There I was, minding my own business (or as much as you can on Facebook), when all my senses were hit by a post from a friend.
"The best oyster po-boy on the Coast!" he proclaimed, and posted a photo of a fried-oyster stuffed, dressed po-boy. Mind you, this is a man who knows his food. He is not given to hyperbole. He's posted photos of meals from around the country -- yea, the world -- so it certainly gave me pause.
"What makes it the best?" I asked, and he replied, "Great fried oysters, seasoned well, not too much corn meal flour. Nice pressed bread. Lots of big plump oysters."
Well, then. I gravitate toward a shrimp po-boy, but I'm open to oyster. I asked him where this fine sandwich might be found, and he replied, "Herrin's Short Stop in Saucier."
I was game for a bit of a drive (my friend's job takes him all around Harrison County), so up U.S. 49 I went, to try one for myself.
Herrin's is at 23430 Saucier Lizana Road. If you're taking 49, turn at the Dollar General in Saucier, and with your favorite map app, you can find it. The sign might be hidden by a row of vehicles; the building is a little nondescript. Right now, a new community center is being built next door, so that could be a handy landmark. Do I sound like I drove merrily past it in my first attempt? I did, but there are plenty of turn-around opportunities.
Herrin's is very casual. You order and pay at a counter when you walk in, then choose a table and your order is brought to you. Pitchers of homemade tea and water are next to the drink machine. Devilishly distracting hunks of homemade cake in individual containers flirt at you as you place your order. People are friendly. You almost expect to see a long-lost cousin walk through the door. In fact, I did see a former co-worker who grew up in the area there with her daughter.
I ordered an oyster half po-boy, dressed, for $10.99; a whole is only $2 more, but I didn't know what might happen on the drive back, alone with an entire half po-boy filled with fried oysters. I had water to drink, mainly because my chosen "side" was a 16-ounce milkshake ($3) blended with a popular chocolate, caramel and peanut candy bar.
My oyster po-boy arrived hot, pressed and definitely stuffed. My friend's photographed one was no fluke. The oysters were crunchy and soft, hot and definitely fresh. They had a bit of heat but not enough to frighten anyone off; I added a few shakes of hot sauce. The bread was good French bread; even pressed, it was crusty and chewy, like it should be.
I had to hold off on the shake a few minutes. I had stuck the straw in the cup, taken a big draw and unexpectedly maintained the fish lips. This was a seriously thick shake. After it thawed enough for straw consumption, it was impressive. The candy bar(s) had not been blended into oblivion. Chips were whirled through the shake, and in the bottom were chunks, a sweet surprise.
"October will be 14 years" that Herrin's Short Stop has been in business, said Karen Herrin, one of several family members involved in the business started by Barbara and Richard Herrin. "And the same family has owned it all this time. I know pretty much everybody who comes in here -- they're like family."
The Seafood Platter ($19.95) is a big seller. It has fish, shrimp, oysters and a crab cake and is served with fries, homemade slaw, hushpuppies and tartar and cocktail sauces. There are also fried catfish, oyster or shrimp dinners as well as hamburgers, cheeseburgers, seafood sandwiches and salads. Po-boy varieties include shrimp, catfish, grilled or fried chicken, hamburger, hot roast beef and gravy, ham and cheese, turkey and barbecued beef.
Herrin's is just up the road from the community's ball park, Herrin said.
"We're open later for them when they're playing," she said. "We have our menu posted on our Facebook page so they can call and let us know they're coming and what they want."