ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
The neighborhood cafes so much liked in New Orleans proper are not in common in the neighborhoods of Metairie. Part of this is because of the many national chain restaurants in all the local suburbs. The independent eateries that do manage to break through are often fun and good to find. Bistro Orleans is one such. In a strip mall space that was home for a number of good to superb cafes over the years, Bistro Orleans has that blend of seafood, sandwiches and Italian food which, with a few daily specials, add up to the neighborhood flavor.
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
As the name “bistro” suggests, there is more to the kitchen here than the basics. They buy better ingredients than one might expect to find, and sell them at prices a bit higher than other neighborhood cafes offer. Although the seafood in particular is a good bet, there is room for some polish.
The kitchen’s specialties are concentrated in a few clusters of similar dishes. They make an excellent red sauce, giving birth to a dozen or so good pasta dishes with a wide range of proteins. The seafood platters could be cooked with a bit more boldness, but they already achieve some distinction. The catfish is wild-caught from Des Allemands–a claim very few restaurants can make. A full-fledged oyster bar greets you on the way in, promising the bivalves on the half-shell as well as a host of grilled and bakes oyster dishes. Daily specials are attractive for both their goodness and their value.
In 2012, Bistro Orleans began its life in a well-worn space hidden behind East Jefferson Hospital off the main traffic streams. In 2014 it moved to a much more agreeable spot on West Esplanade, just off Causeway Boulevard. That address resonates with memories of past restaurants there, notably the extinct five-star French restaurant Crozier’s. For the last five or six years it was Chad’s Bistro, whose fried seafood boats brought a good bit of attention.
Anyone who ever dined at the old Crozier’s will recognize the layout and decor, with a big main dining room and a smaller one right behind it. Sets of walls with a cross-shaped footprint make the big room’s tables more intimate. The oyster bar is the first thing you see. Behind it is the liquor bar, which almost seems to be in a different suite. A few nights a week there is live music.
FULL ONLINE MENU
Crab cake, artichoke sauce
Calamari, fried, marinara sauce
Hearts of artichoke, fried, marinara sauce
Grilled stuffed mushrooms
Chicken and andouille gumbo
Cream of oyster and artichoke soup
Red beans and rice, sausage or pork chop
Veal, eggplant or chicken parmesan
Crawfish Madeline (crawfish, artichokes, eggplant medallions, pasta, cream sauce
Spaghetti and meatballs or Italian sausage
Breaded veal cutlet, fettuccine Alfredo
Boats of fried oysters, shrimp, or catfish
Fried catfish, oyster, shrimp or combo platters
Fried shrimp, crawfish, catfish or oyster poor boy
Roast beef poor boy
Meatball poor boy
Italian sausage marinara poor boy
FOR BEST RESULTS
They run many good daily specials here, notably involving oysters and catfish.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
Consistency is less than perfect. Across the menu. The best dishes are very good indeed, but others (seafood gumbo being the most notorious) could use new recipes. The cocktail bar is in need of enhancement of its range of skills. If the place has a web site, it has hidden it very well.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment +1
- Value +2
- Attitude +2
- Wine & Bar
- Local Color +1
- Live music some nights
- Outdoor tables, drinks only
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open all afternoon
- Oyster bar (Thursdays)
- Unusually large servings
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
- No reservations