by Max Brantley
Finally got there today.
Surprise. The claim isn't out of line.
Mike claims to bring seafood from Alabama. I didn't check the shipping containers. But the oysters were sweet and fresh tasting. The shrimp, likewise. And at this point my one quibble: Mike used tiny shrimp on my sandwich today. You get more crunch that way and Mike's battering is even and the frying right, but I prefer a shrimp po-boy made with larger shrimp, say 8 to 10 or so of 25-30 count per pound. His menu advertises "fantail shrimp" in the dinner baskets. I'd have liked to have seen them on the sandwich
The bread is said to be from Leidenheimer's, one of the last heritage bread bakers in New Orleans, and it tasted like that light-crusted, puffy loaf. Boulevard Bread makes better bread. Leidenheimer's makes better po-boy bread. Too much substance in the loaf detracts from the crunchy seafood, the carefully shredded lettuce, the tomato slices, the pickle chips (only on request) and the mayo inside. Oh, and another great thing: Mike's butters and toasts the bread before building the sandwich.
Both an oyster po boy (half-pictured) and a shrimp po boy were generously filled with crunchy seafood, fried only after ordering. We were nodding heads in approval in unison at first bite. The french fries, said to be fresh cut, weren't bad. I'd still take a little more crispness, but in a town notably deficient in well-fried potatoes, these weren't too bad.
Big Red soda pop is in the cooler by the counter where you line up to order. I forgot, inexcusably, to look for Barq's. There's real beer, too.
It may not be the Parkway Bakery or Domilise's or Casamento's, but Mike's is also not a seven-hour drive. Pleasant surprise all around. The sandwiches were priced around $11 on the board by the register, a few dollars more than the printed price on the handout menu. It's at 200 N. Bowman, a few doors away from Fu Lin.