Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Elliot's Oyster House

After almost two years of living in Seattle, I still consider Elliot's Oyster House's happy hour to be the best in Seattle. Elliot's is great for a lot of other reasons, but when it comes down to it, their awesomeness stems from the fact that they let you get away with eating oysters at 50 cents a piece.

The first thing you see when you walk into Elliot's is their beautiful display of oysters, mainly from the Pacific. If you've ever wanted to compare what different species of oysters look like in real life, this is the place to do it.

To your left you'll see Elliot's wall of alcohol, their happy hour designated seating, and regular dining tables in the back. The space is minimal, open, and beautiful with large windows showcasing the Puget Sound, making Elliot's cozy on rainy days and bright on sunny days. There's also a great outdoor seating area for those beautiful, summer days.

Some people opt to have champagne or white wine with their oysters.

I prefer to have a tall, frosted glass of beer.

But please, do yourself a favor and never order the Pepper Vodka Oyster Shooter. Somehow, you'll try to convince yourself that this would be a fun idea, but don't waste your time, money, or tears on this one. It's gross, and it leaves your palate confused. The oyster in it is still delicious though.

You also get the option of having some rotating happy hour food with your oysters. If you're looking for this mid-afternoon happy hour to tide you over through dinner, then go ahead and order a few. None of the happy hour food stands out as amazing, but they're all delicious. The Rockfish Taco is always on the menu, and every time I get it, the fish is perfectly cooked and the salsa is regrettably bland. Still, it's worth ordering to get a sample of their ability to cook great fish.

They don't have this Sesame Crusted Seared Tuna all the time, but if it's on the menu, it's also worth getting. The sweet mango balances really well with the bed of cucumber, and this dish is especially delicious if you take the time to add a little bit of salt and some citric acidity to it.

The Steamed Mussels are generous, bright, and finger-lickin' fresh. I expected nothing less from a place with such stellar oysters.

The Calamari is surprisingly light and sometimes very crispy. Some people just need their fix of calamari at seafood joints, and those people shouldn't hesitate to get some here.

The only bad experience I've had with their happy hour food is their Seafood Ceviche. The unfocused medley of seafood and veggies arrives doused in an excessive amount of lime and lemon juice. It's enough to make your tongue bleed. I haven't seen it on the menu after the first time I tried it, so maybe they're reworking this one.

And then there are the oysters. Elliot's progressive happy hour starts at 3:00pm and ends at 6:00pm. At 3:00pm, you can order oysters for 50 cents each. The idea is that every half hour, the price bumps up 25 cents. This means that even if you get there at 5:30pm, you get oysters at $1.75 a piece, which is still a steal when it comes to Elliot's level of freshness. But the best time to come is for the 50 cent price, and sometimes it feels like everyone else in Seattle knows it too.

I've found that the best way to approach this happy hour is to arrive at 2:30pm or 2:45pm. Getting there early ensures seating at 3:00pm. I've gotten there right at 3:00pm plenty of times, and while some times I've been lucky enough to grab a seat by 3:25pm, why take the risk? Also, Fridays are always the toughest to grab a seat within a reasonable hour, so if you have the luxury of getting off work early or being free at 3:00pm on any other weekday, avoid Fridays.

Once you get a seat and place your first order of, say, three dozen oysters, you can't help but be all smiles for the rest of the day. I've mentioned this before, but these oysters are legit. They'll let you know what kind of oysters you're eating, but more often than not, they've been Kumamoto Oysters or Quillbay Quenchers. They serve what they have the most of, but every oyster I've had here has been fresh and delicious.

Oysters come out with their version of a mignonette, packed with a frozen mix of peppercorn, vinegar, lemon, champagne, and onion. I like to have my oysters straight with no distractions, but I will admit that a tiny bit of their addictive Champagne Mignonette Ice adds a refreshing, salty, and acidic depth to the bivalve.

And while I do appreciate the low happy hour prices at Elliot's, I can never leave without ordering up a few Kusshi Oysters. Elliot's introduced me to this oyster, and I've been a fan ever since. This variety falls less on the metallic side of the spectrum of oyster flavors, and more on the briny side. Its smooth, clean, and refreshing qualities keep me coming back for more.

I've also had the chance to eat here for a regular meal, and just like their oysters, everything was generally delicious and fresh.

The meal started off with the Canadian Pacific Sampler, a great way to try out a few different oysters and compare their flavors right next to each other. This sampler showcased two Chef's Creek oysters, two Fanny Bay oysters, and two Kusshi oysters. All delicious. No surprise there.

The meal progressed from fresh oysters to baked. The Blue Cheese Oysters had the perfect amount of blue cheese baked onto bread crumbs and fully maintained the presence of the oyster. Filling, yet surprisingly light.

The Oysters Rockefeller were even better. The recipe marries the flavors of bacon, spinach, and Pernod, all topped with a creamy and savory hollandaise sauce. I preferred this one over the Blue Cheese Oysters. I usually don't get baked oysters because I feel like most preparations kill the freshness of the oyster, but these were exceptional.

The Alaskan King Crab Turnover came out a little cold, but the separate flavors were still great. I was expecting it to have a heavier crab taste, but it was overpowered by the roasted flavors of the corn cream and red pepper sauces. Everything on the plate was good, but mixed together they became a pretty mushy mix of flavors.

The Spicy Crab is a great dish to get for a group of people at the table. It's one of their house specialties, and comes smothered in what tastes like a cleaner and less oily version of a Chinese chili sauce. But be wary that even though you get a bib, your hands will be covered in the chili sauce. Thankfully, they provide a bowl of lemon water to get rid of the stink and the gunk.

The Spicy Crab comes with perfectly fluffy mashed potatoes and deliciously roasted string beans.

If you're looking for some great seafood to complement a celebration, don't hesitate to go to Elliot's. Prices can stack up pretty quickly, but the quality of the seafood comes through with each bite and you never feel like you're getting entirely ripped off. If you're looking for a steal when it comes to Seattle happy hours, get over to Elliot's and indulge yourself with dozens upon dozens of oysters.

In the end, if you find yourself at Elliot's for any reason, you should doing a lot of this.

And this.

And just in case you haven't heard me say this before: Elliot's will always be an Oy-Star in my book.

Elliot's Oyster House
1201 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 623-4340

GET: Happy Hour Oysters; Kusshi Oysters; Oyster Samplers; Oysters Rockefeller.


  1. Ohhhh those Quenchers and Kusshis were excellent. Real oy-stars HAR HAR HAR.

  2. Thanks for pointing out my open fly, Steph.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...