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Shuck me some oysters


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#1 serpentine

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Posted 17 December 2008 - 11:20 PM

Looking to gorge myself on raw oysters to celebrate my birthday, and my best friend and I intend to do this in the form of an afternoon oyster crawl. But I'm not sure who's got a good raw bar going these days. Since we're not planning on eating much beyond oysters, candidates for the list would ideally have a bar at which to dine, or at least not look askance at lunch diners who won't be ordering full lunches.

My former standby was Sansom Street (I never liked anything except for the raw bar there, but they did shuck a fine oyster for a reasonable price.) Obviously not an option now.

I've heard nothing but, um, issues regarding food & service at Coquette. But if someone can vouch for the quality and thinks they merit a spot on the tour, I'd go.

Of pricier places, any love for Brasserie Perrier? Oceannaire? XIX?

I plan to go to Smockey's, because despite living relatively nearby I haven't ever been. And it'll provide a contrast to the more upscale places. Is it good, or just cheap? Likewise, is Pearl's in RTM worth checking out?

Ansill and/or Southwark are both pretty much a given, since they're two of my favorite places anyway.

Thanks!

#2 KatieLoeb

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 01:07 AM

I think the Happy Hour oysters at Ansill are a bargain. If you could be patient, eventually the Sansom Street Oyster House space will be reopened under the ownership of the Mink family that originally brought it to fame. I live just a couple of blocks from Snockey's too, but it has always skeeved me a bit when I walked in. If you're braver than I am, please report back, but so far that place has only left me quaking in my boots. It just doesn't strike me as a place that's taking any care with the delicate needs of an oyster bar.

No info on Coquette other than to call in advance and make sure they'll be open when you intend to come in. I go by there every night on my way home and it seems to be closed earlier lately. I'd check on the hours before heading over.

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#3 mattohara

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 07:37 AM

XIX and Oceanaire both have great selections and the quality/freshness factor is very high but you'll find the price up there in the clouds as well.

I was impressed with the XIX plate of 12. four different varieties and four different accompaniments.

I've only been to Oceanaire a couple of times but I know their selection is huge.

The best course is probably to start at Ansill, as they will have only one variety (and the deal is at happy hour). Then you can check that off your list and try a few more at the next place. Maybe you could even call ahead to XIX to see what they have so you don't get them at Oceanaire.
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#4 Greg Ling

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 09:02 AM

I've been hitting up a few oyster places for the last few weeks and not much around. Devon was decent, Ansill only has the one oyster for happy hour. Couqette I wanted to try but closes early. The RTM place and Snockeys served me room temp oysters, kinda scary. If you know anywhere else let me knowplease.
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#5 Holly Moore

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 09:47 AM

Umm, Bookbinders?
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#6 sunra

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 02:14 PM

I will say that Matt Ito's Fuji, now in Haddonfield, NJ, has always had the best raw oysters in the area. He only serves the best, so if he is offering them, ENJOY!

I am curious about Oceanaire, but it sounds too good to be true.

Reminiscing and bit....

Not local, but when at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, I love to go to the oyster bar at the fairgrounds. Really large, mild tasting oysters, shucked to order for about $6 a dozen, or so. Also Casamentos is a must when in New Orleans.

The Johnson Oyster Farm in Point Reyes, CA.

Other favorites outside the area? Not to start a new thread, just a footnote for these replies....

Edited by sunra, 18 December 2008 - 02:16 PM.


#7 KatieLoeb

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 02:28 PM

...I will say that Matt Ito's Fuji, now in Haddonfield, NJ, has always had the best raw oysters in the area. He only serves the best, so if he is offering them, ENJOY!...

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Good call! Completely slipped my mind, but an excellent suggestion. Matt always has at least a couple of very good varieties of oysters (Hama Hama and Kumamotos the last time I remember) and prepares them beautifully...

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#8 zeffer81

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 03:44 PM

I just had some really plump and juicy ones at Sole Food as part of their shellfish appetizer. Go figure.

#9 serpentine

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 04:24 PM

(Katie, I can't wait until SSOH opens for this oyster crawl -- my birthday is Tuesday! Maybe next year. Or as soon as they open. Anyone know a time frame?)

I will report back on Snockey's. (And will sample the oysters cautiously.)

I hadn't thought about Bookbinders. Hmm. I wasn't blown away the one time I ate there after the renovation, but I wasn't looking for oysters then, either. I'll compare the selection and price at Bookbinders and Oceanaire and XIX.

Sheesh, I may have to hit Coquette just to prove the place isn't a collective hallucination. It's on the way anyway. Maybe I'll go there before we wrap things up at Ansill.

I would love a field trip to Fuji, but it's not going to work for this occasion. I know that there's no one like Matt Ito, but are there any sushi places in the city that I should put on my list?

#10 Chris Hennes

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 05:20 PM

I am curious about Oceanaire, but it sounds too good to be true.

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Not sure about "too good to be true": Oceanaire has very good oysters, at a very high price point. I've never eaten them at their bar, but I've ordered them as an app. Really wonderful.

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#11 Andrew Fenton

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 06:47 PM

Parc has oysters on the menu. I haven't tried them, though I imagine they'd be pretty decent quality.

#12 serpentine

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 09:18 PM

Oh, and zeffer, thanks for the tip. It's turning out that Sole Food is going to not be so much on the oyster route, I think. But I work right near there. After-work oyster-craving = score!

#13 kretch

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 10:38 PM

Haven't been there in years but shouldn't Seafood Unlimited at least have bluepoints at the bar? Can't imagine they'd be among the best oysters around but the price should be right...
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#14 mattohara

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 08:46 AM

I am curious about Oceanaire, but it sounds too good to be true.

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Not sure about "too good to be true": Oceanaire has very good oysters, at a very high price point. I've never eaten them at their bar, but I've ordered them as an app. Really wonderful.

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i don't get what would be "too good to be true" either. what? that they have oysters? that they have a huge selection? that they're fresh? i'm pretty sure those things are all true. and the price point is *not* too good to be true because...it's kinda pricey.

but then when you put XIX into the picture i don't think you'll find it that far off the mark.
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#15 serpentine

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 01:51 PM

Hey, can we get away from sunra's "Oceanaire too good to be true" comment and get back to me? ;)

Atmosphere/service of Oceanaire compared to XIX -- spill it, peoples, what's up? Is there rawbar seating or would we take a table? I've been to neither. It's going to be one or the other for the "luxe" portion of the crawl.

#16 sunra

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 08:25 PM

Let me clarify:

Nothing worse than overpriced, less than incredibly fresh and dull tasting oysters!

That is why I vote {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{FUJI}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}


I will be curious to read the report of this tasting. Price cannot be an issue when delving in to oysters, imho.

Atmosphere and service are very important to me. I will gladly open the money spigot if I can feel and taste the love in comfort.

Again {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Matt Ito}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

Edited by sunra, 19 December 2008 - 08:30 PM.


#17 chowfun

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Posted 21 December 2008 - 12:46 PM

I am curious about Oceanaire, but it sounds too good to be true.

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Not sure about "too good to be true": Oceanaire has very good oysters, at a very high price point. I've never eaten them at their bar, but I've ordered them as an app. Really wonderful.

View Post


i don't get what would be "too good to be true" either. what? that they have oysters? that they have a huge selection? that they're fresh? i'm pretty sure those things are all true. and the price point is *not* too good to be true because...it's kinda pricey.

but then when you put XIX into the picture i don't think you'll find it that far off the mark.

View Post

What I get is that this response is rude.

#18 Greg Salisbury

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 12:45 PM

Snockey's is excellent. They know their oysters, they know how to keep them ice cold with the liquor still in the shell, and they have really decent versions of the stews as well. I was last there over the summer, and the place looks the same as when I was a kid - a good thing for those of us who still lament the loss of 15th St. Bookbinders and Walt's.
And Oceanaire is a solid place to go as well. Yeah, it's a chain, and an expensive one at that, but if you sit in the bar so you can talk to the shuckers, they won't steer you wrong.
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#19 serpentine

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 12:33 AM

First, to allay the suspense: Snockey's was indeed excellent. Yeah, very old-school, unpretentious, unfancy joint. In the best way. Cold, fresh, beautiful, freshly-shucked oysters, shucker knows his stuff, nice variety on the menu. Ten minutes in, I was ashamed that I do not have an allotted day each week to enjoy Clammy Hour, and that I ever let a moment's snobbery keep me away. (The old-timers at the bar were charmingly old-timererific. When word got out at bar that it was my birthday, well, I could'a drank all night on their dime.) And the oysters are the best deal in town even before Clammy Hour. My gal-about-town and myself split a half-dozen bennies, a half-dozen peacocks, and had a couple of lagers.

Yeah, yeah, I hear Oceanaire has a nice raw bar, but I just couldn't do the chain with its cruise-ship vibe. For our one high-end joint, I'm very happy that I picked XIX. Faced with a choice of whole lot of oysters, many of which I was unfamiliar, the bartender took great care of us. And recommended me a Bourgogne Chardonnay that was just terrifically pitch-perfect to both my taste in wine and the oysters. We split a dozen oysters, two of each variety: Martha's Vineyard (MA), Quonset Point (RI), Lucky Lime (PEI), Northumberland (Solution Cove, Canada), Pickle Point (Hope River, Canada), Tatamagouche (Nova Scotia). They were brilliant. 'Nuff said. Class act. And the view! At sunset!

Last stop, Ansill. Happy Hour. Split a dozen of [notes illegible, not Cape May Salts, though] oysters with that perfect, perfect mignonette, accompanied by a glass of happy hour cava. Lovely, casual, great as always. I love Ansill, and relaxing on a quiet Tuesday in a favorite place slurping down a quick dozen was a fitting end to my oyster crawl.

#20 KatieLoeb

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 01:10 AM

Glad to hear Snockey's was worth the trip, it being all of a couple of blocks stumbling distance from my abode. In a further update, Coquette does indeed still seem to be open, despite rumors to the contrary I'd heard from one of my wine purveyors earlier in the week. It looked like there were a few tables of diners in there tonight as I passed by on my way home (early) from work.

XIX sounds worthy of a trip in the future. It's a gorgeous room with a gorgeous view. Add a cocktail or glass of wine and some oysters and I'll go out of my way to check it out on my next night off...

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#21 mattohara

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 09:20 AM

cool! glad it worked out well! and i'm also psyched about Snockey's. it's just a few blocks away from me as well so give a call some time Katie!
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#22 Holly Moore

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 09:38 AM

Maybe ten years ago, at Snockey's, I received the most antagonistic service I have ever encountered. As Greg pointed out, Snockey's is perhaps the only of the old seafood houses remaining, so I wish I could convince myself to return. Instead, I'll wait to see how the Mink family reincarnates the Sansom Street Oyster House.

Until then, all the more reason to return to New Orleans and Casamento's.
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#23 Alec Hart

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 12:27 PM

Where was Walt's? I was just talking with a friend about that place and we couldn't remember exactly where it was. That place and Aglio.

#24 Holly Moore

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 01:22 PM

Walts, may it some day return, was on 2nd Street, approaching Christian from South. Not sure of the exact block though I think of Walt's every time I pass the building.
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#25 KatieLoeb

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 02:30 PM

I think Walt's was in the space where the Lyon's Den bar is now, across from the 24/7 Mart. The 900(?) block of South 2nd Street, perhaps?

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#26 serpentine

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Posted 29 December 2008 - 11:09 AM

Coquette does indeed still seem to be open, despite rumors to the contrary I'd heard from one of my wine purveyors earlier in the week. It looked like there were a few tables of diners in there tonight as I passed by on my way home (early) from work.


Eh. Coquette not managing to keep regular hours and the constant rumors of its closing doesn't inspire much confidence in me. Particularly with something like raw oysters.

When we first walked into Snockey's, I thought we might get that perfunctory-at-best "you're not from 'round here" service. The guy behind the bar isn't the warm fuzzy type. But I had a nice chat w/the waitress when we walked back to look at the chalkboard of current oyster offerings, and she told us to go talk to the shucker if we had more questions. And the guy behind the bar warmed up to me once we started talking oysters.

#27 Rich Pawlak

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 01:45 AM

Snockey's totally ROCKS.

Used to slip over there after editorial meetings at STYLE magazine, whose offices are a few doors away, for some fried oysters and chowder. Simply old school fish house, like Kelly's of Mole St and Walt's. And worth a visit.

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#28 Greg Ling

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 05:54 AM

I went back to Snockeys and it was really good this time. Good oyster stew and the raw bar had great stuff too.

#29 serpentine

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 07:31 AM

I went back to Snockeys and it was really good this time. Good oyster stew and the raw bar had great stuff too.

Doing a little research? Way to keep some great news about SSOH under your hat! Congrats!

#30 HD73

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 07:36 AM

I went back to Snockeys and it was really good this time. Good oyster stew and the raw bar had great stuff too.

Doing a little research? Way to keep some great news about SSOH under your hat! Congrats!

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I'll second that! Can't wait until it opens back up.