Eating on the edge of town is our favorite thing to do.
We may take an Istanbul water taxi as far as it will go up the Bosphorus to find a particularly good fried anchovy platter; we once spent hours hiking through a mountainous neighborhood in Bratislava to find a Croatian oyster house that a barman had said was a must visit; and last weekend we drove deep into Little Woods, the most violent and bloody neighborhood in all of New Orleans to get a soft shell crab po boy at a neighborhood fish shack.
Mr. Bondi has since made his name in New Orleans East by providing dozens of fresh fishes by the pound as well as serving big platters of fried and boiled seafood to the violence-plagued neighborhood.
Little Woods bested Central City and The French Quarter in a study conducted last year to determine the number one neighborhood in all of New Orleans for violent crime.
So we kept a watchful eye when we drove out to Castnet Seafood last weekend to eat a softshell crab po boy. This is something we’ve grown accustomed to as we reside in the Upper 9th Ward where armed robbery, rape and murder are everyday occurrences.
The little neighborhood cafe is packed. There’s a scrum of eaters lined up in the seafood market as well as the dine-in portion of the establishment. A deafeningly loud public address system apprises eaters as to when their food is ready. A team of roughly 20 workers are busting their collective ass to get the crowd fed and keep the cash registers humming.
A soft shell crab po boy will set you back $12.75 and you can reckon it’s fresh as there are plenty available to go out of the cold case for $5 apiece.
After a 20 minute wait our number is called (at well over a hundred decibels) and we prepare to feast.
The loaf-bread had at one time been of good quality but unfortunately is served stale.
Two small but plump, deep-fried crabs are nestled into the bread amid mayonnaise, pickles, iceberg lettuce and ripe tomatoes. The crabs are nicely seasoned but are not stove-hot.
It had taken us upwards of 20 seconds to retrieve our order once it had been bellowed across the p.a so we’re not sure where the glitch in the system is.
They’re widely available in local markets but finding a restaurant that serves them in the po boy format is not easy. We’ll happily forgo future ones if they’re to be served stone cold like the one we attempted to enjoy at Castnet Seafood.
10826 Hayne Blvd
New Orleans, LA