How I feel about Shipp’s Harbour Grill is similar to The Time Traveler’s Wife movie, both had great potential but fell flat in execution. Let me explain.
Way back when in October we took a brief trip to Orange Beach, AL and had the chance to eat at Shipp’s Harbour Grill.
Having never heard of Shipp’s Harbour Grill, I turned to Urbanspoon for more information and grew uneasy from a couple reviews. A disgruntled bride and the owner have each posted counter claims, airing their grievances in regards to an event at the restaurant. It’s a modern day internet spar. Taking such instances with a grain of salt, we headed off to dinner on a Friday night.
For our large party we had a small room reserved off of the main dining areas, where tables had been pushed together to form a gigantic square. I felt like we were at a medieval council because there was enough room in the middle to place a roasted pig. Fittingly, the menus were as cumbersome in size as our seating arrangement, big enough for a giant.
We placed our drinks orders and waited. I believe only one waiter was assigned for our group of nine and he also had other tables. Needless to say, we enjoyed a lengthy meal.
To start we split a handful of appetizers and my husband and I selected the Jumbo Crab Cake. The crab cake was nicely seasoned and had a ample portion of crab meat. The peach chutney on the side was a bit too sweet and went mostly untouched.
Eventually we received bread, cinnamon honey butter and our salads. The warm bread did wonders for our impatience and the house tomato feta salad dressing was a welcome change from comeback or a plain vinaigrette, it was light and flavorful. Then our entrees began to trickle in, one or two at a time.
I chose the Gulf Coast Grouper which came accompanied by smoked Gouda mashed potatoes and haricot verts, lovingly garnished with a small, bright orchid. A massive piece of grouper was breaded, sauteed and blanketed with crab meat. I don’t say this too often but the fish could have benefitted from more Tasso Burre Blanc sauce. The dish was lukewarm, needed salt and the mashed potatoes lacked any flavor, never mind the smoked Gouda. Our entrees were delivered sporadically and some must have been sitting for awhile, evident by the soggy fish crust.
Reluctant to order dessert, we caved and split a Drunk Brownie between the table. Again, you really can’t go wrong with a homemade brownie topped with pecans, caramel, chocolate sauce and ice cream, unless it was drenched with Kaluha in one concentrated area. The alcohol was so strong I couldn’t eat it, but imagine the possibilities if the brownies were baked with Kaluha (like these) or the Kaluha had been incorporate into the chocolate sauce.
Similar to Shipp’s Harbour Grill, The Time Traveler’s Wife had the basics for a solid win. Eric Bana, Amy Adams, an unconventional love story surpassing an unique obstacle, and did I mention Eric Bana? It’s really too bad because after a few adjustments a mediocre meal could have been great, much like The Time Traveler’s Wife movie.
To no fault of his own, our waiter was running around doing the best he could but we sat for a very long time between each course. The entrees probably would have been fantastic if served hot and properly seasoned. Maybe it was an off night, or they were slammed, or hoard of their staff called in sick, but this was my experience.
Otherwise the seafood was fresh, the generous portions were fairly priced and they will cook your own catch if you bring it in. I’d advise trying to dine there on a slower week day. Oh, and read The Time Traveler’s Wife but skip the movie.
Shipp’s Harbour Grill
27842 Canal Road
Orange Beach, AL
One perk to living in Mississippi is leaving town.
Meaning, we are very close to New Orleans, the Gulf Coast and the beach. Yes, it’s one of those backhanded compliments like, “You drive so well, for being an Asian!” or “Those pants make you look so skinny!”. Take it for what it’s worth.
In October we took a weekend trip to Orange Beach, Alabama and ate lunch at Magnolia Blossom Cafe.
The route from Jackson to Orange Beach took us through Hattiesburg and Mobile, leaving long stretches of deserted highway between cities with few dining options other than fast food. We held out until Robertsdale and immediately pulled off highway 59 for the first decent looking restaurant in sight.
We darted across the road, walked into the cafe and made a beeline towards the lunch buffet.
Piling our plates high, I was thrilled to see fried chicken, greens, mashed potatoes, corn bread, rolls and a paltry salad bar. My husband was excited about the fried okra, butter beans and cabbage (he loves him some Southern vegetables). We snagged a table and the waitress brought us two glasses of tea, half-sweet half-unsweetened, the best of both worlds.
I’m fairly certain the gravy can from a jar and the mashed potatoes were instant. The beef pan was empty except for a few stringy remnants. Otherwise the fried chicken was juicy, the spicy cornbread had nice crust and the tea was fresh.
Passing up a second plate from the buffet, I chose to search out the dessert table and came back with a slice of homemade coconut cream pie. Apparently they also have a full service bakery and the desserts disappear fast.
Although the instant mashed potatoes were disappointing and the buffet options are limited, it was a decent, inexpensive meal. Proving to be popular place among the locals, they also have an extensive menu and are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Magnolia Blossom Cafe
22667 Highway 59 South
Robertsdale, AL 36567
Top 10 Signs of a Bad Cook: Chow
Number three is reassuring because no matter how carefully I cook, a huge mess amasses behind me Pigpen style. In the face of full disclosure (and Number six), I used to really like Rachael Ray.
I’d also add to the list:
11. Be wary if they don’t taste their food as they cook.
Anything else come to mind?
Perfect Iced Coffee: The Pioneer Woman
The South has stayed as 90 degree heat or higher for more days than I care to count. I adore an iced coffee but will eventually live on the street if I keep paying $4 a drink. This weekend I start concocting my own.
Cool Beans, How to ace iced coffee: Imbibe magazine
This article inspired the Pioneer Woman and is also worth the read. It compares methods and thoroughly convinced me that I need to be making iced coffee at home.
Is Louisiana Seafood Safe?: Serious Eats
I’m adding this article to the list to see if anyone else has thoughts and opinions, especially those from the area.
There are so many unknowns, which is basically how the article concludes. Oil and dispersant agents are bound to impact the water they were spilled in, but I’m all for eating locally, supporting local economy and still enjoy fresh seafood from the Gulf Coast.
I do find it interesting that the trip was “with” (sponsored?) the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board.
Rebecca Black’s “Friday” Is Back Just in Time for Friday – On Vevo-Branded Channel: Mashable
Double ha! Everyone needs to view this video at least once and it’s Friday (Friday, Friday, Friday…).
I have a good reason for that four day gap in posting. We took off for the second annual Hangout Music Festival and returned a little sandier, tanner and tired.
After the Gulf Coast took an oily beating last year, this music festival was created to boost tourism, local economy and restore the image of the beautiful area beaches. Basically it’s three full days of enjoying music, chilling on the sand with a crowd of 35,000 people.
The lineup wasn’t as diverse as the first year, but bands we saw were: The Black Keys, Foo Fighters, Paul Simon, Pretty Lights, Trombone Shorty and The Honey Island Swamp Band among many others.
Luckily we scored tickets off Craigslist at face value after the festival sold out. We camped at the Alabama Gulf State Park which is a convenient four mile bike ride (took less than 20 minutes) away from the fun. I even got to do yoga on the beach one morning.
Unlike Jazz Fest, there wasn’t much notable food except for a booth called “Asian Sensation”. I resisted making Ben taking my photo in front of it.
Hangout Music Festival
Gulf Shores, AL
As a spontaneous adventure, we headed even further South to Ship Island a couple weekends ago. We’ve been once before last fall, when we discovered Lil Rays.
We like to depart on the Saturday ferry at 9 a.m. and return on the 2 p.m., which is a total of four hours on the island. It gives you plenty of time to nap, swim, walk, eat a snack and explore the fort.
Unfortunately, I underestimated the power of the sun on a windy, cool day and forgot to slather sunscreen on my stomach. One week later and I’m shedding skin like a snake. Gross. Protect your skin!
Staying true to form we did some damage at Lil Rays and ordered a dozen oysters, a fully dressed shrimp po’boy and the red fish special. Ben slurped down 12 raw oysters all by himself. I would have jumped in, but oysters don’t like me and tend to not stay down.
We camped at the Big Biloxi campground, part of the Desoto National Forest, which was semi-expensive for a primitive camping space ($20), but very inexpensive when compared to a hotel.
The beaches are still clean, the seafood is still delicious and it’s still a wonderful getaway for those in the nearby area.
500 A Courthouse Rd
Gulfport, MS 39507