Digging In: At Harvey seafood hall, stuffing makes oysters shine _lowres

Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty - Seafood charbroiled oysters at Perino's Boiling Pot.

WILDCARD

Seafood Charbroiled Oysters

Perino’s Boiling Pot

3754 Westbank Expwy., Harvey

(504) 340-5560; perinosboilingpot.com

As charbroiled oysters have grown more common, what joins the bivalves bubbling in their shells has grown more exotic. But the version concocted by this boiled seafood hall by the Harvey Canal stands out with a highly-familiar addition. Each oyster ($20.98 dozen/$11.98 half dozen) gets a spoonful of seafood stuffing, of the type normally found filling a crab shell or a flounder. Rich with flecks of crabmeat and shrimp and paved with Italian cheeses (the precise blend is secret), it’s very hearty, tastes smooth and creamy and seems right at home against the fat oysters. That it starts with mostly breading should not stop you from sopping the buttery shells with still more bread.

UPSCALE

Drum with Artichoke Barigoule

Purloo

1504 O. C. Haley Blvd.

(504) 324-6020; nolapurloo.com

Working from a gleaming open kitchen at his new restaurant inside the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, Ryan Hughes turns out dishes rooted in the host institution’s theme and imbued with the mix of precision and originality that won him a loyal following long ago. This take on drum ($24), for instance, sits atop grits scented with cardamom and topped with fried pickles laced with a thin, crunchy cornmeal coating. But it also gets a dose of flavor more associated with southern France from the artichoke barigoule — a braised artichoke with the back-of-the-mouth tang of lemon and wine. The pan-seared fish flakes apart to soak up this flavorful juice.

CASUAL

Fried Steamed Bao

Bao & Noodle

2700 Chartres St.

(504) 272-0004; baoandnoodle.com

Opened last fall in a former coffee shop, Bao & Noodle is a casual spot for traditional Chinese cooking. Fried steamed bao ($5) are like oversized dumplings with crisp, pan-fried golden brown bases rising into tender steamed noodles to complete the package. Bite in and they gush peppery, finely-ground pork and aromatic steam. Bao is a popular street food back on its home turf, and thanks to the easy counter-service format at Bao & Noodle, they make a handy snack in the Marigny, too.

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.