If you love oysters, Seattle has a variety of ways to enjoy. Here are some of the best events to look for throughout the oyster season...
Flying Fish's All You Can Eat Oyster Frenzy generally happens in October/November every fall.
Frank's Oyster House is, obviously, a place for oysters all the time, but has offered a Bubbles and Bivalves event in November. Look for it!
Perhaps the biggest oyster event of the year is Oyster New Year at Eliott's Oyster Year. I always have a great time at this event. It's an all-you-can-eat oyster extravaganza with the added bonus of samples from Washington wineries, desserts and other seafood dishes. And an oyster luge!
Even without getting to oyster New Year, you can still enjoy freshly-shucked oysters at Elliott's, with the best deal being their Monday through Friday progressive happy hour from 3-6pm. Oysters start at $1 at 3pm, go to $1.50 at 4pm and then $2 for the final hour at 5pm. Enjoy other bar snacks and cocktails also at happy hours prices.
For some of my picks for non-event/anytime oyster enjoying...Westward is a great stop to enjoy oysters and cocktails out by their firepit. The oysters are excellent, and I like the "Ship Happens" cocktail (gin, juniper syrup, cocchi americano, lemon, rose water). They have other delicious snacks too (fried chickpeas, pickled vegetables), but I do wish they'd make more of their menu available outside (with the firepit and their blankets, it seems possible dine al fresco even into the cooler days of fall). But if your goal is oysters, you can't beat enjoying them with this view.
And, of course, there is always the chance to enjoy oysters direct from the source at Taylor Shellfish at Melrose Market. Eat in there (and pair with the oyster wines they have in stock) or take home for your own shucking party.
An oyster ancedote: in Fall of 2013, my friend Heather, visiting from Paris, and I had the treat of oysters with Jon Rowley at Taylor. Jon is the guy behind the Oyster Wine competition and general lifetime member of the Food Establishment. Like many Seattle food world connections, Jon and I first "met" via Twitter, and when he mentioned there that he was going to be eating oysters in Paris, I sent him Heather's website or something like that.
Some additional messages were exchanged, and eventually, even before he and I had met IRL, he wound up meeting up with Heather for oysters at the winter markets.
So now, when Heather has visited me in Seattle, we've tried to connect with Jon for oysters. In 2011, we had them at a cider pressing, and this year, it was at Taylor.
We tried four different varieties and here were my tasting notes, clockwise from top left. Totten inlet - cucumbery; Olympia - radishy, zippy, flavorful; Shigoku - purest sea taste; Virginica - buttery, salty. All were delicious. I started out the tasting noting that I am not personally a rabid oyster fan (I enjoy, but easily get my fill), but after demolishing a good portion of our trays, it's possible I might have caught the fever.
We enjoyed with the Cedargreen Sauvignon Blanc, a winner in the Oyster Wine Competition, and it was, indeed, a perfect match for the wines.
I recognize there is a risk of seeming name-droppy when you write about something like this, especially when I compound that by noting Ruth Reichl was treated to a similar outing with Jon just a couple days later. But to me, I hope this instead illustrates the positive elements of the small town nature of Seattle.
I had no entrée to meeting a food world notable like Jon other than the website (Fresh-Picked Seattle) I just made up myself and a twitter account. And Jon is the kind of food person who's open to meeting up with friends or potential friends around oysters, whether it's Ruth Reichl or the Parisian pal of some random Seattle lady-with-a-website.
Maybe that isn't an anecdotal aside, come to think of it. Maybe it's anecdotal evidence for the theory of oysters as inherently social, convivial food. It seems unlikely that oysters would be the food of choice for a sad solo home alone meal. Oysters tend to bring people together; oysters start a party.
Residents of Seattle know that we are starting to enter the months where the urge to nest becomes strongest. When it's gray and rainy (or, as the case has been in the past week, foggy), it can be difficult to motivate to get out and meet up with people. So it's especially helpful that this is the season for oysters. If you feel like you need to shake yourself out of a tendency towards fall hermitdom, maybe make a plan for a happy hour and use the power of the oyster to spread a little convivial cheer!