Off the Hook Fish House is the latest eatery to open in Ocean Springs and it is making a big splash.
The main dining area is comfortable, and still has that just-opened smell, but with weather like we've had recently, the deck is the place to be.
The open deck is shaded by two big sycamore trees, and on our visit we had a lovely breeze to cool a humid but still comfortable day.
The chairs at the raised tables, which are nicely varnished, add a festive flair with brand-new red, yellow and green paint jobs. There is also a covered area just in case we get a surprise springtime rain.
The inside dinning menu is a bit more extensive than the deck menu, but unless you are looking for a grilled steak, the abbreviated menu will do just fine.
I am a big fan of making a meal out of small-portion appetizers, and Off the Hook has several that fit that bill perfectly. Make sure to try the fried crab or shrimp balls (just $7).
You get three almost golf-ball-size fritters, served with a good remoulade sauce, and if you like it spicy, there are two kinds of hot sauce on the table to give it a good bang.
The server also told us the peel-n-eat shrimp were quite popular ($7 to $12), as were the crab claws (market price). A couple of good appetizers and a cold beer might just be the right combination for this lovely deck.
The basket section of the menu seems to be the core of the carte du jour. Look for everything from the house-special shrimp to crab fingers, fried oysters, stuffed crabs and fried crawfish, with prices varying from market value, $9.50 and $12. If you are really hungry, this is the way to go.
There also is a good selection of po-boys, with all the basics covered, for just $11. Feeling contrary, I had to go for the fish taco ($8.50), with shrimp balls ($7) and a side of shrimp potato salad, which comes with the taco, but can be ordered separately for just $2.50.
The fish taco was cooked as it should have been, with a nice garnish of crunchy cabbage, a little remoulade sauce, and I couldn't resist a dash of Tabasco.
The shrimp balls were a bit of a surprise, as they were bigger than I expected, had a nice crunchy crust and were creamy smooth inside. The shrimp potato salad was also a pleasant addition -- a good basic salad, spruced with just the right amount of boiled shrimp.
The entire lunch was just a hair over $16, the portions were plentiful, service friendly and quick, and the deck is as lovely a place to spend the day as Ocean Springs has to offer.