During the Lenten season abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory for all us “good Catholics” in Louisiana and elsewhere. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted. So darn the luck, as Paw-Paw Benoit would say. What do we in the Bayou State during Lent? We eat even more seafood! If you are down in New Orleans during Lent (actually anytime of the year) and you are looking for seafood you have just hit the jackpot.
Some of the best seafood I have ever eaten was served up right here in the Crescent City. The problem is choosing at which wonderful eatery to pull up a chair or a stool. Fans consistently rank Acme’s oysters, seafood and atmosphere among the best in New Orleans and the country and they get my vote, too. Acme Oyster House has been around since1910. Louie Armstrong had not even started his first band and the Acme Café was opened on Royal Street in the French Quarter. Acme has long been a staple in the Big Easy restaurant pantry chock a block full of amazing cuisine. Because a horrible fire in 1924 caused the collapse of the three-story Acme Saloon building, the Café was re-opened as Acme Oyster House around the corner at 724 Iberville in the world famous French Quarter, just off of Bourbon Street.
In addition to the French Quarter location, Acme Oyster Houses are open in Covington, Metairie, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and in Sandestin on the Florida panhandle. Acme shucked well over 3.6 million fresh oysters in 2008. That’s almost 10,000 oysters a day and doesn’t even include the fried ones. Its neon sign is a beacon guiding the hungry by the droves. Locals and tourists a-like line up for some of the best New Orleans style seafood around and is a testament to this place in a city renowned for its food. Don’t let the line deter you it moves really fast! I suggest you order an Abita from the bar and hang tight. Your seat at a checkered tablecloth covered table is coming right up.
World famous for their ice cold oysters on the half shell, Acme has out done themselves with their version of char-grilled oysters. Grilled in the shell with garlic, butter and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese this is a treat for even the most oyster opposed of us. Trust me; I have brought many an anti-oyster visitor over from the dark side by offering this sizzling delicacy on a piece of New Orleans French bread. Just a side note, when the oyster is gone, dip your bread in the empty shell to get every drop of the buttery ambrosia left in the bottom! Cést Bon, Cher!
If the oysters won’t tempt you then check out Acme’s impressive menu. The fried catfish platter and the corn and crab soup may be just the thing for a Lenten supper. Of course, there is always hot seafood gumbo to chase away the chill of a cool day. No matter what you order you can’t go wrong. Stand in line at Acme. I promise, they aren’t going anywhere and it is well worth the wait!
By Sharon Denise Talbot