• Lunch Daily 11:30-4pm
  • Dinner Daily 4-10pm

Chuckanut Drive – 100 Years Old and Still Looking Good

chuckanut drive

The incomparable Chuckanut Drive is turning 100 this year! Chuckanut Drive, or State Highway 11 if we’re being official, was completed in the spring of 1916. Since then, it’s been a favorite cruising spot for those looking for a drive with a view—and good food!

The now scenic highway first began as a logging road in the 1890s. The thick forests of Bellingham made transportation and travel extremely difficult for the settlers coming for a new life in the Pacific Northwest. In 1905, city lawmakers approved funds to begin improving the road, but the money soon ran out. The project wouldn’t be completed until Charles Larrabee and Cyrus Gates, two wealthy Bellingham businessmen, gathered the funds to complete the rest of the road. The work began with convict crews, but ended with private companies and state crews.

In the 1920s, just a few short years after the road opened, the groundwork for The Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive was laid. A small shack selling fresh oysters to travelers was started by Zenzabaro Maekawa, a plant manager for the Rockpoint Oyster Company. The shack did so well that it soon sprouted four walls and a lunch bar and was named the Rockpoint Oyster Restaurant! One hundred years later, that humble shack is now The Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive!

Rockpoint Oyster Chuckanut Drive

Last week, Chuckanut Drive showed her wrinkles with two rock slides experienced back-to-back. To make sure the area is safe, the Department of Transportation has closed that section of the road down for now. But we’re in contact with them every day to see when it will reopen.

Fear not though, The Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive is still reachable! The rock slides took place to the North of us, but the road is clear from the South. You can get to us via Colony Rd., Bow Hill Rd., Cook Rd., and Chuckanut Drive exit 231. Make your night perfect with an unrivaled highway view, followed by an unrivaled seafood meal!

Learn more about the history of Chuckanut Drive and watch a great video on it at The Bellingham Herald.

This March: Small Plate Crab Dishes!

small plate crab dishes

This month, it’s alright to feel crabby! That’s because the Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive is offering a number of delicious small plate crab dishes throughout March and April. (Not available Easter weekend) Our chefs have whipped up a number of mouth-watering crab dishes for you to enjoy. Perhaps you’d like to try the Snow Crab Lasagna? Or maybe a Petite King Crab Salad is more your taste? Or you could always sit by our fireplace and warm yourself up with the Dungeness and Whiskey Soup.

Here’s everything the Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive has prepared for you crab-wise.

For information on pricing, please visit our menu.

 

Snow Crab Lasagna
Lemon dill pasta, portabella mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, basil, roasted red pepper and star anise coulis and basil oil.

Snow Crab Lasagna

 

Dungeness and Whiskey Soup
With crab crackers and fresh chives.

Dungeness and Whiskey Soup

Petite King Crab Salad
Heirloom tomatoes, avocado, basil, arugula and black truffle vinaigrette.

King Crab Salad The Oyster Bar

King Crab Brulee
Blue oyster mushrooms, shallots, basil, capers, saffron lemon mousseline and grilled brioche.

King Crab Brulee The Oyster Bar

Crab Cocktail
Snow, King and Dungeness crab, spicy gazpacho, avocado mousse and crostini.

Crab Cocktail The Oyster Bar

If you wish, our servers will happily pair any small plate crab dish you order with a selection from our award-winning wine cellar. Each bottle on our list has been personally selected by the owner, so as to cover every major wine-producing region of the world.
We have limited seating in our restaurant, so we recommend you call ahead and make a reservation if the crab plates have your mouth watering!

The Health Benefits of Lobster

Lobsters, the crustaceans known as Homarus Nephrops (north Atlantic subspecies), have only in recent history been known as a delicacy. In the early 20th century Lobsters were primarily fed to poor people and prisoners. In one example, indentured servants in a New England town successfully sued their owners to create a “only 3 lobster meals per week” rule. We should be so lucky!

In addition to being delicious, lobster also boasts many nutritional benefits including protecting heart health, decreasing inflammation, boosting brain function, promoting growth, speeding healing, and increasing energy. In addition, lobsters are a great place to get many essential vitamins and minerals.

So, without further adieu, here are some important health benefits:

Cholesterol Balance: the high concentration of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids can help your cholesterol balance, with moderate lobster consumption.

Brain Function: Lobster features a number of unique minerals and vitamins including B12, which is directly linked with maintaining nerve integrity and the maintenance of your nervous system. Lobster is also a very good source of choline, a water-soluble nutrient that can increase the production of neurotransmitters.

Protein Boost: Lobster features high protein content which is important for the growth and repair of cells, tissues, bones, and organs. Unused protein is stored or later use as energy!

Reduce Inflammation: The protein and “good” fat content found in lobster can result in decreased inflammation of the joints. This can be a part of providing relief for issues ranging from arthritic conditions to cardiovascular and circulatory health.

Happy Thyroid: lobster possesses selenium, a trace element, which helps stimulate the activity of thyroid glands. Selenium protects against free radicals during metabolism too, which makes lobster a great food to eat if you’re trying to lose some pounds.

We’re serving live Maine lobster through the end of February. Have you ever wondered why “live” lobster is so important? One reason is that crustaceans like the lobster start to decay very rapidly after dying, so to ensure the best quality lobster experience, lobsters are kept alive as long as possible before being prepared.

So, get in soon and enjoy some lobster. It’ll treat you right!

Live Lobster Through February

Due to demand, we’ve decided to continue our fresh lobster plate specials through the end of February.

(February 13th and 14th will be excluded due to high volume in the restaurant, but you can look forward to these unique dishes for a little bit longer. )

As a reminder, we’ve got some great options for you to choose from:

 

Large plates:

Live Maine lobster which is served half or whole, and with Prime Top Sirloin Steak, Prime Filet Mignon Steak, or with Wild Gulf Prawns.

 

Small plates:

 

Lobster RavioliMascarpone, arugula pesto, toasted pine nuts, brown butter, shallots.

 

 

 

Lobster Bisque

 

Lobster BisqueGoat cheese gougere, fresh chives.

 

 

 

 

 

Lobster Carpaccio SaladThin slices of lobster, avocado, mango, passion fruit, vanilla bean vinaigrette.

 

 

 

 

Lobster Mac & CheeseTruffle cream, herbed bread crumbs.

 

 

 

 

Dessert: 

 

Lobster Ice CreamLobster infused cream, lemon powder, brown butter, cookie crumble.

 

 

 

The Oysters you eat at the Oyster Bar today, last night slept in Samish Bay

A favorite saying around here, “The oysters you eat at the Oyster Bar today, last night slept in Samish Bay” has it’s roots in the history of the region.

The staff of the Taylor Shellfish Samish Island Farm regard their work as similar to their land based contemporaries, as farmers. The bay has been producing shellfish since the early part of the last century. Many of the harvesting practices are unchanged over time. Oysters are still hand-sorted, washed, and bagged by on site staff. The work is done at low tide, which, during the winter, is often in the middle of the night.

Oyster farming is hard, physical labor, in cold conditions. But the people who stick with it love it, just as we love what their labor produces.

A long standing tradition, fresh shellfish is sold on-site at the retail location along with charcoal for those who desire a beachfront picnic, barbecuing beside a colorful pile of oyster shells. The farm produces oysters, clams, mussels, geoduck and even local seasonal Dungeness Crab.

According to Taylor Shellfish President Bill Taylor, the demand for shellfish is on the rise. “We believe that demand for shellfish is going to grow both domestically and internationally. We see markets continue to be strong, demand typically outstrips supply” he told undercurrentnews.com.

Taylor Shellfish farms produces 60 million pounds of Oysters annually, 4-5 million pounds of clams, 1.2-1.5 million pounds of mussels and 700,000-800,000 lbs of geoduck across both the US and Canada.

According to the Governor of Washington’s Office, the state’s commercial shellfish growers employ about 2,700 people and contributed $184 million to the state’s economy in 2010.

Samish Bay itself is ground zero for expansion in the industry. The Washington Shellfish Initiative, initiated by Governor Jay Inslee, in concert with the Puget Sound Partnership, is in the second phase of a plan to add 10,800 acres to the region for shellfish harvesting by 2020, 4,000 of which are in Samish Bay.

Currently, a large portion of prime harvesting area in Samish Bay face random bouts of pollution (usually after heavy rainfall) which make them unsuitable for production. This is due to factors in the Samish River watershed-farms and livestock, manure-based fertilizer, failing of overloaded septic systems, even dog poop in the backyard.

20 government agencies are involved in monitoring the water level, and sampling shellfish from the bay to ensure that what consumers are eating is safe. We’re proud of or neighbors, the farmers and people of Bow who are banding together to modernize farming practices, upgrade systems, and pitch in as a community to improve a unique part of our heritage.

Here’s to enjoying shellfish for generations to come!

Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching!

For some, this is a reason to panic. You’ve gotta make plans for you and the apple of your eye. Flowers? Gifts? Dinner? With so many options, we’d like to help you simplify your life.

How, may you ask?

Reservations, that’s how!

We’re currently taking reservations for Valentine’s Day! Just a short drive from Bellingham, the Oyster Bar is the premier dining experience in Northwest Washington

Imagine, a romantic, candle-lit meal, with a glorious view of Samish Bay and the San Juan Islands. Appetizers like Cascadia Mushroom Gnocchi. An award winning wine cellar. The freshest seafood and most delectable flavors. Deserts such as Frangelico Creme Brulee and Pear Tart Tatin! Prepare to have a happy palate.

Make this a Valentine’s day you’ll remember for a long time. If you’re in Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan, or Snohomish county, we’re within an hour drive.

We also have gift cards, if you’re interested in encouraging your favorite couple to take a romantic evening.

To make a reservation, please call the restaurant at (360) 766-6185. We’re open from 11:30 am – 10 pm. Don’t put this off, we fill up fast, and we’d love to see you for this special day!

And what if you’re too late for the big V – day itself? Well, you can always come in the day before, or the day after. Your night will be just as special, just as romantic, and just as memorable.

Live Maine Lobster!

(Warning: The following blog post will create an undeniable craving for all things lobster. Read at your own risk.)

You may have seen our live Maine lobster offerings on our social media feeds lately. During the month of January, our lobster entree special includes a half or whole lobster served with prime top sirloin steak, prime filet mignon steak, or with wild gulf prawns. (Is your mouth watering yet?) In addition to our special lobster entree, we are offering 5 small plates all featuring mouth-watering lobster. For anyone that has wanted to try lobster, these small plates are affordable and PACKED with lobster flavor. (We don’t skimp on the lobster, either.) For those with an established love for lobster, you’ll want to try all plates especially the ice cream.

Our small plate lobster specials include:

Lobster RavioliLobster Ravioli: served with mascarpone, arugula pesto, toasted pine nuts, brown butter, and shallots.

Lobster BisqueLobster Bisque: with goat cheese gougere and fresh chives.

Lobster Specials The Oyster BarLobster Carpaccio Salad: served with thin slices of lobster, avocado, mango, passion fruit, and vanilla bean vinaigrette.

Lobster Mac & CheeseLobster Mac and Cheese: with truffle cream, lemon powder, brown butter, and cookie crumble.

And

Lobster Ice Cream The Oyster BarLobster Ice Cream: lobster infused cream, lemon powder, brown butter, and cookie crumble. (This is a MUST try.)

For pricing information, please visit our lobster specials menu.

To help with the winter chills, we’ve always got our fireplace going and invite our guests to enjoy a nice fireside meal.

The sun is setting from 4-5 pm directly over Samish Island, it makes for a stunning spectacle to close out the day, and complements your feast.

Fish: A Cure for the Winter Blues

It is estimated that about 14% of the US population report feeling a little down and lethargic during the winter months, and an additional 6% suffer from the more acute Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Bellingham tops out the list of cities in the continental United States with populations of over 50,000 which get the least amount of sunlight, and we all know the Pacific Northwest winter can get a little gloomy. No one likes getting up when it’s dark and going to work, only to finish the work day and be in the dark… again. However, there are some interesting options out there to fight the winter blues. We can take some cues from another group of people who seem to be doing quite well, despite living on the same parallel as even darker Alaska: the Icelanders.

In Iceland, the winter is even darker than our own and yet, the locals have little to no Seasonal Affective Disorder! Scientists and nutritionists who examined this phenomenon found that Icelanders have one highest per-capita fish consumption rates in the world. They eat, on average, more than four times as much fish as do Americans.

So what is in fish that helps prevent seasonal blues, or even SAD? Omega 3’s and vitamin D! Omega 3 fats have a critical role in brain health and documented effects on mood stabilization and anti-depression.

Omega 3’s are found in “fatty fish” such as salmon, trout, herring, and sardines. 3 ounces of Salmon per day provides a day’s worth of essential fat! Other seafoods, such as shrimp and tuna also have good fats and some nutritionists recommend at least two seafood meals per week.

In addition to being an excellent source of Omega 3’s, fish are also the top food source for vitamin D, which our bodies are able to make when exposed to the sun. During dark winter months, we are not only seeing less of the sun, we’re also more often indoors, so opportunities for our bodies to create vitamin D are reduced.

After several weeks of this, we will have depleted the stores of vitamin D, and our mood may be affected! This is where fish can some to the rescue yet again—the 3 ounce piece of salmon we mentioned earlier? It also provides your full daily value of vitamin D.

So we hope that you’ll all be sure to get out and get some exercise, make sure you catch some sun rays, and of course, eat your fish!

Supporting Our Working Waterfront

 

At the end of September and Start of October, our staff had the distinct pleasure of attending the inaugural Bellingham Seafest, a celebration of our “legacy maritime heritage, bustling working waterfront, internationally-renowned fishing & seafood industries and unsurpassed culinary bounty.”

Needless to say, we owe a great deal of our own success to the largess of the local waters, and we are very supportive of our local fishermen. We thought it would be a great opportunity to draw some attention to the Working Waterfront Coalition of Whatcom County.

With a mission of promoting the “vitality and economic benefits of our working waterfronts for the people of Whatcom County”, the coalition aims to support the continued vitality of the maritime sector, and to conserve the cultural history and economic prosperity the industry creates.

Our region has always had a close relationship to the sea. At one point, in the 1940’s, Bellingham was home to the largest salmon cannery in the world, the Pacific American Fisheries Plant—which, at its peak employed over 5,000 people.

Pacific American Fisheries Plant – Fairhaven WA circa 1930’s

The Port of Bellingham has some great resources for learning about the history of Bellingham and Whatcom County’s waterfronts, and when you look out over Samish Bay from our restaurant, you can see some of Taylor Shellfish Farm’s oyster beds.

Here’s a snapshot of the economic benefits commercial fishing brings to our community (c/o the port of Bellingham):

  • 1,781 direct jobs with an additional 870 induced jobs generated through spending by the direct job holders with other businesses
  • $13.3 million of local purchases by the firms located at the Port’s marinas contributing an additional 165 indirect jobs, for products and services used by the commercial fishing industry.
  • The 1,781 direct job holders earned $94.5 million in wages & salaries.
  • $320 million in revenue from the purchases by the fishing fleet at the Port’s marinas (this does not include the landed value of the fish catch).
  • State and local governments received nearly $16 million of tax revenue from the activity generated by the commercial fishing fleet.

Of course, as a patron of our humble restaurant, you’re also a part of this economic equation. We love supporting our local working waterfront and we thank you for both supporting us, and the brave Fishermen who bring us the bounty of the sea!

Ivory Salmon

We recently posted on social media that we were serving a special treat, white (or ivory) salmon. We wanted to take some time to pass along more info on what makes this salmon unique and gives it the flavor profile you’ll come to love.

Alaska King Salmon (C/O www.adfg.alaska.gov) standard and ivory

Alaska King Salmonstandard and ivory (C/O www.adfg.alaska.gov)

The iconic pinkish-orange to deep red color, which is the hallmark of Alaskan Chinook or King Salmon, is always a welcome sight at the dinner table. But, did you know that King’s can have a variety of colors? Their flesh can range from red, to white, to even marbled!

While each color has it’s own texture and flavor profile, White (or Ivory) salmon has become highly desired in high-end restaurants and by discerning cooks, chefs, and foodies because of their buttery-rich flavor and silky texture.

1 in every 20 King Salmon are Ivory, and this phenomenon is the result of genetic characteristics which result in a unique enzyme that allows Ivory salmon to break down carotene. Animals such as fish, shrimp, and even flamingos that are unable to break down carotene have the distinctive red color deposited in their flesh or their feathers.

Carotene giving the flamingo it's characteristic pink hue

The flamingo’s characteristic pink hue comes from Carotene

So, next time you’re at the market, or see Ivory King Salmon on the menu, give it a try! It’s a unique addition to the seafood lover’s experience and one you won’t want to miss.

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Wine of the Month: 2005 Malvira San Guglielmo

This rare red Italian blend was recently added to our list. It was a particularly remarkable vintage and we were very fortunate to receive the allocation.

2578 Chuckanut Drive
Bow, WA 98232

info@theoysterbar.com

360.766.6185

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