Thursday, May 7, 2009

Eater's Remorse: Fried Shrimp Po'-ly Done Boy

There's nothing worse than feeling like your money was wasted ... unless it's feeling like your money was wasted, as well as your fat allowance. There's a certain amount of artery-clogging fat I like to enjoy on a daily basis, but for me to feel okay with meeting or surpassing that quota, it needs to be proportionately delicious. Otherwise, it's not really worth the guilt. On Wednesday, it was definitely not worth it.

Boy was actually downtown during lunchtime for a job interview for a company that was located in the CBD-ish area. He had noticed a sign that intrigued him -- "Bobby Flay Lost Here." Being an avid fan of Food Network's show Throwdown with Bobby Flay, he was of course interested in having me meet him to explore this divey joint, as we are wont to do.

So off I went, walking from my office at One Canal Place to St. Charles Avenue, wandering down the street for anywhere that looked disreputable enough to be a po-boy dive. I happened upon Mike Serio's Po-Boys and Deli, a seedy/cheap-looking establishment with a spacious dining room filled with football memorabilia and apparently, a would-be senator named Stormy Daniels. (...Who incidentally used to be some kind of Playmate. Who'd have thunk with such a proper name like Stormy, that they'd turn out to be a Playmate of sorts? I don't know -- it all struck me as very Legally Blonde, what with the long extension, shellacked makeup, pasted-on skirt, and high, high heels. She was very pretty, though.)

Anyway, we walked past the brouhaha to order up at the counter, where the prices were reasonable and the service was friendly, even if the staff was a little unhealthily obsessed with LSU and consequently, football. After all, this is a permanent condition in these parts. I looked at the "Bobby Flay" flyer they had up, and saw that if was specifically for a muffuletta throwdown and debated getting just that. However, I've been using the fried shrimp po-boy for the past two months as a gauge judging po-boy shops, so I went for my usual - fully dressed, extra, extra mayo and plenty o' pickles.

With the order placed at the counter, I went in search of the ladies room and was directed through a discreetly placed door near the entrance, whose paint was more closely resembling greasy gris than white, and made my way up old industrial stairs into a big empty room. The bathroom was located through the abandoned, filthy room, with two toilets with no doors and no toilet paper holders. Now having no toilet paper holders is forgivable; having them on the disgusting, ashed-on floor in a restroom that reeked of cigarettes? Not cool.

But it's New Orleans, so I sucked it up, and made it downstairs with minutes to spare before my sandwich was ready.

It was hot when it hit my hands--a good sign--and I eagerly brought it to one of the many tables so that we could sit and enjoy our greasy goods.

I unwrapped the sandwich and found the size to be standard. A few shrimp rolled out of the sandwich. This is a plus, since it usually signifies that the po-boy is overstuffed. However, in this case, this was an inaccurate assumption. Here's what went wrong:
  • The shrimp: being small is no big deal--you expect high-count shrimp when you're getting a sandwich made out of them. However, in small shrimp, what you don't expect is that Gulf-y strong briny taste that I find unspeakably abhorrent. It just makes the shrimp taste old and not fresh.
  • The salt: the batter for the shrimp was simply too salty. Not Bennachin's omg-my-tongue-just-suctioned-onto-the-back-of-my-throat salty, but salty enough for me to say, "ugh, this is too salty."
  • The seasoning: aside from salt, the batter didn't really have much other flavor to speak of.
  • The bread: I don't always need to have Leidenheimer bread. Quite frankly, one of my favorite po-boys (Crabby Jack's) doesn't use this venerable bakehouse's goods at all. But this bread was hard, not as moist or dense as you'd expect of quality French bread, and didn't break apart with fragility. Rather, it broke off in chunks.
  • The dressing: there wasn't much that counts as "dressing" in this sandwich. The lettuce was sparse, the few slices of tomato extremely thin, and my request for "extra" pickles resulted in approximately five pieces of pickle.
  • The mayo: their "extra" was any other shop's "normal" -- a thin layer smeared on top. I want it gloppy and a little bit gross. This isn't their fault; I'm obviously an anamoly when it comes to mayonnaise, but I thought I'd throw it in there.
  • The price: just wasn't worth a ten-spot, when I could go to the Adams Street Grocery and get a better quality shrimp po-boy for under $8, or an overstuffed king-sized sub from Crabby Jack's, a buttery one from Johnny's or Parkway, or for a couple bucks more, a toppings-heavy sammich from Domilise's.
The verdict?

Not worth it. Save yo' dollas and go the distance to a different neighborhood for a better value. Or don't be stupid like me. Get the muffuletta, since that's obviously their specialty ... or again, cross Canal and head up towards Central Grocery for the original. Either way, Mike Serio's is a poor copycat if their shrimp sammich is any indication, and I'm very sorry I wasted my money and fat quota here.

Mike Serio's Po Boys and Deli
133 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, Louisiana


  1. It's pretty hard to screw a po boy up so when it's bad, it's baaaaad. Thanks for the info. Was actually thinking about going after reading a mention of it on the Best of New Orleans blog.

  2. The thing is, it's not necessarily that it was BAD ... it was just not up to par with the competition. It would be a great po-boy (the shrimp stayed crispy, some people like the Gulf-y flavor, others like harder bread) if it weren't served in New Orleans, where the standards are insanely high.

    Flojindamesa - get ye down to Crabby Jack's, Domilise's, Parkway Tavern and Bakery, or Johnny's. There's one stellar spot for every neck of the woods ;)