My initial visit to Half Shell was quite enjoyable. I entered expecting a good experience, and I came away with a smile on my face and the intention to make a return visit as soon as possible.
As I commonly do on initial restaurant visits, I selected a few “key” menu items to get a good sample of just how various dishes would compare to my personal standards. My initial grading gives the Half Shell a grade in the A-minus B-plus range for the food, service, ambiance, and value.
I started with a dozen raw oysters and a cold beer. Good oysters and good presentation. Next, I had the seafood gumbo, and it was incredible. Definitely in the running for nomination as one of the best gumbos in Mississippi/Louisiana area. I like my gumbo to have a dark brown roux; Half Shell had that roux and that unique flavor associated with truly great gumbo. Finally, as my entrée, I had the oyster Po-Boy.
The po-boy was good, but not as good as I had expected. I’d say it is a reasonably good po-boy, but that it does not compete with some of the truly great ones in the Mississippi Gulf Coast area. (I’ve eaten better oyster po-boys in at least four other Coast establishments). The greatest shortcoming was the bread, not the oysters. The bread was not the typical French-type bread found in the area, but it was more like the taste and consistency of a hot dog bun. Not what I was expecting. I do not particularly recommend the sandwich, but one can do a lot worse. Next time I’ll try something else.
The atmosphere is appealing. I ate in the bar—not the main dining area—of an interesting re-cycled building (not sure of the history). Service was friendly, prompt and efficient. Price range is moderately expensive.
As a tip to prospective diners, the parking lot (south of the restaurant and directly off Lameuse) is oddly arranged. Best bet is to enter from Water Street at rear of restaurant or to simply park in the adjacent Water St. auxiliary parking area. Visitors staying at Hard Rock have an easy walk to the restaurant; Beau Rivage guests are in for a somewhat longer walk.
Bottom line: I recommend the Half Shell to visitors. I think you’ll find it worthwhile.
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