by Brian Lamar, Assignment Editor

A bit of sophistication is hidden in plain view on the main drag in downtown Bay St. Louis right outside of the hustle and bustle of the wild nightlife. The Thorny Oyster is a stark contrast to the uber beachy feel of the surrounding open-air restaurants. I am not great at describing decor or architecture, but if I had to take a stab at it, I would say it feels like a West-Coast polished Industrial Vibe. It is a nice comfortable open-air floor format with a view of the kitchen staff hard at work.

The first time I went, was at dinner. I tried the clams and chorizo dish. I have a strong word of caution here. You have to exercise diligent restraint with this dish. The clams and chorizo are wonderful with a mild heat to them, but the broth is the show stopper. The clams and chorizo are bathed in a smoked tomato, white bean and roasted pepper broth. The Thorny culinary team also makes fresh focaccia bread that accompanies this dish. They will bring you more if you ask…don’t. You will stuff yourself and have to be rolled to your car if you do. Once you start, you can’t stop. The combo of the focaccia and broth is a meal in itself.

Another unique menu item is the roasted bean marrow. I honestly don’t know how they prepare this and since I have never had it, I was a bit apprehensive of what I was getting myself into when trying it. When marrow is uncooked, it is easily mistaken as part of the bone, but when it is cooked, it takes on a soft and rich buttery texture and flavor with a sweet, nutty flavor. It is worth trying. You won’t be disappointed. It isn’t what I consider a hearty meal though, more of a delicacy.

I didn’t try them, but Thorny Oyster is one of the few places that serves lobster rolls. I will be going back to try them.

Even the raw oysters have a flair. The oysters have a mignonette sauce, which is less of a sauce and more of a condiment traditionally. It is made with minced shallots, cracked pepper and vinegar. Across the big pond, the French use mignonette to flavor certain broths and bases.

There are so many more items on this list. I was so excited to be able to review the Thorny Oyster. I typically wait for recommendations from people I trust who know their way around a menu, but I called and asked for the opportunity to review this place because I had heard that my favorite chef on the coast (sorry Jean Paul and Randy Smith) Lauren Joffrion moved over to be their Sous Chef from Field Steak and Oyster. Joffrion is a rising star. She is a true talent that the coast needs to keep close.

I recommend this restaurant for date nights and special occasions. This restaurant has a sophistication to it that you don’t typically find on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I am not in any way knocking the Secret Coast, but finding a menu with this much innovation crammed into it is a rare find, but I would expect nothing less than that from Chef Joffrion.

The ambition in this menu can usually only be found in the culinary capital of the U.S. ..the big easy.