Perla’s leisurely late lunch

Perla's Seafood & Oyster Bar outdoors, South CongressThis picture shows outdoor seating at Perla’s Seafood and Oyster Bar after 1 pm at lunchtime today. It’s shady there, and remarkably quiet. We, however, dined indoors, where the paint colors are subtle and watching fish in a giant aquarium seems more relaxing than observing the hurly-burly of South Congress. I thought that the people with children who chose Perla’s over Guero’s were being smart.

Little crunchy hush puppies made from coarse-ground meal came free to be snacked on while ordering decisions were made. Perla’s serves the best gazpacho I’ve enjoyed anywhere for a long, long time. It’s $6 and arrives in a large portion that’s worth every penny. All tomatoes served in any context today seemed to be home-grown. The oysters and the fish were very fresh and very tasty. The accompaniments to fish and seafood were great complements without in any way overpowering the main attractions. What seemed to be freshly grated horseradish was one of the condiments that came to the table. The hand-cut French fries are in shoestring form and a wonderful treat.

Mixed drinks from the bar weren’t tried, but as described they are novel and sound appealing. The desserts weren’t sampled today, either, but include blueberry shortcake, a homemade lemon ice, and more than one flavor of homemade ice cream. Port and sherry are available.

Many tables were ordering from the appetizers and then enjoying one of the popular items from the sandwich portion of the menu. We saw beautiful bouillabaisse and also a handsome plate of octopus.

The rooms benefit from pleasant natural light in the daytime. The sound was not overpowering. I discerned Smokey Robinson and Bob Dylan before I stopped paying attention. Don’t let this one get away, people! There’s real value here and no fooling around with “small plates.”

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