I thought I had taken my raw oyster-loving father-in-law to every waterfront/seafood restaurant the Bellingham area had to offer; we’d done them all, hadn’t we? He enjoyed several Fairhaven eateries, the Cliffhouse overlooking the bay, the Fork near Lake Whatcom, Bayou’s Oyster Bar and all the spectacular places near Squalicum Harbor. But wait. Is there yet another, just slightly off the beaten path…featuring fresh oysters, local seafood and an amazing wine list?
The Oyster Bar, of course! It’s located south of Fairhaven, on the beautiful and scenic Chuckanut Drive, just south of the hairpin turn near milepost 11.
I was surprised to learn that the Oyster Bar was once a modest oyster stand during the Great Depression. Today, it’s a destination restaurant for special occasion celebrations, business functions and visitors. It’s blessed with spectacular views of the San Juan Islands and fantastic local seafood. Huge bonus: its Wine cellar has been awarded the coveted ‘Best of Award of Excellence” from the Wine Spectator since 1990.
My in-laws came to town in early January, and the Oyster Bar was our big night out during their 4-night stay. Our 3-hour meal included lots of seafood, several bottles of wine, a lovely dessert and smooth sherry. But my favorite aspect of the meal (beyond the company) was the seafood. To start, we enjoyed Samish Bay Mussels steamed with white wine, leeks, pistou and tomatoes and a lovely appetizer of goat cheese, sautéed mushrooms and crostini.
My father-in-law balked when I asked him if he could spare an oyster from his sampler plate, which included Samish Bay, Penn Cove, Fanny Bay and Shigoku (2-3 of each). They’re served on the half shell with a refreshing iced apple cider mignonette. I was able to get my hands on a Shigoku; slimy but darn good (this is coming from a raw oyster novice!).
For dinner, our table enjoyed the Bouillabaisse, Gulf Coast Hopper Prawns and Halibut. All prepared with the freshest ingredients (most of which can be found at Taylor Shellfish Farms just a quarter-mile away off Chuckanut), local produce and palate-pleasing flavors. Don’t forget about the Oyster Bar!