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The Oyster House


Holly Moore
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The oyster stew is the best I've ever had. Ever. An oyster house classic made even better by Chef Greg Ling - he uses double cream for the base and adds sauteed fennel. Perfection. Seriously, I'm not sure I'll be able to get past the oyster stew and sample the rest of the menu.

The renovation is total. They have recreated the oyster house of my mind's eye. Tile walls, marble counter, wood floors - the history of Philadelphia. The marble is from Independence Mall. The floors milled from the beams of the Academy of Music. The glass counter tops facing the front windows from Kelly's of Mole Street where the Mink family oyster house tradition began. Oyster Plates from the Mink's collection line the walls. Again, a classic.

Katie invited me to stop by. She is doing great things with the bar. I had a Rose's Lime-less gimlet made with homemade lime cordial. Visions of honeysuckle and wild raspberries are dancing through Katie's mind. Katie's version of fish house punch, renamed Oyster House punch, is a modern day classic. There's that word again. Classic. The cocktail sampling menu today - Negroni's, Side Cars, Gimlets, and Manhattans. Classics done extraordinarily well.

"Classics done extraordinarily well." That pretty much defines everything about the Oyster House.

The only thing not pinned down is the opening date.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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:laugh: OK already! Here's a draft of the opening cocktail menu...

Blonde Caesar - our house Bloody Mary with heirloom yellow tomato juice, clam juice, classic bloody mary seasonings (Tabasco, horseradish, Worcestershire, fresh lemon juice, celery salt), garnshed with seasonal pickled vegetable. Right now were garnishing with house pickled ramps.

Bluecoat martini - Bluecoat, Noilly Prat, orange bitters, lemon twist

Classic Manhattan - Bulleit bourbon, sweet vermouth, Angostura and Whiskey Barrel aged bitters, brandied cherries.

Fresh gimlets - Vodka or Gin, Lemon or Lime with housemade cordials.

Old Fashioned - muddled orange and brandied cherries with my OF mix (simple syrup infused with orange peels, Angostura, Whiskey Barrel bitters, Cointreau), Ezra Brooks bourbon.

Sidecar and Negroni - no explanation necessary, I hope.

Oyster House Punch - Gosling's rum, St. Remy VSOP, apricot brandy, tea, fresh lemon juice, spiced simple syrup

Martini au Poire - my version of a French martini. Absolut pear, Lillet, splash St. Germain, orange twist.

Off menu, but available:

House Sazerac - Rittenhouse bonded rye, simple and Peychaud bitters in a Vieux Carre absinthe rinsed glass.

Pretty straightforward stuff. But made with care and precision. Hopefully will please the old school folks as well as create a few converts to old school. During staff training a few folks said they were surprised to find they liked their "Grandpop's favorite cocktail". I take that as a compliment... :biggrin:

A few spirits have yet to arrive, worthy substututions have been made. We're definitely ready to rock any day now. I'll post an opening date as soon as it's etched in stone...

Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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She Who Must Be Obeyed and I enjoyed Greg, Katie and Sam's hospitality at the first test service Monday, and it turned out to be a wonderful meal and early dinner.

First of all, Katie truly is a wizard of waterless wetting agents. SWMBO, a sucker for anything with apricot brandy, totally adored that punch, finishing every last drop, which is a rare occurence these days in her usual light consumption of alcohol. I did the same with the Blonde Caesar which tasted both fresh and briny, thanks to the tomatoes and clams, respectively.

On every table is a welcome throwback to Kelly's of Mole Street and every other Philadelphia fish house of the past: Old Trenton Crackers filling a giant goblet with a horseradish container on the side. The goblets, I'm sure, are from the same stock as at the original Oyster house.

The oyster stew wasn't on the menu Monday, but a nice range of oysters was. I went for one of my favs, Daramiscotta Pemaquids, cold, briny and minerally. They were expertly shucked and brought to table with little or no loss of liquor. Five of the six seemed to have their full complement of juicy stuff, and the sixth still had some, too. Absolutely no sign of broken shell in the oyster. I could have had a dozen and a half. I consumed half the oysters unadorned, the rest with just a touch of the classic mignoette. I didnt try the cocktail sauce, though I should have tested it with one of the OTCs.

Next I ordered the grilled Portuguese sardines served with extraordinarily good pre-season tomatoes aboard two slices of baguette. The boneless butterflied sardines came through with flying flavors intact.

SWMBO, saving room for dessert and not being a total seafood fanatic like me, skipped the starter and ordered the grilled sea bream (filet) for her main. She enjoyed the fish, but the skordalia upon which the porgy sat arrived cold: not room temperature, cold. I'm sure that has been rectified.

I was hard pressed to choose between the roasted halibut with mussels and the soft shell crab, but went for the latter to test the kitchen's pan frying skills. It was expertly done, was accompanied by a New American succotash: corn, peas and some unidentified member of the onion family. It all worked very well together. We also had an order of the shoestring fries. Shoestrings aren't my favorite variety, I prefer them thicker. They were tasty if just a tad less crisp than we like.

Everything, btw, was beautifully but straightforwardly-plated, with little in the way of frou-frou. Our server kept us informed of the progress of one course (dessert) that was, pardon the pun, a trifle delayed. He also let us know when he'd be bringing out SWMBO's food, since she didn't order any starters, to make sure that would be okay. We both thoroughly enjoyed our desserts. My rhubarb strawberry compote was a simple but satisfying seasonal sweet au gratin topped with vanilla ice cream, with just enough sugar to balance the tartness. SWMBO was ecstatic over her slightly overbaked lemon curd cupcake, topped with a poppyseed cream of some sort. Lemon and poppyseed is one of the few combinations that can divert her attention from chocolate. The curd in the center was bright and fresh. It made her think Twinkies should be filled with the stuff.

The room is as Holly described, and the plates were one of the first thing I noticed after the stunning bar. The wall between the two old dining rooms has been removed to create a more open space, but the wainscotting has been retained, albeit repainted to a lighter color to avoid a musty, clubby feel. And, there's now a WC on the main floor, so you don't have to descend the stairs to the basement (unless you want to). My only curmudgeonly critique of the ambiance is the noise levels, even with the space only half-filled.

I look forward to trying the full menu, eating more oysters. Based on the limited menu Monday, the fish seems to be updated in the New American style, while Greg and his kitchen staff retain respect for the star ingredient. I love that approach, but also hope the menu will include a few traditional classics, like snapper soup, maybe fried Ipswich clams. Certainly even a simple but exceedingly fresh grilled or fried flounder would be appreciated.

I would have been pleased with the food, drinks, service and decor if the place had been operating for a year. I'm astounded by how well the entire staff did given it was their first service under the gun.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Aw shucks! :biggrin: Thanks, Bob. :wub: It was a true pleasure to share our hospitality with both you and Holly. I hope everyone is as excited about the opening as we are!

For both last night and tonight's training sessions, only select menu items were available each night. Both the fried Ipswitch belly clams and the Snapper soup you've inquired after, as well as Rich Pawlak's beloved Fried Oysters and Chicken Salad are on the regular menu, which will be printed in house before every lunch and dinner service. And of course, a simple piece of broiled or grilled fish can always be accomodated, whether it is on the menu that day or not. We aims to please. :smile:

For a better look at the regular menu (and a little peek at the interior of the restaurant), you can check Michael Klein's Insider blog entry HERE.

Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Katie, this looks terrific. I'm particularly interested in your Blonde Caesar -- my mom will appreciate your release of the recipe -- and the punch. You've done a great job of matching venue to cocktail, it's clear.

Tell a little bit about your choices. Why a Negroni -- and what are the non-Campari components you'll use? What apricot brandy? And any specials or themes?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Oh, to be among the chosen few!

Rich:

You are always amongst the chosen few. Just let me know you're available. I know how hard it is to get away...

I'll PM you my schedule.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Greatly appreciated as always. And lately I've just learned to bring the kids along on food adventures.. They eat almost anything, I swear.

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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Chris:

The Negroni is actually one of our friendly proprietor's favorites, so having that on the short list of classics was a no brainer. We're using Laird's as our house gin for the gimlets and the Negroni and I'm using Boissiere sweet vermouth as the well. Carpano Antica will be available for an upcharge shortly.

The Blonde Caesar was just a slight twist on both the name and recipe for a Bloody Caesar that's normally made with Clamato. Seemed a natural for an oyster bar. Since I have this glorious heirloom yellow tomato juice coming from our farmer, I couldn't resist making the house Bloody with it just to be a bit different. The yellow tomato juice looks like sunshine in the glass. It's gorgeous, and so sweet and delicious I can't really screw it up. It's accidental genius of the best sort.

I'll email you my recipe cards for your mom when I get home from work...It's opening night and there's much to be done... :smile:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Chris:

The Negroni is actually one of our friendly proprietor's favorites, so having that on the short list of classics was a no brainer.  We're using Laird's as our house gin for the gimlets and the Negroni and I'm using Boissiere sweet vermouth as the well.  Carpano Antica will be available for an upcharge shortly.

The Blonde Caesar was just a slight twist on both the name and recipe for a Bloody Caesar that's normally made with Clamato.  Seemed a natural for an oyster bar.  Since I have this glorious heirloom yellow tomato juice coming from our farmer, I couldn't resist making the house Bloody with it just to be a bit different. The yellow tomato juice looks like sunshine in the glass.  It's gorgeous, and so sweet and delicious I can't really screw it up.  It's accidental genius of the best sort.

I'll email you my recipe cards for your mom when I get home from work...It's opening night and there's much to be done... :smile:

Shout out to Glenn Brendle

"..French Vanilla, Butter Pecan, Chocolate Deluxe, even Caramel sundaes is getting touched.." Ice Cream

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Daily Candy on the Oyster House re-opening

The pear martini has a delicate, light floral taste and is extremely easy to drink.

The punch has just the exact right balance of liquor (strong enough that you can taste it) and spice (cinnamon?) and citrus. I'd buy it by the gallon.

The oyster shooters we had (mine was horseradishy and hers was gin/cucumbery) were awesome, but I think could benefit from having smaller oysters! Gigamoto or Kumamoto maybe. The ones we had were not huge but when you're shooting a shot and then trying to chew down the oyster too it's a little overwhelming. Then again perhaps I just need more practice...there's still 4 or 5 types of shots I didn't try that all sounded delicious. And horseradish fans don't worry, there's plenty in this shot!

Sometimes I order things that I don't like, knowing that I probably won't like them. I don't like omelettes, for some reason, but sometimes I order one anyway. I don't like Bloody Marys, but I ordered the Blond Caesar anyway. It's similar to a Bloody Mary, but made with heirloom green tomato juice, I think, and something else different. I passed it over to Karen, after fishing out the awesome pickled ramp, and she assured me it was tops.

I also had a lime vodka gimlet. Awesome, straightforward, delicious. You have to get one of these if you haven't tasted Katie's cordials before. It's clear and crisp, very refreshing, and highlights the cordial, not a bunch of extraneous stuff.

The interior is like a more modern version of Schiller's Liquor Bar in NYC. It has that white tile feel but mixed with more modern finishings. Really cool.

--

matt o'hara

finding philly

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Made it in for a few bites last night too. I'll try to post some pics when I have a chance, but in the interim:

here's a post on my blog>>

The short version is that everything was good, they were amazingly up-to-speed for opening night, and I look forward to heading back to try more!

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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My buddy Collin Flatt of Phoodie.info stopped by for a sampling of the oyster shooters. The results of his shooter adventure are documented in this short blog entry Oyster House Six Shooter. I particularly like the photo of his exhausted self at the end, after dutifully taking one for the team in the name of research. Intrepid lad, that Collin... :biggrin:

Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Katie, we missed you last night, but had a classic martini and a au poire martini respectively and they both rocked. I also had the London shooter and loved it.

If you go for nothing else, the crackers at the Oyster House rock.

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Luigi:

I'll be behind the bar Thurs-Sat. evenings this week. I'd be more than happy to accommodate your thirst for a Negroni. I can only hope it's as good as it is in Turin. I promise I'm using good ingredients. The scenery may not be the same, but the drink ought to measure up. :smile:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Can folks help me out with the Philadelphia/Penna tradition of the big goblet of crackers and horseradish-

History?

How/when are you supposed to eat them etc?

First time I saw them was when we moved to PA, never up in Mass, I'm at a loss!

(and hoping to go to the OH tomorrow night- whee!)

<a href='http://retroroadmap.com' target='_blank'>Retro Roadmap - All the Retro, Vintage and Cool Old places worth visiting!</a>

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The crackers found hereabouts are traditionally O.T.C. oyster crackers as manufactured by the Original Cracker Company in Trenton.

The brand is now owned by Speciality Brands of America From their site:

What sets apart O.T.C's ® from any other oyster cracker is their firm texture. The secret of O.T.C's ® lies in the time consuming preparation and baking. The dough is given hours to rise naturally. Then it is kneaded and layered over and over. The crackers are stamped in rounded form and baked very slowly. So you get crackers that are crisp and crunchy all the way through.

I would not muck up the Oyster House's oyster stew with them. Rather they are great to nibble with a smear of horseradish while sitting at the bar, sipping a beer or cocktail and to tide you over until the shucked oysters arrive.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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So I'm a little late in making my post as I went for the Tuesday June 2nd soft opening with Green Meadow Farmers Glenn and Ian Brendle. Due to Glenn's injuries from a vehicle accident and love for raw oysters we opted to sit at the Oyster Bar which was quite comfortable and provided a great vantage point to take in the entire restaurant.

I started with a Gimlet and Ian with a Manhattan but with Katie behind the bar making cordials from scratch how could you go wrong!

Glenn found it easy to make his selections Oysters which he was estatic with and I can't blame him. They were fresh and juicy and the mignonette was a perfect for my taste.

I had the rock shrimp which were golden brown and delicous and a remoulade that accompanied perfectly.

Ian the soft-shell clams which I was lucky enough to get one of. What a tender delicious morsel it was. I would've done parlor tricks for a second but no luck with that!

Glenn also couldn't resist ordering the snapper soup one of his all time favorites. So much so he is on the snapper soup call list of a local restaurant that serves it periodically. As memories of snapper soup danced through his head, unfortunately mine were not the same. Reminicing of the snapper soups of my past and not at all thinking this is Greg Ling, I dreaded the arrival of the thick, gloppy, bland snapper soups of my past.

Such was not the case! Upon arrival, this soup not only looked different, the aroma was amazing enough for me to HAVE to try it. Glenn on the other hand, was apprehensive, it wasn't in the realm of his norm. He was sure he wasn't going to like it. Once again, not the case. Not only did he like it, he loved it and so did I! It is true that you can't judge a dish until it is properly prepared.

Kudos to you Greg for making me a fan!

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Is the Oyster House now open and taking dinner reservations?

Open for dinner, yes; word from the hostess tonight was that they are only taking reservations for 6 or more (at this time.)

Going tomorrow, can't wait.

Edited by jm chen (log)

Cooking and writing and writing about cooking at the SIMMER blog

Pop culture commentary at Intrepid Media

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