Seared Diver Scallops
129 Camp St., (504) 553-6738; leforetneworleans.com
The dining room at this elegant CBD restaurant sets a stage for opulence, but for his standout scallop dish ($32) chef Brandon Felder starts with the basics. It doesn’t hurt those basics are fat, fresh-tasting scallops that remain velvety smooth under the hard golden sear on top. The artistry comes in the rest of the composition, which seems to weave seared shrimp between the round scallops, a crisscross of carrots and small rises of roasted cauliflower strewn with herbs for a visual feast. Sweet pea puree, painted on the plate, is a good accompaniment to the seafood sweetness, while a beurre blanc brings a mark of acidity, rippling with lemon and thyme.
4330 Magazine St., (504) 895-9761
This Uptown oyster emporium, back again this week from its annual summer break, is justly famous for its ice-cold raw oysters. But it also has a special way with fried oysters. Take a little tour of the kitchen (the only way to get to the restrooms), and you’ll see fried oysters sputtering away in cast-iron skillets. Get those on the distinctive Texas toast for an oyster loaf ($7.95 half/$16.50 whole), an altogether different sandwich from an oyster po-boy and a Casamento’s essential.
5130 Freret St.
(504) 899-6532, sushinola.com
Resembling some cross between a taqueria snack, a culinary dare and a sushi bar creation, this unusual appetizer started as a special and has become a menu fixture, more or less permanently penciled in as part of the menu. Whole jalapenos are halved and their interiors lined with cream cheese and either finely-chopped spicy raw tuna ($7.95) or creamy crabstick salad ($6.95), then fried in a tempura batter. The filling and the frying cuts the spicy heat of the peppers a bit, but they still have quite a kick. This is best used as a shared starter to spread the heat around.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.