Ocean Springs celebrating food and wine

 Crawfish Etouffée will be the featured dish at the new Froghead Grill on Bienville Boulevard during Restaurant Week in Ocean Springs.
COURTESY FROGHEAD GRILL Crawfish Etouffée will be the featured dish at the new Froghead Grill on Bienville Boulevard during Restaurant Week in Ocean Springs.

OCEAN SPRINGS -- With more than 100 restaurants in the city, some would say every week is Restaurant Week in Ocean Springs.

May 14 through 20 is officially Restaurant Week, and all of May is a celebration of food and drink, with Free Food Fridays each week and the eighth annual Taste of Ocean Springs Food and Wine Festival on Thursday.

"We are now in the second year of promoting Ocean Springs Restaurant Week," said Cynthia Sutton, executive director of the Ocean Springs Chamber-Main Street-Tourism Bureau. "Local restaurants will offer a special menu during the restaurant week. It can be a new item the restaurant is wanting to try out or an item that is currently on the menu but the restaurant wants to showcase for a certain price."

The city is know for its festivals and Sutton said, "What better way for a restaurant to market itself than to let people taste something on their menu?"

Froghead Grill has new dish

Crawfish Etouffée will be the featured dish at Froghead Grill, a new restaurant at 1618 Bienville Blvd.

"It's a very hearty, traditional crawfish etouffée," owner Joshua Welch said. The dish is not on the regular menu but was a hit when it was featured for Mother's Day, he said.

It's one of the entrees created at the original Froghead Grill restaurant, which has been open for nine years in the Jackson area.

"We're casually Cajun," he said, with fast casual during the day and table service at night. Frogs -- exotic live ones in aquariums, frog statues and Fred, the frog for whom Froghead was founded -- are on display throughout the restaurant.

"You've got to have good food and service," he said. But Welch is participating in Restaurant Week because he believes it's equally important to take care of the community.

All from scratch at Mary C.

A much different approach to Restaurant Week will be taken at the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center's Culinary Arts Cafe at 1600 Government St. The cafe will present its Restaurant Week offerings Friday.

Chef Cheri Hiers will give a demonstration Thursday at the Taste of Ocean Springs and use that theme as the basis for lunch and dinner Friday. Lunch will be priced at $10 and she will prepare Seafood Ceviche with pineapple, kiwi and strawberries, a Teacup Wildflower Salad, served in an actual teacup, and Lemon Rosemary Meringues for dessert.

"Everything will be made from scratch," she said, and the flowers and rosemary will be from the cafe's garden. Dinner Friday night will start with an appetizer of the Seafood Ceviche, followed by garlic and rosemary-crusted roast beef with spring pea mash and herbed butter, roasted tomato couscous and hummingbird cake. The cost is $35 and reservations are required at or 818-2878.

"We're not a normal restaurant," she said. "We're not for profit. We're here for the community." Lunch & Learn sessions are held every Thursday and Friday and during summer camp kids ages 8 and older learn to prepare dishes completely from scratch, serve them to their parents and clean up.

Others participating in Restaurant Week are: Applebee's at 1601 Bienville Blvd., The Office Bar at 1000 Government St., Raising Cane's at 3098 Bienville Blvd. and Vestige Restaurant at 715 Washington Ave.

Free Food Fridays gift certificates will be featured on the Ocean Spring Chamber's Facebook page to those who "like" and "share" the contest details as they are posted each week.