There’s a new kid on the block near the Hollywood 20 movie theater: it’s the Half Shell Oyster House, and it has an enticing promotion to get you in to try its wares. From 3 to 6 p.m. daily, you can have oysters on the half shall, freshly shucked to order and served with cocktail sauce and horseradish for 50 cents each.
Not a fan of raw oysters? Any time the restaurant is open, which happens to be seven days a week starting at 11 a.m., you can order the oyster combo of three each of oysters: charbroiled, Bienville, Rockefeller and Orleans, for $17. There is a little something special in how they prepare each of these classics: a touch of cream cheese enhances the texture of the Rockefeller filling, for example. And the restaurant prepares its own blends of spices and herbs for all its dishes, oyster and otherwise.
The po-boy sandwich comes in three varieties: shrimp, Voodoo shrimp or oysters. They are all made on bread from New Orleans’ Gambino Bakery, a necessity for authenticity, according to Half Shell Oyster House owner and President Dino Miranda, and all are served with your choice of sides, including fried okra (Southern boys, take note!) and exceptionally crisp French fries. “Fully-dressed,” the po-boys come with lettuce, tomato and onion. The Voodoo sauce is a chutney-like sweet-and-sour condiment.
To start, Miranda suggests the oyster combo, followed by a cup of crab-and-shrimp gumbo made fresh in-house daily. His entrée recommendation is Polynesian mahi-mahi topped with homemade pineapple salsa, the entrée special for May. For dessert, his recommendation is house-made, cinnamon-roll bread pudding.
“Anybody can put whipped cream on bread pudding,” says Miranda, so he serves his with a Myers rum sauce.
Half Shell Oyster House is in the space long occupied by Zoria and then briefly by the Main Street Oyster Bar. Miranda describes its ambience as “polished casual” and says his goal is to put a lot of value in his pricing so as not to be just an occasion restaurant but one folks will visit frequently. Guest checks average $7 to $13 per person for lunch, $13 to $25 for dinner. The daily lunch combo is any two of a half po-boy, salad or a cup of soup, plus a hot or cold beverage for $9. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating and a private dining room that can accommodate 48.
The regular customers give the impression that Half Shell Oyster House will be around for a while. Take, for example, the octogenarian couple that comes in twice a week and orders three-dozen oysters; they eat 30 of them and take six home to fry for lunch the next day.
IF YOU GO
Half Shell Oyster House
Address: 1991 Main St.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Sunday brunch is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Half Shell Oyster House Bienville Topping
Yield: topping for 30-dozen oysters
Start to finish: 30 minutes
Note: This is a restaurant-sized recipe; adjust downward for amount you wish to prepare.
12 ounces butter
3 cups bacon, chopped
1/2 cup minced shallots
1 1/2 cups minced garlic
1 1/2 cup diced mushrooms
5 pounds chopped shrimp
2 cups chives, minced
2 cups milk
2 cups white wine
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
2 1/2 cups Italian bread crumbs
2 pounds lump crab meat
1 pound crab claw meat
• Sauté butter and bacon until browned in a large braising pan. (Hint: It’s easier to chop bacon when it is frozen.)
• Add shallots, garlic, shrimp and mushrooms, and sauté until shrimp turn pink.
• Add remaining ingredients, except the crab meat.
• Remove from heat, and then fold in the crab meat.
• Shuck oysters and broil to cook them. Spoon about one tablespoon of hot topping on each. Broil 3 to 4 minutes, until browned and bubbly. Serve immediately.