Traditional meets nouveau cuisine at The Chimneys in Gulfport.
by Don Redman
Neatly nestled on a beautiful lot facing the Mississippi Sound, The Chimneys restaurant in Gulfport, Miss., offers some of the finest examples of Creole-style and contemporary seafood dishes you’ll find anywhere on the Mississippi Gulf Coast or in New Orleans.
Top: The views of the beach from the restaurant are superb.
Below: While The Chimneys has a different look, the food and service remain top-notch. The Chimneys photos
Recently resurrected from the wreckage wrought by Hurricane Katrina, the new restaurant architecturally is a far cry from its former self, a historic Queen Anne-style home. Today, it reflects a “Coastal-Acadian” design with an open veranda and magnificent vistas. Its openness is at once airy, yet intimate and cozy, with beautiful dark wood flooring, clean lines, and floor-to-ceiling windows offering a breathtaking view of the beach.
The Chimneys is a favorite among the locals for several reasons including an outstanding ambiance, stellar food, moderate prices, and a very courteous and attentive wait staff.
On the evening of my visit, my guest and I started our meal with soup. She had a seafood gumbo and I ordered the soup du jour, which was corn and crab bisque. The gumbo was not traditional; that’s to say it didn’t strike the familiar chords of either okra or filé, but it was nonetheless quite delightful. The corn and crab bisque was simply off-the-hook good. If it is on the menu, I cannot recommend highly enough that you order a cup.
Soup was followed by our main entrées. I ordered the stuffed flounder and was not disappointed. Traditional in its appearance and flavor reminiscent of the signature dish of the famed West End restaurants in New Orleans, my dish was delivered with a whole flounder stuffed with a delicious crabmeat dressing and topped with a Mornay sauce. A real Coastal classic cooked to perfection.
Prior to making my reservations for dinner at The Chimneys, I spoke with Dix Nord, matriarch of the family-owned restaurant, asking her for recommendations. Not surprisingly, she recommended everything on the menu and then offered this nugget of advice: “I recommend whatever the daily special is.”
My dinner companion took her up on that advice and ordered the day’s special entrée–a redfish fillet topped with crabmeat, andouille sausage, and mushrooms drizzled with a dreamy Cajun cream sauce. This brilliant dish that perfectly married the Mississippi Gulf Coast with the Cajun Coast was amazing.
“People take their food so seriously down here,” says co-owner Peter Nord. “You have to constantly be aware of trends and keep it fresh.”
For dessert, we kept it simple and traditional with a perfectly cooked crème brûlée and dark coffee. In all, it was a terrific evening, a mixture of the traditional and the new, all cast in a gorgeous, romantic setting.
The Chimneys Restaurant is located at 1640 E. Beach Blvd. in Gulfport. It’s open for lunch Tuesday–Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and dinner from 5–9 p.m. The Chimneys is closed on Mondays.
Their signature champagne brunch–featuring grits and grillades, trout and eggs Sardou and other Southern coastal classics–is offered Sundays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Reservations are not required but are highly recommended. The Chimneys can be contacted by phone at (228) 863-7604 and can be found online at www.chimneysrestaurant.com.
Don Redman is associate editor for AAA Southern Traveler magazine.