It’s hard to imagine a more perfect location for a springtime lunch with friends. The patio is cool and shady, takes in a nice breeze and the fountain adds a soothing hum to complete the magic.
The inside restaurant is pleasantly appointed, black and white images of the old seafood industry, a lugger shrimp boat, seafood pickers, hang on the walls. The bar snakes around one wall, and wooden floors and gray washed chairs complete the coastal vibe that is perfect for the Raw concept.
The menu is concise and focuses on seafood. It has more than a dozen sushi rolls, a good selection of oysters, but there is also a smattering of other options, including a USDA prime ribeye and a filet mignon, lamb lollipop, and poke bowls (more on that later).
I am excited to tell you that Raw will be featuring locally harvested Deer Island off-bottom oysters, which you may have been hearing about lately. There are just over a dozen new oyster farms south of Deer Island, and initial samplings of oysters have been sensational.
Chef Kristian Wade, executive chef at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, pronounced them “Biloxi Butter,” and the nickname is sticking. Make sure to give these delicious oysters a try (you may want to try them raw the first time, just to better appreciate their wonderful flavors).
Our waitress suggested we start with the baked avocado, as a small plate. Avocado pairs so well with crab, and toss in aioli, green onions and a nice crunchy topping, just for contrast, and it was nothing short of delightful. Not bad for just $13, not bad at all.
Our next choice was barbecue shrimp, NOLA style. Made with Abita Amber beer, Worcestershire, NOLA barbecue butter, served with a sliced baguette for dipping. This is a classic New Orleans cuisine, neither Creole nor Cajun, loaded with garlic and butter, and it’s hard to think of a better combination. This dish also comes with oysters or lobster, but the barbecue shrimp are just $10.
We finished with a poke bowl (pronounced poo-kay). Poke finds its roots in Hawaiian foodways and seems to be an interpretation of Japanese street food, with Hawaiian twists and turns. You have the choice of shrimp, crab, tuna or tofu and the bowls come with avocado, cucumber, seafood salad, edamame, jalapeno, sushi rice and soy and ginger sauce. We chose the tuna ($17), and if you are looking for a healthier, lighter option, this might be for you.
Raw Oyster House is a much-welcomed addition to downtown Ocean Springs. The food scene continues to diversify, and another place with outside seating, both covered for inclement weather and open for a sunny day, is a big plus. The menu is just eclectic enough to be interesting, the seafood selection makes it Gulf-to-table, with some intriguing twists and turns.
Grab a friend or two while the spring weather lasts, get an outside table and enjoy the day, watching the foot traffic down Washington Avenue, enjoying good food and a nice wine selection.
Raw Oyster House
Where: 708 Washington Ave., Ocean Springs
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; closed Monday and Tuesday