by Steven Doyle
The dining room is the first to make an impact on a guest the first time they visit Hattie’s located in Bishop Arts. Hattie’s is the anchor that consistently draws guests in both day and night for fantastic low-country cuisine, dishes that not only are found in Louisiana but circumnavigate the map eastward and up through the Carolinas. These are rich hearty dishes that are familiar but lend themselves to an upscale atmosphere.
Hattie’s has this charm where if it lacks enthusiasm it makes up for it in determination. The bright white breezy color scheme cries out for a mint julep and possible a hand fan, but totally unnecessary. Service is a key point. Our server Michael blended into the scenery with aplomb, yet instinctively anticipated our whims. Should I reach across the table and fill my wine glass, no bother. Michael appeared without distraction to take on the task. Should I order dessert? But of course, and our server knew what we wanted and we liked it. What a joy in the age of where less is more. Let me tell you, regardless where you may dine less is not more when it comes to amazing service. This is second nature at Hattie’s.
You will need to listen here and not make a mistake. Begin your dining experience with a cup of tomato bisque and grilled cheese. It is small enough not to fill you up, but the taste explosion will keep you smiling throughout your meal.
Those shrimp and grits are other worldly. If you are attempting this type of cuisine you must master a good plate of grits. As in the film My Cousin Vinny we know it takes a special human to make an excellent grit. The entire grit eating world knows this to be true, and our friends at Hattie’s conquer this with a lovely Tabasco-bacon pan sauce along with a quenelle of chevre that prop the masterfully crunchy and flavorful grilled shrimp.
At our particular luncheon we also enjoyed the perfect Caesar salad. Recently there was a conversation about the perfect Caesar in a chef forum and most admitted that the salad had taken a leave of absence from the table. It is sad to conceive that a serious restaurant would not use romaine, and use a “very good” bottled sauce. When you find a good version, it truly is a glorious day. You will need to remove the anchovies if that is not your thing, but they should be present. Yes, Hatties made a perfect Caesar from scratch. We added more grilled shrimp for good measure.
The luncheon halted at an impasse when it was necessary to decide on a dessert. We decided on several because, why not. A must taste is the fried pie, on our day it was made with peaches and a scoop of coconut ice cream on the side. A perfect pairing! The chocolate chess pie was a southern delight in itself. Smooth and creamy with a hint of buttermilk that made it a chess pie.