Baton Rouge, LA

Southern Pearl Is a Jewel in the Baton Rouge Culinary Tiara

DeanLand

With an outstanding history of legendary local restaurants stretching back for decades, who would think that an out-of-town entry would crack our list of culinary favorites in Baton Rouge? We came of age when names like Ralph and Kacoos, Mike and Tony's, Jack Sabin's, Jake Staples and the original Phil's Oyster Bar dominated the who's who in the Capitol City restaurant scene.

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The Southern Pearl oyster bar invites visitors to order a cold one and suck down a dozen raw, all while listening to zydeco.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

So when the Mississippi-based Half Shell Oyster House opened the Southern Pearl Oyster House in 2019, we yawned with excitement over the news, but made a mental note to try it on a slow day. Then the world went crazy in 2020, as COVID closed everything, restaurants included.

With our dining comfort nearly back to normal, we finally visited Southern Pearl for a weekday summer late lunch -- and now we're sorry we waited so long.

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The smoky bacon shrimp and grits delivered on every promise, with soft smooth grits surrounded by shrimp and bacon.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

Right off, we'll say we didn't have oysters, as we still (generally) follow that old-timer's advice about avoiding the tasty crustaceans in months that don't have an "R." (Although, out of desperation, we have occasionally pronounced the eighth month of the year as AuRgust.) Our hungry group chose three lunch specials: Smoky Bacon Shrimp and Grits, Seafood Pot Pie, and a classic fried shrimp plate.

The shrimp and grits delivered on every promise: soft, smooth grits swimming in a smoky cream sauce, surrounded by plentiful shrimp and lots of bacon. We recommend you ask for a spoon to be sure you get every last bit of this tasty dish.

The pot pie was topped with a flat buttermilk crust, covering a steaming bowl of pot pie filling accompanied by shrimp, crawfish and crab meat. We would love to return on a cold November day to fully appreciate the hot and filling dish.

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The seafood pot pie is topped with a flaky buttermilk crust, with a steaming bowl of crab, shrimp and crawfish hidden beneath.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

The fried shrimp lunch plate featured approximately 10 large shrimp, fried in a golden brown cornmeal-based batter.

We skipped dessert, largely because the sweet potato creme brulee side dish was an adequate sweet substitute.

At its heart, Southern Pearl is a classic New Orleans-style oyster house. The central bar invites patrons to enjoy a cool beverage while sucking down on a tasty dozen raw, all accompanied by a soundtrack of classic Louisiana music from Professor Longhair, Buckwheat Zydeco, Trumpet Mafia and lots of others.

Long story short: we'll be back, and recommend you stop in for a try if you haven't already.

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The interior of Southern Pearl features the classic look of a backstreet New Orleans haunt.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

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I'm a trained journalist, global traveler and retired business executive who worked for more than 20 years with some of the world's best and largest restaurant enterprises. I left the business world behind, living in Northwest Georgia and writing about avocations including outdoor excursions, family-friendly travel, road trips, exploration ideas for active seniors and some of my community passions. I've traveled to 47 states and nearly as many countries, and I'm still counting up. I'm a traveler, hiker, cyclist, blogger, marketing consultant, community volunteer and local high school band nerd who previously has lived in Florida, Ohio, Indiana and Mississippi. I'm a South Louisiana-born French Cajun whose great-grandparents were sugar farmers, bar owners and reputed bootleggers. My upbringing in food-rich Louisiana and my restaurant industry career affirmed my status as an over-qualified eater. That also inspired the name of my blog, OurTravelCafe.com. There, I offer up a complete menu of our my own experiences, explorations and adventures, organized by geography and always sprinkled with some spicy, tasty tidbits and food notes.

Acworth, GA
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