Following the strong recommendation of a trusted friend, Steve and I left our hotel on Canal Street recently, walked a couple of blocks to Royal Street, turned left and walked a few more blocks. At the corner of Royal and Calle B San Luis (St. Louis St), we spotted our destination — Royal House Oyster Bar. We were craving oysters.
We arrived early enough to score a prime seat on the outside of the upstairs balcony, perfect for people-watching, architecture-gazing and listening to nearby street musicians. It was vintage New Orleans at its best. Emergency vehicles careened through the narrow, one-way streets. A few cars drove by below us, looking futilely for a parking spot, and occasional bicycle taxis pedaled along at a leisurely pace (no doubt getting paid by the hour OR by the weight of the passengers in the back). The gaslights were just beginning to flicker on throughout the French Quarter. Almost within touching distance was the lavish apartment of the owner of Antoine’s Restaurant across the street with its ornate wrought iron railing.
Antoine’s has been serving French Creole food in New Orleans since 1840. What a place for a party!
And, diagonally across from Royal House was the ornate Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, one of those splurge kind of hotels.
Back to those oysters. The menu listed a myriad of intriguing selections. Oysters on the half shell. Chargrilled oysters. Oysters Rockefeller. Oysters Royale. Oyster Tacos. But when I spotted Oyster Beignets, I knew I’d have to try them. Beignets are a New Orleans tradition, especially if you get them at Cafe du Monde, but oyster beignets??
After sampling them thoroughly, my conclusion is that oysters should stay oysters, and beignets should stay beignets, and “never the twain should meet.” Powdered sugar on fried oysters?? Not my favorite, and I’m generally very adventurous.
The Boiler Pots had been highly recommended, but since we’re going to Maine soon and since many of the Boiler Pots included lobster, we decided to go in a different direction. Steve chose blackened redfish with potatoes and vegetables.
I chose the eggplant and oysters entree. I really like eggplant, and I really like oysters. It should have been fabulous, but I’d give it about a B. It just seemed a little heavy somehow. But, you are certainly free to decide for yourself. Never fear. There are a couple dozen more great-sounding entrees listed. You’re sure to find one that will suit you.
Desserts were extremely tempting — Bananas Foster Cheesecake, Brownie a la Mode, Homemade Bread Pudding — but we refrained.
There was a somewhat fun/somewhat unnerving quirkiness to that upper balcony where we sat. It was LEANING!!! Yes, LEANING. So much so, that our sweating water glasses (because of the heat and humidity) kept sliding across the table. The diners beside us didn’t manage to catch their glass in time, and water spilled on passersby below. Gulp. Our server told us that wineglasses are no longer allowed on the balcony because of the hazard, and that the worst incident was when a Tabasco bottle rolled off hitting a parked car. Yikes!! If the whole leaning balcony idea makes you a little squeamish, then just ask to sit inside. The tables are covered with white cloths, it’s cool, and flatscreens are placed conveniently for cheering on the Saints and LSU. Downstairs there is a huge bar with a full-length mirror behind it. I’m told you can sit there and watch the world go by through the mirrors.
Royal House Oyster Bar is one of so many great places to eat in this city known for its food. It’s not cheap, but I think you’ll like the atmosphere, the character of the building, and the seafood.