by Kara Kimbrough
Want to know what makes my day? It’s when I enjoy the food at a restaurant I’ve heard about for years but never took the time to check out. Usually it’s because I mistakenly felt it would not be to my liking. I was pleasantly surprised when I visited the Shivers Creek Fish House in the small Simpson County community of Pinola recently. I admire our state’s ability to raise and import fresh catfish, but the fried version is not my favorite dish. Because I’d heard the restaurant was known for catfish, I wasn’t in a hurry to dine there. My opinion changed after my visit. There are multiple reasons why.
First, upon walking in most restaurants and smelling the aroma of food, hunger pains hit. Having to wait for food to be delivered is not my favorite experience. The opposite happened when my friend and I sat down in the sprawling dining room at Shivers Fish House. Our waitress immediately delivered bowls of coleslaw, hushpuppies and greens. I’ve sampled all three at numerous seafood restaurants. These dishes were fresh, lightly seasoned, cooked without a lot of grease and some of the best I’ve ever tasted.
Like other thriving fish-centric restaurants that have found their niche, Shivers’ menu includes plenty of fried catfish, along with shrimp, oysters and salmon. Seafood can be prepared to your liking, including fried, blackened or, in the case of shrimp, boiled. Catfish plates range in price from $14.99 to $16.99 and my selection, fried (or blackened) shrimp plate, is $15.99 to $17.99. Fried oysters are $15.99 or $26.99 for two dozen. Additional seafood dishes include grilled salmon ($19.99) and crab cake dinner ($16.99).
In addition to seafood, friends have raved about Shivers’ steaks. I didn’t try one on my first visit, but the ones delivered to neighboring tables looked – and smelled – amazing. Selections include the 12 or 16-ounce ribeye ($26.99 to $27.99), 12-ounce ribeye and shrimp ($29.99) and for those with smaller appetites, hamburger steak ($14.99) served with gravy and onions.
Besides the three appetizers already delivered to the table, seafood can also be accompanied by several sides, ranging from baked potato, fries and salad. If any of these aren’t to your liking, a lineup of appetizers in the $7 to $8 range can be added to any meal. These included fried pickles, blooming onion, fried jalapeno poppers and cheesy bacon ranch fries, to name a few.
The word “fried” sends many health-conscious people into shock, but Shivers’ offerings are not heavily-breaded or greasy. It’s evident in the appearance and flavor of the main star – fried catfish –and the lightly-seasoned, crispy fried shrimp I enjoyed - the restaurant’s cooks are skilled at preparing and frying food.
Those looking for a lighter meal can sample a shrimp salad or chicken salad ($12 range) or a large and smaller dinner salad ($7 to $8 range). Also, grilled chicken dinners and baskets ($10.99 to $12.99), shrimp, oyster, fish or chicken po'boys ($13.99), cheeseburger ($9.99) and chicken and fish sandwiches ($7.99) are on the menu.
Shivers' dining options include take-out and socially-distanced dining in.
What: Shivers Creek Fish House
Where: 618 MS Highway 43, Pinola (between Magee and Hazlehurst)
When: Hours are 4:30 to 9 p.m. on Thursday and Saturday; 4:30 to 10 p.m. on Friday
Call: 601-847-1700 for more information or to place a take-out order.