by The Great Foodini

*RAW Oyster Bar – Government Street, Ocean Springs

One of the most fun things a food writer can do other than review a restaurant, which is frankly what we live for, is to judge food competitions.

Think about it, a dozen or so pit masters or what have you are trying their level best to win your taste buds over with a specialty of sorts.

The second most fun thing a food writer can do…besides the review is to be invited and attend, as a kind of a celebrity (not really), a soft opening of a new restaurant.

I was luckily enough to be recognized (pitied) by some friends for my culinary prowess and I received an invite to the new RAW oyster bar on Government Street in Ocean Springs. This brand new place is simply amazing.

For the uninitiated, a soft opening is basically a marketing night for a restaurant to work out the kinks & win over customers.

The very favorite thing on the menu is the baked avocado. This avocado is piled high with snow crab meat, masago aioli, spicy mayo, eel sauce while being adorned with green onions and little crunchy tempura flakes.

This culinary oasis also offers Poke Bowls, which are bowls filled with avocado, cucumber, seaweed salad, corn, edemame, jalapenos, furikake rice, drizzled with a sweet soy or ginger sauce. This bowl can be accompanied by shrimp, tuna, snow crab or tofu…or all of them.

One of the house specials that tasted like heaven was the grilled ginger salmon. It is a wild Atlantic salmon, simmered in teriyaki butter draped across wasabi mashed potatoes.

If you want to go complete decadent, I suggest the tails and reds platter, which is a perfectly steamed plate of two lobster tails, royal reds accompanied with drawn butter and cocktail sauce. The ultimate decadent dish here is the Franklin’s Tower of Seafood. Basically a pile of steamed seafood of snow crab, royal reds, chargrilled oysters, potatoes, corn, mushrooms, drizzled with drawn butter.

The oysters come in four house specialty styles…each one I tried became my favorite, only to be surpassed by the next. Everything here was delicious. The Hell in a basket wsa a fun oyster grilled with spicy chili butter, pepper jack cheese, pan-fried tasso, roasted diced jalapeno and sriracha. I also loved the Down on Bourbon St. BBQ oyster, which is drenched in NOLA BBQ butter, parmesan and parsley. The Stella Blue is good if you like a very earthy rosemary flavor.

All in all, this restaurant has so much potential to surpass all of its competition in the party district of Ocean Springs. I have full faith that they can hold on to all the enthusiasm, passion and energy that showed the other night…Great job guys. You rocked it.