Sunday, June 14, 2009
Lil' Ray's in Long Beach
Last night the wife and I found ourselves on the Coast. We decided to stop at a staple of Gulf Coast cuisine "Lil' Ray's". The original Lil' Ray's was opened in Waveland in the 1970's and since then the family has opened other locations across the coast in Gulfport and Long Beach.
I've often stopped at Lil' Ray's Long Beach location while working on the coast and suggested that to the wife because we were visiting friends on the west side of the coast.
The decor is simple and what you would expect from a seafood/po-boy shop along the coast. The server was friendly, fast and efficient.
We started with an appetizer of smoked yellow fin tuna dip. The tuna dip was probably the highlight of the meal, it was fresh, seasoned very well, large helping of smoked tuna served over a bed of lettuce with fresh sliced tomato.
I ordered the fried Grouper (fish) po-boy with a side of fries. My wife ordered the half/half shrimp platter. That consisted of half an order of fried shrimp and half an order of grilled shrimp.
My Grouper sandwich met the expectations that I have for Lil' Ray's. The fish was fresh, flaky and fried to a golden brown. It was not over or under cooked. Served on a fresh bagget (they truck their bread in daily from New Orleans). The homemade tater sauce was a pleasant complement to the tasty grouper. The fries were very average and over-priced for what you get, in hindsight I should have gone with a cup of seafood gumbo or shrimp and corn bisque.
The shrimp platter was good, not great. The shrimp were fried in a flour and cornmeal dredge that was a little too thick for fresh shrimp. They were not bad, but average is about as high as I could rate them. The grilled shrimp on the other hand were much better. They were lightly seasoned with some cajun/creole seasonings and then grilled over the open flame just right. The potato salad served witht he platter was average at best, but the hush puppies were nice.
All in all it was a good meal. A bit on the pricey side with the total for two people being more than $40 for a pretty simple dinner, considering that the only beverages we had was sweet tea (very good sweet tea).
When most folks from the Hattiesburg/Laurel area travel down to the coast we end up eating in Gulfport or Biloxi and far too many times we end up eating at a chain you can get at home. I encourage everyone to venture to some of the smaller towns - Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Ocean Springs, D'Iberville and try some of the home-owned establishments.