One of the most inexplicable facts about our dining is this: we had never been to Barbara Jean’s before this stop on Saint Simons last month. The owner, Barbara Jean Barta, opened the restaurant in 1998 and has published a pair of popular cookbooks as well as two additional locations in northeast Florida, above and below Jacksonville. The restaurant is very well known for its crab cakes, and very simply blends the best of both local seafood and nice southern cuisine. I don’t know why we’ve never stopped in before, but we will definitely add it to our rotation of Saint Simons restaurants.
I was surprised to learn this restaurant is less than twenty years old. It looks and feels like something much older. Even the colorful, decorated plates look like they’re from the 1980s. Then again, the turnover of restaurants on the island is pretty eyepopping. Seventeen years in Saint Simons time is like three times that on the mainland.
We elected to have a small supper here, since it was still fairly early. We had a long drive back to Atlanta ahead of us, and if worse came to worse we could stop for a late meal somewhere. Marie and the girlchild shared a large order of fried shrimp with some really good lima beans. They are cooked with ham, as lima beans should be cooked. Now, you need to understand that the quality of the shrimp in coastal Georgia is always really high. These might not be the best we’ve ever had down there, but they are nevertheless honestly better than any of the island’s larger fried seafood barns.
That said, I enjoyed my own meal even more. How much more? On our fourth day of the trip, this was my favorite meal. Florida, you let me down. We visited some pretty good restaurants in the Sunshine State, but I had to come back home for the best one.
This shrimp salad sandwich was completely amazing. I absolutely loved it to bits, and I’m so happy that I felt like trying something that I don’t often order and picked the dirty rice. Good grief! That is the best dirty rice in the world. However they spice and season this stuff, they have nailed it. Whatever you order at Barbara Jean’s, whether their popular crab cakes or shrimp and grits or just a plate of sides, you need to get this dirty rice. It’s one of the most delicious treats on the whole island.
So yes, we were all really happy with the dinner here and intend to return on future visits to the island. To be strictly honest, other writers have shared some more mixed feelings about Barbara Jean’s, suggesting that the prices were a bit high and in some cases, like the she-crab soup, the portions were disappointing. You can check the links below for some other opinions. Happily, our own experience was very good, and we all left very pleased. We didn’t even feel the need to stop on the way home for some fries or something.
Other blog posts about Barbara Jean’s:
Do you enjoy classic adventure TV? I’m reliving some great shows from my own childhood with my four year-old son. Come join the fun at Fire-Breathing Dimetrodon Time!