Courtney Santo, in addition to being the mom to two adorable kidlets, is the editor of the LampLighter and recently started Kids in Memphis, a website for urban parents. It's full of reviews of kid-friendly city spots and comprehensive lists of free events and attractions in Memphis.
Pearl’s Oyster House
299 S Main St
Pearl’s Oyster House is quickly emerging as a hot, hip lunch spot for urbanites in Memphis – how would it handle two toddlers for lunch on Saturday. I was a little nervous, but swayed by my husband’s yummy review of the oyster po’boy he’d had there earlier this month. Plus we were hosting my mother-in-law and I wanted to impress her with some Memphis good eats.
The restaurant gets good marks for easy parking and modern style. Too many of Memphis’ classic restaurants are clinging to that 1950s charm and worn atmosphere. Additionally, when we walked in, I noticed at least three other tables with children. The hostess cheerily greeted us and tried to get my son to give her a high-five. He is currently sporting a Mohawk and is irresistible to women between the ages of 19 and 25.
She set us up at a table for four with a highchair squeezed in between my husband and my mother-in-law (which was great because it removed any responsibility I might have in keeping him entertained). We also got a seat right next to the front window, which turned out to be a great trolley watching spot (entertaining for my four-year-old).
Our waitress popped right over and got our drink orders – bringing water in Styrofoam, lidded containers for the kidlets. There is a children’s menu with most of the classics – including fried shrimp. (I didn’t take notes, but I think the kids’ menu was $5.99). I was on the verge of ordering a kids meal to split when I saw that side dishes were only $2. The vegetable of the day was green beans with bacon, which seemed equal to French fries, so I went ahead and ordered a side of fries and a side of mac and cheese.
The adults got po’boys (oyster, catfish and half shrimp/half oyster). With sides of fries and hush puppies. Then we waited. To keep my four-year-old entertained, I produced a pen from my purse and told her it was okay to draw on the paper tablecloth. We took pictures with the camera. We talked about how much fun the Mud Island River Park was and listened to her say Mississippi over and over and over again.
Our waitress, sensing our distress offered to bring out the kids sides before the adult food. I nodded eagerly. She also took that moment to tell my husband that the kitchen was out of hushpuppies. Flummoxed, he ordered boiled potatoes.
The fries have a seasoned batter on them and at first I was worried the kidlets wouldn’t eat them, but they quickly devoured their respective portions. The mac and cheese was good, made from scratch and better than the mac and cheese at Central BBQ. I ate most of it.
The adult food arrived shortly and we ridiculed my husband for getting boiled potatoes, even though they came with a huge caldron of drawn butter. The sandwiches were excellent and huge. My fries were cold, but everything was still good.
It wasn’t a bargain – but it wasn’t a rip-off either. I think our check for three adults and two children was around $45. I was impressed by the service and friendly attitude of everyone toward the kidlets. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try Pearl’s for dinner, but it is a great place to go if you are downtown for lunch. And for Stacey – the bathrooms were easy to get to, nearly spotless and had changing tables.