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Review: Station 6 in Bucktown 

Chef Alison Vega-Knoll takes a refined approach to local seafood

click to enlarge Alison Vega-Knoll serves oysters on the half-shell at Station 6.

Photo by Cheryl Gerber

Alison Vega-Knoll serves oysters on the half-shell at Station 6.

Station 6 isn't your typical Bucktown seafood shack.

  While the casual standbys one would expect of seafood restaurants in the area are here, including raw oysters and cornmeal-dusted fried fish, the rest of Station 6's menu takes time-honored traditions and kicks them up a few notches, elevating the quality of the dishes as well as the prices.

  Husband-and-wife team Alison Vega-Knoll and Andrew Knoll opened their seafood restaurant last fall, after spending the past decade in the Caribbean. Vega-Knoll opened Vega Tapas Cafe in the late '90s, and her husband, who is a partner in Craig Borges' New Orleans Seafood Company, was once the chef de cuisine at Emeril's Delmonico. Though their experience and expertise are clear, the heart of the operation is the couple's New Orleans roots and love for the food they grew up eating.

  Gulf shrimp arrive in a sizzling cast-iron skillet, swimming in butter, garlic and Parmesan cheese. The plump shrimp are delicious, but merely a vehicle for the garlicky butter elixir left behind, which can be soaked up with thick slices of French bread. Yellowfin tuna is given a Hawaiian poke-like spin, where the fish cubes are marinated in sesame and soy and served with a bracingly fresh jicama slaw dotted with jalapeno slivers and served with avocado and tortilla chips.

  Bucktown cracked crab stew is similar to seafood gumbo, but with a slightly saline, earthy seafood medley of plump oysters and large crab legs protruding from the bowl. The dish, like so many others here, comes topped with a buttery slab of toasted French bread. One evening, a special featured smoked salmon atop a chopped salad of feta cheese, cucumbers, avocados, thinly-sliced red onions and tangy yogurt dressing. Though the salad was overdressed, the accompanying pita wedges provided the starch needed to sop up the dressing, and a garnish of tarragon provided a note of anise.

  It's not all seafood though, and the kitchen gussies up a few burgers and sandwiches. There's a great fried chicken sandwich, in which crispy bird is dressed with sweet and spicy syrup glaze and an over-the-top, rich and creamy blue cheese dressing.

  The owners have an unmistakable dedication to family. At the entrance, a blown-up photograph shows a young Vega-Knoll with her father on a fishing boat in Pass Christian, Mississippi. The Knoll's sons help out on the dining room floor, and the menu is punctuated by dishes from Vega-Knoll's past. Her "mamere's" crabmeat casserole is a buttery indulgence, with lumps of crabmeat bobbing in the impossibly creamy dish. On a recent Sunday afternoon, the restaurant was packed with families and groups. An elderly couple dressed in their Sunday best picked at a plate of pompano in curried butter while a group of young men sat at the bar eating burgers, drinking bloody marys and watching sports.

  Station 6 is located in the shadow of a pumping station, but with its wooden accents, potted plants and colorful banquettes, the restaurant's outdoor seating is a lovely place to soak up the afternoon air over a dozen oysters. It's also a friendly reminder of the casual Bucktown surroundings.

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