Location: 300 Bourbon St, French Quarter
I'm almost ashamed to mention the song that became our anthem for this epic road trip, but it'll come into play later. For now, I've gotta say goodbye to New Orleans, our home for the past couple of nights. It's been an amazing time; perfect weather (note to self: don't visit New Orleans in the summer), insane parties (on Monday and Tuesday nights, even) thanks to CTIA, and of course the FOOD. Before we left for good though, you know we had to have one last meal, and for our last meal, we chose Desire Oyster Bar.
I gotta say, when I checked out the menu before we walked in, I was a little skeptical. The prices were a tad more expensive than those we saw at Acme, and most of the food options were identical. Even more ironic, Desire is located just across the street from Acme Oyster House. I guess we weren't all that creative in our search for our last great New Orleans meal. Still, for all the history and press that Acme Oyster gets, Desire has quite a bit of fame to call its own. After all, it's been in the French Quarter way before the Royal Sonesta, which now owns the building that houses Desire, moved into town.
Yien and I came in to grab some lunch before we began our lengthy drive back to Chicago, and of course, we had to start with a dozen raw oysters. A wise person told me that Desire and Acme get their oysters from the same supplier, so I came in with high expectations.
Maybe it's batch-dependent, but I thought the oysters here weren't as fresh as the ones at Acme. They also didn't seem as large, but maybe I got used to the size of Gulf oysters after that incredible meal at Acme. Regardless, the oysters here were still top-notch, and free of the little shell bits that ruin the oyster-eating experience for me (and were a frequent annoyance over at Acme). Be warned - Desire's cocktail sauce is spicy, made with more horseradish than I've ever had...and they're served with even more horseradish on the side! Definitely not getting Vibrio from this place.
Moving on to the main course, I ordered up some BBQ Shrimp, and 15 minutes later was presented with this plate. Not exactly what I was imagining when I read the words "BBQ Shrimp," but let's see how it tastes.
You know what? I'm glad Desire opened my mind to new ways of BBQing shrimp, because this was one of my favorite dishes of our entire stay at New Orleans. First of all, the jumbo shrimp were cooked magnificently, with each plump & juicy shrimp bursting with flavor and texture. But that would mean nothing if it weren't for the sauce these babies were bathed in. I need to know what they use to make it because it was an amazing combination of spicy, salty, and tangy, all held together with this full-bodied flavor that I can't really describe as anything other than the essence of BBQ. To finish things off, the rice was very nicely cooked, and the garlic bread was so incredibly buttery, garlicky, and crunchy that it was the perfect vehicle with which to scoop up all of the remaining sauce from the plate.
Yien, claiming "Etouffee withdrawal," made Desire's Crawfish Etouffee his last meal in NoLa. Made with boiled crawfish tails in a cajun gravy and served over rice, the etouffee definitely evoked memories of our meal at Acme. Only thing was, both Yien and I felt like the gravy here at Desire was just a little less tasty than the one at Acme. My guess? It was lacking the flavors of the ocean provided by the other seafood present in Acme's Seafood Etouffee. Still, I'm nitpicking here, and you can't go wrong ordering this up at Desire (I snuck in a few extra bites while Yien was off in the bathroom).
For making me feel "Glad I Came," and redefining the phrase "BBQ Shrimp" for me, Desire Oyster Bar earns 4.5 Cherries.