Crudo and cocktails in the Warehouse District.

That’s typically a “say no more” when close friends ask for my short list of Nola restaurant recommendations, but asking where to eat in New Orleans is a loaded question.

Most friends who tap me for New Orleans restaurants have already dined at Pêche, but I suggest it again anyway, as raising glasses over imaginative fresh Gulf seafood dishes bursting with contemporary flavors never gets old.

Not to mention that the fish dish I adore the most is always curiously changing.

For the ultimate Pêche dining experience, take your time. I build the experience entirely around the baked drum entree, a fish special that changes seasonally (or seemingly upon Chef Ryan Prewitt’s whim) and a bottle of Sancerre.

But first, cocktails? 
If the art of a lingering lunch or celebratory dinner is knowing it’s a marathon not a sprint, then a cocktail is always the starting line.

Two spicy little numbers on the cocktail menu stand out: The Gintilly Shakedown, their signature gingery Hendrick’s Gin cocktail topped with Cava (a fan favorite), and the Little Red Corvette with smoky mezcal, jalapeño and hibiscus.

For grazing, there’s much to love and share at Pêche, but oysters on the half shell, tuna crudo and the smoked tuna dip served with a little tin of Saltine crackers are starter essentials. If the server offers a seafood platter option, take it!

Go drum or go home
Locally caught, black drum is a mild, freshwater fish often compared to redfish, and once considered a “trash fish.”

At Pêche, you never know what flavors the baked drum will beat to next. It could be playfully topped with English peas one season and then paired with chunks of roasted Long Island Cheese pumpkins the next.

It’s always swimming in a buttery broth such as coconut or mushroom and layered with bright flavors and interesting textures.

It changes with the seasons, but it doesn’t matter how it’s prepared; the baked drum is the dish everyone at the table envies—and someone should always order it.

If you think you’re burned out on brussel sprouts in the Big Easy dining scene, think again and just order one.

The happy-dance moment for me upon my last Pêche dining experience was discovering the cauliflower gratin and passing that love around the table, too. {clink}

If they have a dessert menu, I would have no idea, as lunch always lingers, another bottle of Sancerre appears and everyone orders as light or hearty as they please.

(Truth: I’ve heard there’s key lime pie, but lunch has always hit a crescendo by that point and we keep drinking.)

Play it again
When you go back to Pêche and the baked drum special has changed yet again, there’s a moment of who moved my cheese pumpkin confusion and silent mourning. You order it anyway.

A bite later, the fork drops.

The dish blows your mind all over again and then you begin to understand: to everything in New Orleans there is a season.

Like Carnival and crawfish season and Second Line parades popping up on the street, the seasons and moments are to be savored.

The steady beat of the baked drum keeps marching on. 

Pêche Seafood Grill, 800 Magazine Street

Reservations: Book through Resy or walk in for a chance table or spot at the bar.