Sure it’s fun to order just what you want off of a restaurant’s menu but sometimes the camaraderie of a shared feast is what you’re really hungering for. That’s when a large format meal at one of Philadelphia’s best restaurants is what you have in mind. So gather up some friends and make reservations for these family-style dinners.
What was once a simple shucking contest and excuse to suck down a couple dozen oysters on a spring afternoon has, this year, become a full-bore indoor oyster carnival with this year’s Shuck Fest at Oyster House.
Scheduled for this Sunday, from noon to 4pm, Oyster House will host everything from the traditional shucking competition to oyster tutorials, oyster tastings with local growers, wine and beer pairings, shell crafts and games for the kids, photo booths and more.
On a recent unseasonably warm March afternoon, I stopped in to Sansom Street’s Oyster House to try out several of the restaurant’s new cocktails. Head bartender/bar manager Lindsey Krueger, a Franklin Mortgage and Village Whiskey vet has been at Oyster House for four years and has built up quite the selection of gins behind the bar, a collection that is put to good use in the latest Oyster House cocktail list.
Bartender Colin O’Neill, himself a Franklin Mortgage alum mixed up the cocktails as I sampled the day’s oysters, house-cured gravalax and decided to wear the delicious barbecue oysters.
It is the last weekend for Snockey’s Oyster and Crab House. The Philadelphia institution is closing after 103 years. Located at 1020 South 2nd Street for the past 40 years, the restaurant’s closing further shuts the door on the tradition of the Philadelphia oyster house.
Third generation owners, Ken and Skip Snock are both in their 60s and looking to step away from the business. The property has been for sale since late 2014.
In the 1870s, Philadelphians consumed 12 oysters a week and some 2,419 Philadelphia hotels, oyster houses, restaurants and saloons served oysters. And that’s not counting the roving peddlers and curbside stands. By the late 1950s, 95% of the Delaware Bay’s oysters had been wiped out by disease. With the dropoff in local oysters, oyster houses also faced extinction.
If you’re a fan of clambakes, crab boils and bargain oysters, now through Labor Day is your time to strike.
Tonight is Oyster House’s last Twin Lobster Dinner of the summer. That’s two one-pound Maine lobsters, corn and drawn butter for just $28.
On Thursday, August 27th, Brick and Mortar is hosting a family style lobster and clam bake. The feast is $55 per person in advance, $65 in person. There are two seatings (6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.) and beer from Nantucket’s Cisco Brewery will be included.
If you believe you are an oyster connoisseur, you can compete in Oyster House‘s sixth annual shucking contest and win a $100 gift certificate to the Sansom Street restaurant. Or you can pay five bucks and leave the shucking to the professionals, while you enjoy the fruits of their labor.
The annual shucking contest takes place Saturday, April 18 beginning at 2 pm at Oyster House (1516 Sansom Street). The $5 admission includes complimentary tastes of all the varieties of shucked oysters. Narragansett Lager and Del’s Shandy will be $3 for the 16 oz tallboy cans.
The first shucking competition will be for the professionals, competing for a $200 cash prize and the coveted oyster shell medal. Professional shuckers include Oyster House employees as well as employees from Pennsylvania 6, Juniper Commons, The Olde Bar and Ocean Prime. An amateur contest will follow and any prospective contestants can sign up the day of the event.
Oyster House [Official]
On Wednesday, March 25, Oyster House is offering free smoked shad sandwiches to the first 100 shad virgins through the door.
So why are they doing this? Owner Sam Mink remembers growing on the beloved seasonal fish.
“Shad has been a springtime feature at my family’s seafood restaurants since my grandfather began running Kelly’s on Mole Street back in 1947,” Mink said. “Today, I’m happy to carry on his legacy and introduce a new generation of shad fans to this under appreciated seasonal delicacy.”
Because why not? Valentine’s Day is a madhouse in the restaurant industry. The run-up? Nearly as bad. But if you’ve got a restaurant that makes its daily bread by selling oysters and the things that go along with oysters, why not kick things off early, right?
Which is why Oyster House is pre-gaming V-Day on Thursday, February 12, with their Shuck Buddies Happy Hour from 5pm-7pm.
Be Well Philly is taking the angle that Oyster House is hosting a 5K led by a giant lobster tomorrow. And while true, we here at Foobooz are much more excited about the $5 bowls of Oyster House chowder that will be served on the sidewalk in front of the Sansom Street restaurant, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Of course if you do want to run with a giant lobster up the Art Museum stairs and get your chowder and Narragansett Lager for free, check out Be Well for details.
Oyster House [Foobooz]