The Pearl Street Oyster house recently opened in the part of downtown on mid-south Main across from the Chisca Hotel. I remember that being the name of one of the secondary oyster places in New Orleans that had a really neat neon sign. This is the area that I think has the most potential in Downtown for future development. It would be really neat if they did something with Hotel Chisca though a knowledgeable real estate mogul and old person said it was built with an excessive number of concrete columns that would make any renovated spaces less desirable. (This also applied to the Stearic building which made me sad.)
The Oyster house did a wonderful job of touching up the place with a surprisingly nice white coat of paint outside that gives the building a very distinctive look. Going inside the wood floors are nice and the place has white disposable but nice looking dining tables in a very nice configuration.
The first time I went I tried crawfish etoufee which was nice but a little overly hot and fried crab legs with remoulade. The crab legs were very nice, not of the blue crab which are/were served on the coast, but very crabby and a generous portion. The remoulade was perfect with a piquant taste and a lighter than mayo texture. I had the bread pudding for desert that was okay. It had raisins which was nice but suffered from the fate of many mediocre bread puddins of being jammed together and overly firm.
The second time I wandered in for lunch and ordered a Caesar with fried oyters, which was excellent. I believe I counted 8! Oyster which made it an unbelievable deal at 9.65 though the second time I had it it rang up at 10.45. I believe a price hike may be in the works. The earthy oyster taste complimented the light but solid Caesar and made an excellent lunch.
Then in the mist of moving Mother came to help and we went to the Oyster house. We had the mussel pan roast which was extraordinarily good and reminded me of being in France. A hot garlicky tomato puree sauce went really well with the mussels. The toast was the only low point with a distinctive twang of a low grade margarine coating. I would just brush lightly with Olive Oil instead of using fake margarine. We also had the chargrilled Oysters which had oysters broiled with parmesan and garlic and was delicious as it sounded.
Then I had the Oyster Po Boy and Mother had the trout amandine. The Oyster Po Boy was decent and probably the best I’ve had in Memphis. Notably it did not skimp the Oysters. The trout was perfectly cooked and buttery (hmm) with lots of almonds. Good stuff.
Mother really liked the place as when I asked the next night where she wanted to go she immediately and without hesitation said she wanted to go back. Given mother’s fits of indecision this is a major sign of a good opinion of a place.
We decided just to do Appetizers this time though. We had Oysters Bienville and the crabmeat cocktail which came with cocktail sauce though we asked for butter. When the butter came it was margarine again (I know the good stuff is back there somewhere.) I think its just easier as they no doubt have a big tub pre-melted to go on the bread. We solved the problem by using the remoulade that came with the Crab Cakes I also got which were solid, but not stellar.
Still being hungry mother got a cup of Gumbo and we split an order of fried Oysters. The ½ dozen marker on the menu is inaccurate. You get a whole little bowl of the crispy little yummies! The gumbo was okay, but mother though it was overly thick.
Definitely, a first class place. The prices are lower than Crescent City Café while being of uniformly higher quality and portion size.
The week later, mother came back and we went to Spindini. The Bocaesque Italian place a few doors down where all the hip people are apparently going. We walked into a nearly empty place with some very fake wood looking high tables and a row of seats crammed against one side of the wall with a gigantic bar taking up the other side of the room. They had full reservations so we had to go sit on the tables outside, which could really use the umbrellas.
So mother and I got to watch the very Bocaesque procession of Escalades, Mercedes, and Cadillacs arriving where men got out with women their own age and groups of women got out in nice but fairly reasonable attire. That was unBocaesque as in Boca the women would be with men 30 years older and wearing jeans that only allow a twenty degree range of motion. There would also be some men with women thirty years older who are not related.
We started off with the fried Calamari which was very pleasant but didn’t have any tentacle ends with is the best part. It was fried very well and mother thought it was the best she had had in Memphis. The Lemon Aioli was overly thick and lacked a defined taste structure to me.
Mother had the lobster and corn chowder which was very good with a perfect balance of all the flavors and one of the few chowders that wasn’t overly thick without being watery.
I had the brick chicken which was a stuffed chicken wing deboned (that’s nice) topped with a flavorful white cheese and cooked with broth. It was a hardy peasant fare that made me feel egalitarian. Mother had the fried ravioli which she raved over being the most flavorful ravioli she ever had. I tried a bite and it was rendolent.
For desert we had Tiramisu which while it was considerably dressed up was the foodservice one at Costco that costs $14 a box. The Costco one is very nice , but it was a little off from the tenor of the place and I have a sneaking suspicion the chocolate syrup was Hershey’s.
So Mid-South Main has picked up two very nice eateries.