The Roaming Parkers are foodies, and we recently had an outstanding food adventure in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Oysters Rockefeller was invented in the late 1800’s in the now-famous New Orleans restaurant, Antoine’s. The inventor apparently took his recipe to the grave with him, so any modern rendition of the dish is an approximation – butthe one at The Purple Parrot in Hattiesburg, Mississippi was fabulous and was a great intro to a fantastic meal.
The Purple Parrot is a cool, dimly-lighted, dark-wood respite from the blistering Mississippi heat. It is a place of brass and heavy furniture and nautical decor.
Oysters Rockefeller – a large oyster battered with cornmeal and fried crispy served on a bit of shredded spinach with a tangy Bearnaise sauce and sprinkled with bacon. The predominant delight here was the tang of the sauce paired with the crunch of the oyster.
Gumbo Ya Ya – this sausage and seafood stew derives its name from an African word for okra (quingombo) because okra is often used as a thickener in gumbo. When served over rice some folks call the dish gumbo yaya (yaya is another African word for rice). The Purple Parrot’s gumbo yaya is a rich, dark roux with shrimp and smoked sausage. I love okra in gumbo and I didn’t detect any okra in it at all, so maybe it was thickened with file’ powder (ground sassafras) as some folks do. In any case, it was a wonderful gumbo.
Fried Oyster Salad – for my entree I had a Caesar salad with roasted red peppers surrounded by 8 or 10 of those wonderful crispy fried oysters. Caesar salad is a classic standard and is easy to mess up when you go overboard in varying the basic ingredients (Romaine, Parmesan, anchovies) but the addition of the fried oysters definitely kicked this salad up about 2 notches!
Shrimp Grits – Elise mastered the cooking of grits a few years into our marriage. She doesn’t even have to measure any more, and we never know if it is going to be cheesy or rich, garlic-y or plain. Her breakfast dishes with grits are always lapped up by hungry Parkers. When eating out she hardly ever passes up a restaurant special that includes grits, claiming that she likes to compare chef-prepared grits to her homemade dishes. The Purple Parrot’s shrimp grits did not fail to deliver! The finely ground grain was cooked with a cream base, real butter, and plenty of garlic. It was an excellent pairing with the shrimp, topped with their house-smoked bacon, charred tomatoes, shallots, and shiitake mushrooms.
Coffee – Coffee after a meal can be an afterthought. This was not! Whatever rich, smooth, creamy coffee The Purple Parrot was brewing was a perfect finish for this meal!
In short – The Roaming Parkers thoroughly enjoyed their lunch at this establishment. It is a high-class eatery that we vow to re-visit, preferably for an evening meal (when we are better dressed, too!) with which we can try their award-winning steaks and enviable wine selection.
Atmosphere: cool, dark, and comfortable
Food: 5 YUMs out of 5
Service: Polite and prompt.
Price: Moderate ($50 for 2 people)
Photos by Elise D. Parker