You may wait or even be asked to move down and change your seat when first settling in . . . but don't be annoyed, the more the merrier is the Oyster Bar theme and vibe. This happening, street-facing, window-exposing restaurant is one you won't want to miss!
The Oyster Bar is one of the newest palette-pleasing spots in downtown, Historic Leesburg. With an atmosphere that is lively and even loud at times, it exudes a faux water-front mindset or style in both decor and atmosphere. It has come into its own and the food is definitely worthy of its descriptive name! Rick Allison, the owner, has dabbled in the past with seafood fare, but he has hit his mark with this very successful and sought-after restaurant (and bar) on King Street in downtown Leesburg, Virginia.
When first visiting the Oyster Bar with friends and co-workers (we working down the street), I tried several of the appetizers and slowly made my way through menu item . . . having a particular mind-set and how I would expect an "Oyster Bar" to taste and feel; I had a Boston or Maine vibe preconceived in my mind. After the weeks went on, and I experimented with several plates, I came to realize that this food was not only good . . . it was VERY GOOD! It ventured far from what I was used to in its tastefully "unique" style. Some dishes adorned a Spanish flare, demonstrating to me that the owner has an obvious knack for seafood with the unexpected twist. Rick has brought in a culinary team that while adding excitement to his offerings, he is staying in touch with what works price-wise and pulls in people regularly that go "out" to eat and spend their money to get what they want and will only pay for . . . EXCELLENT FOOD!
Moving right along to the important stuff . . . some of my favorite appetizers are the Blue Crab and Corn Chowder, the Columbian Ceviche (yummy with just the right amount of tortillas to go with and a rarity!), and the Asian Tuna that several friends order regularly. Recently, I dabbled with the crab cake (ordering no bread to savor the actual crab cake ingredients). Growing up in Maryland, I loved to pick crabs with family and friends we caught ourselves, this was a curiosity and typically I won't usually order a crab "cake" enjoying just the pure crab with ALWAYS BUTTER. It was not the largest crab cake I've ever had (without the bread keep in mind), but the friendly server was kind enough to include and add a side of delightful green beans which quantity-wise then passed my taste test and it was delicious.
A great way to sample many of the menu items is to visit during Happy Hour (3:00 - 6:30 pm) where both $5 specials and 1/2 price oysters, along with drink specials are offered. Two of my initial favorites stemmed from happy hour and are the Columbian Ceviche and the Crab Sliders - both had just the right amount of seafood in each dish. Some other's favorites are the Calamari and the Mussels, but really everything is worth sampling. Lunch starting at 11 am and dinner are served 7 days a week, and the menu includes everything from Filet Minot to decadent desserts with some entree-style salads, a great Burger, Lobster Mac & Cheese and many seafood dishes in between.
My daughter, a foodie well beyond her food years, enjoyed a Basil Encrusted Chicken (Pasta) that she just loved with pesto. I have to share that she is one of my own biggest food critics and compliments when I cook "Italian" or any meal at home, and she will be now be ordering that Pasta dish again and again because I have seen that she loves food so much that she never wants to be disappointed when it comes to food. She'll realize in time that when you try more out, you learn more about what flavors work best together and it opens up your palette. Afterwards if she grows even more of a love of food and she cooks a lot like I love to do, she'll try to make the dish herself at home and change it up and experiment . . . just to enjoy the process and experiment to have some culinary fun.
SO . . . DO YOU KNOW YOUR OYSTER?
Given the name "Oyster" Bar, I recently inquired as to the various types of Oysters being offered because I had not dabbled much with fish/seafood varietals or differences- even though both of my parents are from Boston (dad is a "Southie" and lived a block from the water). We grew up with all types of seafood and fish and thoroughly enjoyed all foods with the Italian side and my dad (and his dad) loving to cook. I was completely impressed learning that some oysters are not just saltier than others or take on a different size or shell size and shape (similar to how vegetables, fishes and meats take from their environments), but they truly vary to a point where one can become quite the enthusiast after looking into their differences from waterway to waterway and region to region. For example, West coast oysters, the owner shared, are smaller and sweeter . . . while East coast oysters are larger and a bit saltier and brinier, encased in shells with more shades of brown, green and white.
Suggesting a special East coast large oyster with a unique blend of garlic, cheeses and a flavorful combination of spices, the delicacy wowed me once again and was $5 a pop at happy hour. Don't ask me the name as the oyster which was described and delivered to us, but it will wow your palette and this was not your average "oyster" by any means!
Tah Dah! I have now been somewhat educated on oysters and want to venture more, all because of a little breath of fresh air in a new restaurant called King Street Oyster Bar" in the downtown, Historic District of Leesburg, VA.
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Read more of Mary's blog which also appears on Mary's web site
Oyster photo credit to EastCoastMagazine.com and some great oyster information by Maris Callahan, she picking the brain of Chicago's Pearl Tavern owner, Matt Balikov. Thank you!