Mobilians have long had a love affair with oysters. Now, there is a new oyster eatery on Airport Boulevard focused on bringing the beloved bivalves and New Orleans-style specialties to the Port City. Half Shell Oyster House is a casual, comfortable restaurant with a touch of French Quarter flair. The Half Shell opened its doors in late June in the location formerly occupied by West Marine. (No worries, West Marine simply moved across the parking lot.) The building has undergone quite a transformation and now features ironwork and faux, exposed brick, along with booth, bistro and bar seating.
The Half Shell is the first Alabama location for the small Mississippi-based chain that began in Biloxi and Gulfport back in 2008. “We hope to become a staple for great seafood in Mobile with plans to expand to Spanish Fort, Daphne, Birmingham and Pensacola in the near future, ” says managing partner Joshua Lord.
As might be expected, the menu features oysters in several classic preparations, including Rockefeller, Bienville and their signature Oysters Orleans, a smoky, spicy Cajun version. Seafood dishes dominate the offerings running the gamut from Gulf Coast staples, such as shrimp and grits, fried crab claws and po’boys, to the tasty duo of fried green tomatoes and crab cakes and the popular seafood-stuffed portabella mushroom cap. Most items come with a side or two – try the sweet potato crème brûlée or the chargrilled asparagus with Gorgonzola butter. There is a quartet of desserts – a cinnamon roll bread pudding, bananas Foster cheesecake, a key lime pie, and, of course, something for chocoholics. Those looking to imbibe will find a good, very nicely priced wine list, a bevy of beers, a slew of specialty cocktails and a surprising selection of single malt Scotch. Take $2 off everything during happy hour, from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. The Sunday brunch features their own bloody, the Half Shell Mary, crafted with house-infused vodka.
ON THE MENU
Fried Green Tomatoes and Crab Cakes
Two tasty traditional Southern specialties, above, are served together, topped with crabmeat ravigote and diced tomatoes and green onions.
Lobster, Corn and Crab Bisque
The lush, spicy, well-seasoned bisque brims with corn and bits of lobster and crabmeat.
Moist, tender fish is capped with grilled shrimp and slicked with a New Orleans-style barbecue sauce, all sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
Bananas Foster Cheesecake
A delectable cross between tried-and-true favorites banana pudding, bananas Foster and creamy cheesecake with a satiny rum sauce.
Half Shell Oyster House • 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Su – Th, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. F / Sa
3654 Airport Blvd. 338-9350.
text by Sallye Irvine