We’ve been traveling to St. Simons Island since the mid 90s. My boss had a place on the island for several years back when we were young marrieds with young kids and he would let us stay there during the summer. Back then, Barbara Jean’s always seemed like such an upscale place, down in the village near the end of the pier.
We’ve eaten there several times over the years, so this evening when we were looking for a place to grab some seafood quick, we thought we’d give it a whirl. The first thing I thought as we walked in the door was how outdated it appeared. I didn’t remember it being like this. Reading the menu, it says they opened in 1998, but it appears much older. Maybe it’s the contractor grade lighting fixtures that give that an impression, but I think that they could use a facelift.
Blessedly, we didn’t have to wait. As I was perusing the menu, I was shocked by the overall lack of fresh seafood. Sure, they had crabcakes and fried shrimp (and tuna and salmon and catfish) but there didn’t seem to be anything fresh or local. There’s also quite a collection of southern food (steak and gravy, chicken-fried chicken, meatloaf, etc.)
Jo decided on the coconut fried shrimp with broccoli & rice casserole (with lots of cheese) and squash casserole (with lots more cheese). Her main comment about the meal was how sweet and how thick the batter was (the actual shrimp are about half the size you see in the picture). In fact, when the waiter asked if she wanted dessert she said she’d already had it – the shrimp.
I figured after the culinary misstep at Bella Bonna, I would try shrimp and grits again. I was excited that the veggie of the day was lima beans – one of the few veggies actually like – so I had those, along with red beans and rice. The shrimp were considerably heartier than those the night before and quite tasty. There were chunks of andouille sausage in the soup, which covered cheese grits and it made for an excellent dish. I pretty much cleaned the bowl.
The lima beans were cooked with small chunks of ham, giving them some Southern street cred. They were good. Of course, adding pork to most things does improve the taste. (I don’t think that comment applies to dessert, but I’d gladly be proven wrong.) And the red beans and rice were well prepared.
In a nutshell, the meal was very good. And reasonably priced, especially for at “the beach”. It just wasn’t in as fancy of a place as I remembered it to be.
On a side note, one of the strangest things of the road trip was that as we walked up underneath the giant sign to go to dinner, there was a man with a ferret on the leash. I didn’t know that people commonly walk their ferrets, but he had his out for a night on the town. Odd.