Elliott's Oyster House is sort of a guilty pleasure for us. I've been coming here since my very first visit to Seattle in 1993. I've always thought of it as sort of a tourist-trap spot, but we've always had a good time at Elliott's.
There's really only one thing we get here....
In fact, one of the reasons we keep returning to Seattle, is to have oysters...many, many, oysters!
If you aren't interested in oysters, this is probably the time to leave and return on another day...because from here on out, it's pretty much wall to wall oysters.
Except for some liquid refreshment.......
For some reason, the Missus, usually a non-beer drinker loves the draft Pyramid Hefeweizen..but only from here, and only on vacation.
Elliott's is the first place I really, had good oysters....and I mean, no lemon, no mignonette, just oysters! I love the texture and wonderful after taste of good oysters. My favorites are the varieties of Pacific Oysters with a mild ocean-cucumber-beef after taste. Over the years, our typical MO at Elliott's is to just walk in, and head on over to the bar area, find a table, and grab some oysters...and hopefully some Copper River Salmon as well. This being a Sunday, gave us no reason to think that we should change our usual strategy. Boy were we wrong! The place was packed to the gills, and even the bar was being used by the restaurant with at least an hour wait.
I've never seen this place so packed. But after about 20 minutes we lucked out, two seats opened up at the raw bar......talk about our luck!
We had checked out the plates of Copper River Salmon passing us as we waited, and were unimpressed, they looked over cooked and dry...probably because the placed was just "slammed". So we decided to stick to oysters, and there was a nice variety available...about 30 to be exact!
One thing that has changed about Elliott's over the years are the prices. I'm pretty sure when I first enjoyed the oysters at Elliott's they weren't even close to the current price of $26 a dozen. If there was one individual who made this whole experience a really great time, it would be this dude:
He goes by the name of Nhi, and was in charge of the raw bar. And though much of his time was spent putting together stuff like this:
The always smiling Nhi was always there to answer questions. In fact when he found out that two hungry oyster junkies were on hand, we received a great deal of attention. During the evening there were several people coming up to the bar and asking for stuff like, "gimme your biggest oysters", and "I want really meaty oysters"..... When I started asking for something " with a meaty-creamy flesh, a mild brine taste, more on the clean side, with a rare steak-cucumber finish" we were off to the races. Nhi smiled and said, "I have the perfect thing..." And quickly shucked 2 samples, which were very good. These nice deep cupped oysters were called "Kusshi's", which is roughly translated to mean "ultimate" in Japanese, and had a nice mild flavor with a light sweet finish. When we both expressed our approval Nhi smiled widely, and said, "hey, I told you these were good!"
And so we started with a dozen Kusshi's and a dozen mixed:
I found that the one thing Nhi was not good at was counting.....count the oysters and you'll see what I mean! Along with the smooth Kusshi's, the slightly larger Malaspina's were quite good as well. When the Missus started asking questions about European Flats(not my favorite), Nhi quickly shucked a pair and brought them over to us. The Missus enjoyed the metallic-iodine aftertaste, which I found to be much too salty and bitter for my taste buds. But since the Missus enjoyed them so much we had a few added to our next 2 dozen(or so) order.
Our Server Tera, kept us plied with rye and sourdough...to clear our taste buds between oysters. Nhi included a half dozen Olympic Oysters along with our Kusshi's and Penn Cove Flats. I've never developed a taste for Olympic Oysters, and these tiny, slightly muddy tasting oysters did nothing to change my opinion. I really don't enjoy the coppery finish either.
By this time the Missus had more or less "hit the wall", and though I've been known to consume 8-12 dozen(or more) in a single sitting, it seems that time has diminished my once voracious appetite, so I decided to order one last dozen and call it a night.
So I finished the evening with a half dozen Kusshi's, and a half dozen(or so) of another one of my favorite Pacific Oysters - Little Skookums. Those Skookums did not disappoint, I was especially pleased with the nicely flavor "liquor".
All in all, another wonderful evening of oyster eating at Elliott's, made even better by the great service we received from Nhi. We did notice that everyone (except us) sitting at the raw bar were locals, one was even a fisherman by trade, so I guess Elliott's isn't just for tourists. Regardless, a stop at Elliott's is a must whenever we visit Seattle.
Elliott's Oyster House
1201 Alaskan Way, Pier 56
Seattle, Wa 98101
Elliott's also has a "Progressive Oyster Happy Hour". Starting at 3 pm selected oysters are 50 cents a piece. The price increases by 20 cents every 30 minutes until 6pm. One of these days, I'm hoping to attend the Oyster New Year celebration at Elliott's in November!