need to return. As we were concluding our 3.5 Addie meal, Kitty Humbug looked around and asked: “Anyone have a wet nap? My paws are all messy!”

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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