I am always saddened by peoples’ dismissal of New Orleans as a party town … I mean, it totally is, but there’s a lot more to it than the partiers who are laissez les bons temps rouler-ing. I was delighted to get out of the French Quarter bubble on my last trip to visit the new Ace Hotel in the CBD (Central Business District) and dine at Seaworthy, the slightly “hidden” seafood restaurant marked by the eerie glow of a green neon sign.
The space is old school New Orleans, a little hipster and a little southern with elegant touches of brass here and … well, everywhere. You can choose to sit at the bar by the entrance that is both for booze and oysters–both of which were fresher than expected in many ways–at a table in the dimly lit dining room, or on the patio. Their patio is just about the closest thing as I’ve found to heaven in New Orleans (without being a tiki bar) thanks to the preservation of the building itself, the minimal (yet unmistakable) nautical decor, and the globe lights adorning every inch of the place.
The drink program here is very well done with bar director Lauren Schell at the helm. (See what I did there?) The cocktail list was a mix of classics (think Fishhouse Punch and Sidecars) and more “au courant” options like the Holywater (spiced rum, cognac, Green Chartreuse, almond syrup, grapefruit, lemon, lime, and angostura bitters) and the Good Ships/Wood Ships (the Tales of the Cocktail Daiquiri Seasonal Feature with El Dorado 5yr rum, Genepy des Alpes, pamplemousse liqueur, and lime). The wine and beer list are respectable with very limited but well selected options in both categories. (Really … there are only 11 by the glass options for wine making it a snap to choose which to order.)
As the name implies, the food menu is decidedly seafood-slanted. The oysters on the bar beg to be slurped as much as the drinks, so who were we to deny them the joy of being dinner? (Just ask for extra crackers if you’re into carb-loading your oysters.) Also not to be missed is their ceviche (Gulf fish, lime, brunoise of habañero chilies, sweet peppers, herbs) served with unexpectedly delicious grit crisps. The Gulf fish was surprisingly delicious and tender … and we may have ordered a second bowl of it.
Overall, the restaurant is worth a visit, if not for dinner for at least a happy hour with a couple (five) cocktails and a found of their fresh-as-they-get oysters.
SEAWORTHY at the Ace Hotel
630 Carondelet Street (Central Business District), New Orleans