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by Dan Price

So, I just got back from New Orleans, and boy was I hungry, apparently. If any of you have gotten to know me during our Zoom events, from my musings in our Wednesday and Sunday newsletters or just face-to-face, you know that I like to cook, and I dig good food. And New Orleans is a great place to make your belly a happy camper. Seafood and Cajun cuisine are like chocolate and peanut butter in the sense that they are just meant to go together, and we had a healthy portion of both. Seafood and Cajun food, not Reese's peanut butter cups. There are a couple of dining experiences in particular that I want to mention because they were so on point. The food, the service, the ambiance… everything was top drawer.

First was BOIL Seafood House (3340 Magazine St, New Orleans, 70115). We picked that restaurant for two reasons: 1. They have a balcony, and we wanted a good spot to watch the St. Patrick's Day parade. 2. The food is amazing. We started with Fried Alligator Bites with Remoulade sauce. The gator was some of the most tender I've ever had, and the sauce was sweet and tangy, complimenting the gator fantastically.

We had 5lbs of crawfish (tis the season) and asked for spicy, and boy did the Boil House deliver. The crawfish we hot, flavorful, not too spicy, and cooked perfectly. We also had some amazing charbroiled snow crab in garlic butter, with parmesan over the top with charbroiled shrimp on the side. The crab was spot on! The kitchen manager, Charles, came by to check on us a couple of times and was funny and cordial. Our server, Brie, couldn't have been more hospitable and took care of each other throughout the meal and kept the drinking coming throughout the parade. The parade and I got beaned with a cabbage. I thought they just threw beads, but, alas, I got cabbage blasted. I'm not kidding. These are not jokes. But, besides that, a great time was had by all.

For dinner that night, we were able to get into Drago's on the river (2 Poydras Street, inside the Hilton Riverside, New Orleans 70130). If you've never been to Drago's and like oysters, my friend, this is the place. Known for their signature Drago's Original Charbroiled Oysters, Drago's brings the dining experience to another level. The entire staff was incredible, including the guy on the grill who took a moment to talk with me. Of course, we ordered a dozen Charbroiled Oysters, a Lobster Mac and Cheese and a half dozen oysters on the half shell. Every one of the appetizers was so enjoyable. The garlic butter flowed freely on the Charbroils, and lucky for us, they were served with sliced baguette, perfect for sopping up that butter. Seriously, those oysters were perfect. My son got the Lobster Marco, A Maine lobster stuffed with fresh sautéed shrimp and mushrooms in a delicate cream sauce over angel hair pasta. When asked if he wanted that topped with crab meat, he lit up and gave an immediate, "yes, please." When his entrée arrived, you'd never seen a happier kid, and he took the meal down as he'd never been fed before. It really was a joy to watch. My wife got the Boudin Stuffed Shrimp, Jumbo Gulf shrimp baked with a spicy Cajun sausage, served with corn maque choux, and really enjoyed, especially the corn maque choux, which looked like a corn chowder and was really very tasty. I did a surf and turf because it had been too long since I had a little red meat, so I went with the Drago's Steak and Lobster, Maine lobster claws and tail with petite filet atop mashed potatoes and gravy, served with broccoli and drawn butter. And good golly Joe Friday was it good. The 4 oz filet was cooked to a perfect medium-rare, and the lobster was gorgeous, especially the claws… so succulent, tender, and appetizing.

It was a great weekend, and we thoroughly enjoyed everything we did along the way, but both of these restaurants were impeccable from top to bottom. Two thumbs up.

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