By Cody Worsham
Tucked away on North Boulevard, just a short walk from Third Street, is a new gem of a restaurant – or, more appropriately, a pearl.
Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar is the city’s newest and coolest eatery, with an approach as simple as it is delicious.
“We wanted to focus just on oysters,” said Eric Carnegie, one of six owners with Jolie Pearl, “highlighting and showcasing them to Baton Rouge. We’re doing things no one in town is doing, and maybe no one in the United States.”
What they’re doing is fairly straightforward – taking one thing, and doing it really, really well. Carnegie estimated about 90% of the menu is oyster-based, with a few other Southern staples – their muffuletta, for example – thrown in for good measure.
But the emphasis is on the oyster, of which Jolie Pearl is bringing in varieties from across the country.
“We’re bringing them in from everywhere, from the West Coast to the East Cost,” said Carnegie. “Even from Canada.”
Though many Southerners are familiar with Gulf oysters, which grow in abundance in the area, far fewer have tasted oysters from the Northeast or the Pacific Northwest. There, oysters grow differently, due to varying water salinity and temperatures, and thus have completely different flavors.
“Oysters are just like wine,” Carnegie said. “They have different flavor profiles and textures. They’re not all salty. Some are sweet, even.”
The menu at Jolie Pearl reflects this variety, with raw selections divided geographically. You can get a Naked Roy from Washington, a Naked Cowboy from New York, or a Gulf Fresh, all sold by the dozen or half dozen. And if raw isn’t your thing, there are eight varieties of chargrilled and baked oysters, ranging in flavor from BBQ NOLA Style and Classic Chargrilled to Brie and Bacon and Rockefeller.
Jolie Pearl is the brainchild of Carnegie, Dana Brown, Derek Fitch, Trent Wilson, Rick Volland, and Scott Emonet, who all worked together to bring the city’s only full-service oyster bar from thought to reality. Despite the many hands on the project, Jolie Pearl’s creation featured almost no irritation.
“We’re all on the same page,” Brown said. “It all jived. This is everyone’s vision. The chemistry with our group is powerful.”
That chemistry is evident immediately upon entrance to Jolie Pearl, housed in the historic Jolie building. The owners maintained a nostalgic feel by keeping certain antique fixtures – like the one-of-a-kind roof – while updating and modernizing necessities like big screen televisions and two bar areas, one of which will serve as a self-design Bloody Mary station. There’s even an old-fashioned absinthe dripper and an absinthe-inspired series of cocktails, which pair with the oysters as appetizing aphrodisiacs.
Just as delicious as the fare, however, is the flavor Jolie Pearl brings to Downtown. It’s unique, it’s historic, and it’s culturally relevant, all facets the area continues to develop.
“We have an interest in seeing Downtown revitalized,” said Brown, who also works as an attorney at The Law Offices of Ossie Brown on St. Ferdinand Street. “It’s been dead for too long. So we’re keeping this place original, keeping the flavor of downtown.”
Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar, located at 311 North Blvd., opens at 11 a.m. They will officially celebrate their grand opening on Friday, Oct. 25. For more info, visit JolieOysterBar.com