Many thanks for all the recos, I have a list now to pick from on my next ten trips to Harahan.
I opted for oysters at Casamento's over the Mayor of Chicago Chowhound's pick -- next time I'll hit frankie and johnnies, when I have a couple more meals to play around with. Casamento's was fabulous. I sat down across from the oyster shucker in the front room and ordered a half a dozen oysters and a half oyster loaf. The shucker looked me up and down and muttered "they big". Huh? "They big. The oysters. You still want half dozen". Sure, why not? "they really too big. You won't be able to fit em innna mouf. Don't go sending em back". It's OK, I'll eat em. "Even this one" brandishing an oyster the size of a softball. I'll give it a whirl. They were good. The big one's didn't taste as good as the little ones. I watched the shucker harangue the waitress every time an order for oysters on the half shell came in. "Did you tell em?" "Tell em what?" "They BIG!!!"
I asked my muttering shucker if he ahd an ideological objection to big oysters. He said, "sure. They fslkjdh". What? "They too big. They too much trouble to open. Why you wanna have such a big oyster. I don't like anything big, except maybe mvslkjdf" What? "You know. I'm proud of my work. I do my job well. Why people gotta messing with me when thjey can't even be bothered to show up when theysupposed to" I realized I was in over my head.
Luckily at that moment, my oyster loaf appeared. 6 or so little fried oysters on inch thick chunks of toasted white bread. On a little plate. Nothin else. Fabulous. I wish I had left the big raw ones to the chumps in back, these fried oysters were phenomenal.
But I was still hungry. I should have ordered another plate of fried oysters. Instead I tried a cup of gumbo, which was merely ok, and a plate of very good if not terribly crispy french fries.
I had beignet @ morning call, out on causeway behind the big mall, and the beignet were fair -- not as hot and fresh as you'd hope for. But I did get to sprinkle on my own sugar. So I had that going for me which was nice.
The next day, as it turned out, I got no chance to go out for lunch, so all my harahan hunting went for nought (although the clients were impressed with my knowledge of local options, and you may have a couple of new posters). I had a passable muffuletta from a place called the italian pie while chatting with the clients about the pros and cons of OCR scanning software and the amortization of one-time lease costs over the life of a contract.
The gwiv nominated, isabelle maja approved Jacque-Imo's produced fabulous fried chicken washed down with a couple of abita ambers, though austin leslie wasn't in the kitchen. Even so, it was a signifigant notch better than Stroud's of kansas city -- very crispy crust, silken chicken fat under the skin, without a touch of greasiness on the outside, tender juicy meat with a single limp pickle slice on top of each thigh and one more for my lonely drumstick. Shoestring french fries were crispy but not quite hot enough, but the butter beans and rice were very good, if a little skimpily portioned. They also made a very nice soft shell crab almondine (though no match for DC's Full Kee on an on-night) and a superlative corn bread muffin. For dessert, a chocolate mousse cake, which was very good, but not particularly unique, or regionally interesting.
I'd go back there over and over again, there were probably 20 things on the menu that looked amazing: oyster brie soup, fried oysters with spicy garlic sauce, the famous deepfried roast beef poboy, deep fried grits with shrimp and tasso ham, a full array of fascinating sounding fish dishes plus traditional and nouvellified versions of cajun classics. The place was packed -- a 45 minute wait for a table for two at 6:30 on a Monday night and the line go longer the later it got. I managed to squeeze into a stool at the bar within about 15 minutes of walking through the door, but I don't know if I'd be able to take the wait if I hadn't been there by myself.
By the end of the day yesterday, after a three course meal at the Jacque-imo bar, I was plumb tuckered, so rather than pursue my original plan of more beignet and the possibility of a muffuletta to go from the french quarter or even a cannoli at Angelo Brocato's, I went back to elmwood, got pulled over by New Orlean's finest, was released, then threatened with additional pullings over, rode up the elevator to my comfortable king bed and took in the simple pleasures of HBO's Monday night presentation of Devil in the Flesh 2, the electric boogaloo.