by Ian McNulty
There should new options soon on the New Orleans lakefront to have a meal, get some drinks and even toast the sunset with a few raw oysters as two new waterfront restaurants take shape practically next door to each other.
One is Blue Crab Restaurant & Oyster Bar, which has been in the works since 2011 along the canal connecting West End marinas to Lake Pontchartrain. Blue Crab manager Kent Burgess says it should open in about a month.
Less had been known about the second structure rising just down the canal, but chef and manager David DeFelice reports that this will be Brisbi’s Lakefront Restaurant & Bar. It’s also on track to open in about a month.
“It will be a casual restaurant with higher points of food and service,” says DeFelice. “It’s not going to be the same old New Orleans fried and boiled seafood. We’ll have five types of fish in the kitchen everyday and take a more contemporary approach.”
Brisbi’s has been participating in neighborhood festivals (including the upcoming Taste at the Lake), where DeFelice has been test-driving a few dishes. Fried oysters with hollandaise over andouille, seared scallops over blue cheese grits and a lobster roll are some examples that are likely to appear on the menu.
DeFelice is a member of the family that runs Pascal’s Manale Restaurant, and he says the oyster bar at Brisbi’s will be modeled after the stand-up bar at that Uptown institution.
“But here the customer at the oyster bar will be facing a window, so you can look over the shucker’s shoulder and right down the main channel where the boats come up,” he says.
The restaurant is elevated, like Blue Crab, and will have a covered deck extending from its main dining room and bar. Down below, boaters will be able to tie up at docks, which lead to a ground level deck where Brisbi’s will host live music. Seasonal seafood boils and other events are also part of the program, DeFelice says.
Planning, permitting and construction for both Blue Crab and Brisbi’s have been underway for about two years, and along the way Blue Crab underwent a major change. The restaurant was originally to be called Duke’s on the Basin after chef Duke LoCicero of Café Giovanni, though he is no longer involved with the project. Last year, its developers changed the name and brought in Burgess, whose family has operated the now-closed Sid-Mar’s Restaurant for nearly 40 years in Bucktown.
The two soon-to-open restaurants join Landry’s Seafood, a Houston-based regional chain with a location on the lakefront here. Together, they augur a revival of sorts for a part of the city that was once a magnet for family dining along the lake.
“I grew up coming to the West End with my parents and when I was older my buddies and I would go to Jaeger’s,” says DeFelice, name-checking a one-time West End seafood joint since relocated inland to Clearview Parkway. “We’re glad that Blue Crab will be here too, because the more traffic the better. We’re just excited to be bringing something back to the lakefront again."
Brisbi's Lakefront Restaurant & Bar
7400 Lakeshore Dr., phone n.a.
Blue Crab Restaurant & Oyster Bar
7900 Lakeshore Dr., phone n.a.