G W Fins
808 Bienville St
New Orleans, LA 70112
Napoleon's Rating: ****/*****
The entrée menu at GW Fins changes up as frequently as the chef's seafood connections bring in a new catch, but the appetizers have evolved into a more stable list of house favorites. This restaurant must go through a staggering amount of lobster, because it seems every other table orders the fried lobster tail, which proved such a hit as a sandwich when served at the annual Po-Boy Festival. Lobster also goes into delicate dumplings in a lobster butter sauce. Blue crab pot stickers follow a similar Louisiana-seafood-goes-Asian theme, and are also highly recommended. My favorite is an order of a half-dozen smoked oysters, which arrived sizzling in butter in their shells.
It's hard to know just what fish will turn up on the GW Fins menu from night to night, but that's part of the appeal of the place. Anyway, it's hard to make a poor choice. This is a highly consistent kitchen. You might find something as familiar as redfish, but then it's crusted with pumpkin seeds with sage brown butter. The same menu might also feature John Dory, that buttery, delicate fish we rarely see at local restaurants. Salmon, tuna and scallops might be common enough seafood menu fare, and here they're vividly fresh, done to a turn and often joined by imaginative presentations. Whole fish is another specialty, and whenever Gulf pompano or Mediterranean bronzini appear on the menu these are reliably great. There is always steak on the menu, and a pork chop and grilled chicken, though clearly these items are there for those averse to seafood who somehow wind up in this dedicated seafood house.
The dessert list is short and pretty straightforward. The go-to item is the apple pie, which is like an oversized turnover for two. The crust is delicious, with a subtle twist from cheddar cheese melted in.
The GW Fins bar will mix a proper cocktail, though wine is really the better accompaniment to seafood of this caliber and the list here is impressive. There is plenty of range, and you can get very good bottles for under $40. The by-the-glass selection is extensive also.
This will be an expensive dinner, with most entrees up in the high-$20s. Two people will easily spend $140 here with wine or drinks. It certainly seems justified for the quality of the cuisine and overall experience. The restaurant periodically runs three-course specials that are great bargains.
One measure of just how deep our city's inventory of great restaurants runs is the way some very fine examples keep a relatively low profile. That's the case at GW Fins, a swank, contemporary seafood restaurant serving an exciting, high-caliber cuisine that still seems like a surprise and a find on each visit, especially given its proximity to the loud end of Bourbon Street. In fact, I think it's one of the best high-end places for seafood in New Orleans.