My family and I started off the New Year with dinner at Hurricane Oyster Bar & Grill, January 1. I wasn’t sure what to expect—New Year’s Day can sometimes be a very relaxing and tranquil time to dine out, and I gave up on New Year’s Eve parties years ago.
It was business as usual, with families, couples, and out-of-towners all drifting in for drinks and a meal. The menu is the same all day, with the exception of some listed entrees available only after 5 PM, and 3-6 PM Happy Hour food and drinks specials.
Hurricane Bar & Grill occupies a single-story, slightly rambling beach house-style structure near the intersection of CR-283S and Scenic 30A. Entry takes you into an interior patio/common area. There are outdoor tables, a beanbag toss game, and benches. The restaurant’s entrance is decorated with brightly colored painted signs, colored lights, and blackboards listing daily specials.
Just inside is the bar/lounge, with booths on one side. Our hostess asked if we wanted to sit inside or outside; we chose the side patio. There is seating inside, in several rooms and dining areas. The decor is beach-eclectic, with wooden tables, booths and chairs, and hundreds of signed dollar-bills tacked to the walls and surfaces. Next to the patio where we sat was the oyster bar, manned by the busiest guy in the place—the oyster opener.
We arrived during Happy Hour, when oysters are sold at reduced rates—a dozen costs $2 less than the usual (market) price. There are also Happy Hour snacks—sliders, quesadillas, and empanadas. Buckets of peanuts in the shell are placed on every table, near the bottles of ketchup and hot sauces.
Our server Theressa took our drink orders, and my order for a dozen oysters in the shell, “Southern Traditional” style (cocktail sauce, horseradish, lemon, saltines).
Hurricane’s menu offers everything from bar snacks to full meals. There’s an impressive list of raw and baked oyster dishes. The raw includes Mexican (escabeche), Japanese (seaweed and ginger), Russian (horseradish cream and caviar), German (red cabbage and dill) and a “World Tour.” Baked options include toppings of Rockefeller (spinach and Pernod), Cajun (spicy), sherry bacon, pepper Jack with shrimp, picatta, Casino (garlic and andouille), crawfish tails, and jalapeño with bacon and cheddar. Grilled garlic and parmesan and steamed oysters are also available.
My wife and daughter had had a large lunch, so they passed on appetizers (neither eats raw oysters). I had my dozen to myself. The previous week I had eaten some five dozen oysters, purchased at a seafood market. It’s my Christmas treat, and this year’s harvest was an improvement over last year’s. My dozen at Hurricane were equally good—cold, plump (with one or two giants), salty and satisfying. Happy Hour price—$13, about as low as I have seen hereabouts.
For the main course, my daughter ordered a kids meal of mini-hamburgers, with fries and fresh fruit on the side, Other kid options are a six-ounce steak, chicken strips, popcorn shrimp, fish taco, fish basket, PB&J wrap, and cheese quesadilla.
My wife liked the look of the taco list, and ordered a combo platter—fried fish and blackened shrimp tacos, steak fajita, black bean and corn salsa and a basket of tortilla chips. I ordered from the after-5 PM menu—seared diver scallops with gouda cheese grits, sautéed spinach and artichokes, and sweet corn sauté.
The three tacos were well-stuffed. The fried fish was crunchy and moist, there was plenty of flavorful grilled steak, and the shrimp were good-sized and nicely spiced. I had to help finish the basket of chips.
I got five fat, sweet scallops, spiced and seared just to doneness. They perched on a mound of cooked spinach and tangy artichoke hearts, itself nestled in cheesy-rich grits. The corn sauté had a tomatoey base. It took time, but I ate it all.
Other menu options include: crab claws, wings, smoked tuna dip, BBQ shrimp, coconut shrimp, fried oyster nachos, nachos with “debris” (chili, cheese, jalapeños, etc.), jalapeño battered fried green tomatoes, soups (gumbo and the day’s special, lobster bisque), salads, po’boys, burgers, jerked chicken and grilled vegetable sandwiches, chimichangas, enchiladas, blackened lobster tacos, grilled shrimp, pan seared grouper, a Louisiana sampler, coconut curry shrimp, and a ribeye.
Dessert choices are key lime pie, chocolate cake, and a daily dessert. We couldn’t manage. After a quick game of bean bag toss, we retired. We will be back.
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