Some people visit their relatives. Some visit a childhood friend or someone who owes them money. Other folks take a stroll in the quarter while some take a nap. Everybody has their own ritual as far as their first activity in New Orleans. Mine? Mr B’s BBQ Shrimp. Nothing says welcome to foodie heaven New Orleans more than putting on a bib in this semi fancy local institution for these beautiful legendary crustaceans. I said no to that bib once, and paid the price (The dreaded wife look). Never again!
Mr B’s Bistro is one of the jewels in the French Quarters. Although it opened in 1979, in a town filled with institutions such as Commanders Palace, Galatoires, this is one of the new kid on the block. Hurricane Katrina did enough damage to shut it down for 2 years until it was rebuilt to look exactly the same as before. The alumni list that includes Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse, the owner (a Brennan family member), its history and look and feel make it seem more ancient than it is.
You take out the legendary prawns from the equation and the signature dish becomes the rich Gumbo Ya Ya. A dark buttery roux with chunks of chicken and Andouille sausages. “Pretty pretty pretty good”. But this is merely the warm-up act to the main event.
The recipe hasn’t changed since its inception. A buttery, peppery dark roux you want to dip anything into. Their terrific bread, shrimp, fingers, room keys (make sure you have a spare), anything. Unpeeling the huge plump gulf shrimp requires some major finger work, which is why its so crucial to have a bib on. Its almost strange to wear a bib in a place like this, but things can get messy. This is as mouthwatering as a dish can get.
But not everything we’ve had here was nearly as satisfying. A somewhat bland blackened redfish, and a less than stellar pasta jambalaya we had in the prior visit, begs the question. What else is good here. Get the prawns!
And finish the deal with the classic bread pudding with Irish whisky. In NYC, the closest I got to the classic NOLA bread pudding is in an Israeli restaurant called Balaboosta. I don’t know why its so hard to get a decent Bread Pudding in NYC. Everyone is trying to be too cute. Another winner was the Chocolate molten cup cake with raspberry sauce.