Monday, May 21, 2012

The Pots Are Boiling

Nearly every local has faced this conundrum: A large group of friends come in town and are staying in the Quarter. They all want to go out for heaping platters of boiled seafood, but the options are limited to non-existent in the downtown area. What do you do?

A few weeks ago Rene wrote about the Crab Trap II, an excellent suggestion for your seafood seeking out of town guests. But Frenier is a 30 mile drive away, which would make for an expensive cab ride. However, if instead of heading west on I-10, you decide to drive east to the Westbank, just a 10 minute ride away is a Harvey hideaway where the pots are always at a rolling boil.

Perino's Boiling Pot, located below the elevated Westbank Expressway a few blocks past the Manhattan exit, is a no frills seafood joint where locals feel at home and tourists can act like locals. The family behind Perino's operates both a restaurant and seafood market, a business model which generates a lot of turnover for inventory and ensures freshness for its customers. Customers who are not carrying out bags of boiled shrimp and crawfish are seated at long formica tables covered plastic trays full of the same.

Before you get elbows deep in crawfish fat, crab claws, and shrimp heads, Perino's offers a short list of starters that are worth sacrificing precious stomach real estate for. The stuffed artichoke is an almost forgotten art that is thankfully still practiced at Perino's with expert precision.  Here, the most delcious flower on earth is in full blossom with every crevice overflowing with lemon and herb stuffing. Oysters are on the half shell are priced cheap and served ice cold. Spicy crawfish boudin is sold by the link and oozes from its casing.

Then come the platters of boiled seafood ferried to the table by smiling, no-nonsense waitresses and rested atop a metal stand with an empty tray for remnants strategically placed underneath. The crawfish are medium in size and easily peelable, with a restrained level of spice which may be dissappointing to some but appreciated by others who believe that pain is not a necessarily prerequisite to crawfish pleasure. On my most recent visit, the boiled shrimp were terribly overcooked, resulting in withered shells which struggled to pull away from the tough flesh underneath. Corn and potatoes are sold separately, but the bland flavor of both relegate them to obscurity.

While some of the offerings at Perino's may lack the enthusiasm found out your best friend's crawfish boil where the seasoning level increases with every round of beers, this Harvey hangout displays most of the congeniality and affordability of a local favorite that most out of town guests will be happy to experience. And sometimes, that's all that you're looking for.

3754 Westbank Expressway
(504) 340-5560
Sun-Thur: 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat: 11am-11pm


willifred said...

One of my go to places, crabs in particular.....but they preshuck their oysters and have them stacked on trays in a walkin....won't work for me.

Peter said...


That's some impressive recon re: raw oysters. My dozen a few weeks ago tasted freshly shucked as opposed to dry and tough, but I could have gotten lucky.

Either way, thanks for the tip.