For their second act, the Creole food freaks and oyster lovers behind Eat: An Oyster Bar have brought their exploration of Big Easy cuisine to the heart of the Pearl District. Making its home in the building that used to house In Good Taste cooking school, the Parish feels like the elder sibling to its east-side counterpart. With French-blue walls, muted gray accents, and a weathered antique church pulpit serving as the host stand, the 4,000-square-foot space is bigger, brighter, and sleeker—as is the kitchen, where chef/owner Ethan Powell and his kitchen staff can finally stretch out and play around.
For the most part, Powell and co-owner Tobias Hogan have transported the highlights of Eat’s menu across the river: a daily selection of fresh oysters on the half shell, a seafood gumbo laden with Yaquina Bay oysters, and a spicy shrimp étouffée. Baked oysters—a vegetal, Parmesan-topped Rockefeller and a Bienville slathered in a decadent-beyond-words mushroom béchamel sauce—compete with roasted veal bone marrow for “richest dish.” On the lighter side, a grilled quail appetizer marinated in a sweet and spicy sauce offers small but succulent bites, while lower-brow favorites like the crispy soft-shell crab sandwich stake the middle ground with satisfying authority.
Hogan and Powell’s wholesale operation—now employed by the city’s favorite oyster destinations, from Paley’s Place to Bar Avignon—remains at Eat until the requisite red tape has been navigated, but farm-direct oysters are already available for retail sale at the Parish. Nearly a dozen seasonal offerings, dominated by regional favorites and rounded out by East Coast standouts, are never long out of the water.
With a solid daily happy hour and a fittingly indulgent weekend brunch menu, the Parish’s grand space may be just the right size.