Fat Tuesday it Up At the Oyster Bar Take Out Window
It’s become a Midtown Lunch tradition to spend Fat Tuesday eating a fried shrimp po’boy at the Grand Central Oyster Bar Take-Out window, one of the closest examples of NOLA food achieved in this South-hating city. And this tradition isn’t going to die on our watch, but for this Fat Tuesday I wanted to explore the other Bayou-inspired item from said window, the Cajun Fried Rock Shrimp Sandwich with Creole Sauce. It’s like a po’boy in muffuletta clothing.
The Oyster Bar window and I have seen each other often lately primarily due to their cheap soups, all of which are head and shoulders above any other soups in the area. I tend to shy away from the sandwiches, but for the past few weeks I’ve been eying the shrimp one. If you’re not into the spicy food, I could see why the words cajun and creole would make you a bit scared- but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Cajun fried only means frying in a buttermilk and cornmeal batter, while creole sauce may be synonymous with a creole mayonnaise/coarse mustard mash-up. In other words, it’s nothing to worry about. (And if you do like it spicy, you can always ask for hot sauce!) I figured all of this out in the first sloppy bite, and immediately regretted not eating this sandwich more often.
The soft oval loaf does a good job of soaking up a bit of the sauce, but a horrible job of keeping it together-there were many shrimps down during the housing of this sandwich. Knowing this, they give you a fork as if to say “good luck.” Of course, these are perfect popcorn shrimp, not too greasy, great mild sweet flavor, and each fallen hero had varying degrees of sauce coating. The sauce is what takes this sandwich from being average to above average/extraordinary, otherwise it would be a little bland. The shreds of lettuce add another sponge for the sauce and maybe a little bit of crunch too. I don’t know how close to New Orleans cuisine this sandwich takes you, but it is certainly one of the best uses of shrimp in Midtown (and we need to eat fried food in preparation for tonight’s Hurricanes.)