Get ready to peel n’ eat – there is a new seafood spot in town. Seafood Sally’s swung its doors open this spring on Oak Street, welcoming a post-pandemic crush of New Orleanians looking to get their hands dirty with some choice jumbo blues supercharged with a chili-butter slather. While the menu is straightforward – think boiled crabs, hush puppies and fried seafood baskets – the attention to sourcing and execution sets this place apart.
Seafood Sally’s is the latest effort from Caitlin Carney and Marcus Jacobs, who carved out a niche with Margie’s Grill, a casual place on Broad Street that blossomed into an insider’s darling – a place other chefs want to bring their friends and families on their days off. And while there is no culinary overlap between the two restaurants, both are guided by a prevailing ethos. “I’d say our major guiding points as a business are our integrity of product and service, and our ongoing effort to create a welcoming and supportive workspace environment,” said co-owner Jacobs. He and Carney represent the next generation of restauranteurs forging a path forward in a complex and shifting hospitality landscape.
Seafood Sally’s is housed in a rambling structure surrounded with a fringe of front porch and alfresco seating where guests can observe passers-by on Oak Street. The overall vibe strikes a laid-back and unpretentious tone. Prior to the pandemic, the pair had actually made plans to open a bar, but the shutdown scuttled that project and compelled them to reexamine their priorities. “We wanted to create something that was more welcoming to a broader array of people than a late-night hipster bar,” Jacobs said. Seafood Sally’s is the result.
Chef Joshua Blue (formerly of Shaya and Saba) heads up the kitchen, where he turns out an array of boiled, fried, and grilled local bounty sourced from a network of purveyors that Jacobs has cultivated over the years. “The shrimp for our shrimp cocktail come from Larry Thompson, who goes by the name ‘Mr. Shrimp’,” Jacobs said. “For the boiled shrimp, we buy from our friend Dino, a third generation Plaquemines Parish shrimper.” The catfish is wild caught, and aficionados will notice the higher natural fat content and earthier flavor than its hothouse cousins.
Start with the “Colossal Shrimp Cocktail,” a simple dish that lets the quality of Mr. Shrimp’s delicacies shine. Also recommended are the charbroiled oysters, always a canvas for personal expression. The version here stars Gulf oysters topped with a homemade compound butter featuring citrus zest, fish sauce, garlic and chili. Topped with Grana Padano cheese and breadcrumbs, the only regret you will have is that they only come six to an order. The sauteed crawfish tails (available seasonally) come smothered in “Louie Lipps” sauce – a buttery concoction spiked with Worcestershire and rosemary boasting an incredible depth of flavor. “Louie Lipps was the owner of the old Crab Trap restaurant in Laplace,” Jacobs said. “Hurricanes shut him down, but this sauce pays him homage.”
For entrees, you can’t go wrong with a “Captain’s Fry Basket” – the batter for the fried seafood is notably light – just cornmeal, flour and seasoning – and intentionally lets the quality of the seafood shine. Try the thick curlicues of wild Des Allemandes catfish and plump Gulf oysters. The basket comes with a vinegar-based slaw and a ramekin of T’s Remoulade sauce – a tasty dip but also acidic. If you seek a different contrast, ask for a side of homemade ranch dressing to provide some creaminess for balance.
8400 Oak St., Carrollton. 766-8736. Seafoodsallys.com.
ABOUT THE CHEF
Caitlin Carney and Marcus Jacobs own the critically acclaimed Margie’s Grill, an unpretentious spot near Tulane and Broad which meshes Southeast Asian street foods with dishes from the U.S. Deep South. The duo is among the forefront in a wave of next-generation New Orleans restaurant owners who put as much emphasis on their workspace and hiring practices as they do on their menu. Sally’s is built to shine from the inside out, and guests with a keen eye for detail can spot the difference.