Grand Isle Restaurant, Home of "Fresh Seafood & Cold Beer"
Grand Isle, Louisiana, is a small fishing town located about 100 miles from New Orleans on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. Considered to be the fishing capital of the state, it has some of the best fishing in all Louisiana with plenty of fish camps and chartered fishing trips departing every day.
Grand Isle, the New Orleans restaurant by the same name, is inspired by its namesake fishing village. Not only is it designed to give the feel of dining in a fancier version of a Grand Isle fish camp, but it’s also devoted to bringing fish and seafood to you at the table, just as fresh as if you caught it yourself from the Gulf. And plenty of it comes directly from Grand Isle, LA, itself, where the owners of the restaurant have spent a great deal of time.
Sous Chef Mark Quiroz, better known as Estrada, talked about Grand Isle (the restaurant’s) seafood program. “It’s as fresh as we can get it, and always local. Even if it means running out of seafood on any given day, we only order what we can serve in a day to keep it that fresh.”
Estrada, whose favorite times of year are crawfish season and football season, bases his seasons primarily on what seafood is available at any given time (or, perhaps, who’s playing the Saints). Then he and Head Chef Ryan Haigler adjust the menu accordingly. This means that the menu changes about three times a year, and always includes crawfish when they’re in season and shrimp boils all year round. The menu in its current incarnation was updated approximately a month ago, and features such tasty dishes as Smoked Fried Oysters with roasted garlic aioli, She Crab Soup, and a hand-rolled Crab & Brie Hand Pie with smoked paprika remoulade. Entrees include Grilled Swordfish, Shrimp and Grits, and a Fisherman’s Stew—a pot-load of mixed seafood soup, with all your seafood favorites served with veggies and brown rice.
And even if you aren’t a fan of the crustaceans and fin-bearing creatures for dinner, Grand Isle also offers a great selection of land-based options, including St. Louis Cut Ribs, a Chappapeela Farms Pork Chop, and a whole slew of sandwiches. Our favorite appetizer of the non-swimming variety was the Burnt Black Pepper & Sambuca Sausage. And if you manage to save room for dessert, the pecan pie is the best on the list.
No matter what you crave, the chefs and staff aim to bring it to you “fresh and local”, and with as much quality, flavor and “love” as possible. Estrada, who formerly worked at Emeril’s, said, “We put our hearts and soul into this city and the food we make here. We’re not from here…we came to New Orleans just to do this.” And they do it well. Estrada is often up before the sun for all those early-morning seafood deliveries, a sacrifice he’s very willing to make. “We live to feed people”, he added. “It takes a lot of time, a lot of love, and very little sleep. But it’s worth it when people love our food.”
Give it a try, and you’ll surely love it too.
Grand Isle Restaurant, 575 Convention Center Blvd., 504-520-8530, grandislerestaurant.com.