Shrimp and grits at Drago's
Until a meal at Drago's last week, I never had any reason to feud with grits. Grits are a staple of southern cooking, an exclamation point on meals from Charleston to Texas. When done correctly, the grits take on an amorphous shape, able to float between liquid and solid form, soaking up juices or just a receptacle for an oozing pat of butter. Great grits, to paraphrase Vinny Gambini are "magic grits."
The grits at Drago's were a disaster. With the texture of wet sand, they mounded above the shrimp in Drago's take on the southern dish sweeping the nation faster than kudzu. We were eating with my mom, but luckily she put her motherly instincts aside and didn't force me to finish my plate. Normally, you could throw away the starch component of a dish. When grits are one of the two main components of a dish and they arrive dry and unappetizing, someone in the kitchen has never had a proper bowl of girts. The shrimp surrounding the gritsaster benefited from being close to tasso, but otherwise the dish lacked any punch.
Below the crust of garlic butter and parmesan, there lies an oyster which depending on the time of year will either be flavorful or not. At this time of year, the latter is more likely.* Without the salinity of a plump oyster, the topping is better placed on bread than a milky oyster. The way in which the oysters are opened is perhaps a bit too rough resulting in shell fragments worthy of awarding the oyster a Purple Heart.
A plank of drum arrived bland despite being covered in all manners of things. Lindsay described the crabmeat and shrimp dressing which sat next to it as "interesting." This was an improvement upon a plate of oysters en brochette served with a sweetened Jack Daniels sauce that managed to disprove the twin theories of southern cooking that bacon and bourbon make everything taste better. There were salads of basic salad bar quantity. These were included in the price of the entrees, which depending on your satisfaction with your meal are either very high or just high. Everybody has an off night or maybe it still holds true that eating oysters in summer is a bad idea.
I'll end on another good note. The beer is very cold and the service couldn't be nicer.
Drago's: Is It Worth It? Nope.
Fat City and Downtown Locations
*Tangent: The idea that anyone would host an Oyster Festival in New Orleans in June is a goddamn disgrace. Oysters couldn't be less appetizing than right now through the end of a summer. There is a reason why Casamento's is closed. Please move this festival to a cold weather month.