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

Fish: A Cure for the Winter Blues

Fish Helps with Seasonal Affective Disorder

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

The Value of Bellingham’s 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 Special

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.

New Gift Cards!

Oyster Bar Gift Cards

The Oyster Bar now has gift cards!

These are not your standard restaurant gift cards (read: over-sized and on card-stock). Easy to use, these credit card style gift cards are the ideal gift for the foodie on your list.

Perfect to entice your friends from the Seattle area to skip town and come up to Samish Bay, where the sunsets are gorgeous and time slows down just a little bit.

Or, maybe you’ve got a local friend who loves seafood but never seems to make it out to the Oyster Bar. This is your opportunity to give them the nudge they need take some time and savor a delicious meal. We promise, we’ll treat ‘em right!

How to Purchase: call us at (360) 766-6185

Denomination: Any

How you can get them: Pick them up or we’ll mail them to wherever you’d like.

Any other questions? Feel free to call us directly or email info@theoysterbar.net 

Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner

AVAILABLE WEDNESDAY (Nov 23rd), THURSDAY (24th) AND FRIDAY (25th)

Featuring

  • Quince Sorbet Intermezzo
  • Pumpkin Souffle
  • Cider Sage Butter Fresh Roasted Turkey Breast
  • Fresh Samish Bay Oyster and Sausage Stuffing
  • Maple Glazed Butternut Squash
  • Roasted Parsnip Mashed Potatoes
  • French Green Beans with Toasted Pecans and a Sherry Vinaigrette

images

The History and Types of Oysters in the PNW

The History of PNW Oysters

Seafood, and oysters in particular, are the cornerstone upon which our establishment is built. The Pacific Northwest has always been known for its relationship with the Sea, with the native peoples of the area consuming and utilizing oysters in particular for over 4000 years.

With the arrival of European-American settlers to the Puget Sound area in the 1840’s, a number of natural resource extraction industries emerged, including forestry, mining, fishing and canneries, and of course, oyster farming.

In Washington, the commercial industry started in 1851 to supply the intense demand for oysters generated during the Californian gold rush. Like any heavily farmed stock, oysters benefited from university, federal, and state research which resulted in artificial culture techniques, spat collectors, and oyster hatcheries which work for all species.

Today, Oysters are big business in our state.

Industry Snapshot:

  • Washington produces more oysters than any other state
  • 5 species of oyster are grown here
  • There are over 330 commercial shellfish growers in our state
  • The industry provides over 2,700 jobs
  • Oysters and shellfish generate over $184 million per year in revenue
  • The industry is supported by strong statewide environmental laws, clean water, and good natural habitat for growing oysters.
  • Washington state is the only state in the country that allows for the private ownership of tidelands (other states hold them in trust)

PNW Oyster Species

So you like Oysters? Let’s dig a little deeper. Here is some interesting information about the 5 species of oysters grown here in Washington.

The Pacific Oyster (Crassostrea gigas)

  • 98% of the oysters grown in WA
  • Can be very diverse in taste, size. The term for oysters adopting the characteristics of their surroundings is “merroir”
  • Came originally from Japan in 1919
  • Often are named for the bay or area from which they came, all taste different based on the micro-system they grew in (this is true of most oysters)

The Olympia Oyster (Ostrea lurida)

  • Native oyster to Washington state
  • Generally smaller (size of a postage stamp)
  • “Huge” coppery flavor
  • Nearly disappeared, resurged in the 1980’s

The Kumamoto (Crassostrea sikamea)

  • Arrived in Washington in 1947, as oyster farmers scrambled to re-establish Japanese sources after WWII
  • Water was generally too cold for Kumamotos to reproduce naturally (now they’re grown in trays)
  • WWII generation was not keen on eating a product with a Japanese name
  • Became popular in the 1980’s
  • Considered the best “learning” oyster, subtle briny yet sweet flavor and size are manageable to a new oyster consumer
  • Taylor Shellfish farms is known for their Kumamoto stock, and in fact saved the species after it became nearly extinct in it’s native Japan

The Virginica (Crassostrea virginica)

  • Grown only by Taylor Shellfish farms (more common on the east coast)
  • Taylor Virginicas won a 2008 Rhode Island oyster competition for “best flavor” and second place overall. The competition featured 19 oyster farms ranging from New England to the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Virginicas seem to only thrive in Totten Inlet (between Olympia and Shelton)

The European Flat (Belon) (Ostrea edulis)

  • Grown extensively in Willapa Bay, South Puget and North sound prior to 1930
  • First non-native oyster introduced to the Pacific Northwest in the 1870’s
  • Brought back in the 1990’s
  • On the verge of extinction in Europe
  • “That” oyster – the aphrodisiac of Rome, the French Renaissance, and European romance
  • Once grew plentifully in the Thames and other estuaries
  • Flat “dinner plate” shell
  • Intense flavor profile

Armed with this historical, modern, and oyster variety information, we hope that as you enjoy our fare, you’ll have a new appreciation for these tasty shellfish!

Oyster on, friends.

5 reasons YOU should visit the Chuckanut Oyster Bar

Visit Chuckanut Oyster Bar

In July of 2016, our little restaurant was featured in a Seattle PI piece “Washington’s Best Road Trip Restaurants.” We were selected as a part of a readers poll which asked: where do you go to eat on your way to Canada, Oregon, Idaho or your favorite hiking spot?

While we’re happy that local outdoors enthusiasts appreciate our well-sourced cuisine and delectable desserts, we wondered, why else do people come visit us out here on Chuckanut Drive?

So, in a style that is all too common in the web today, we decided to make a “5 reasons YOU should visit the Chuckanut Oyster Bar” list.

Reason 1: The gorgeous Chuckanut Drive

Ever felt a little stir crazy, decide to hop in your car, and go for a drive? Well, if you’re looking for something scenic, Chuckanut Drive has what you need.

Featured in car commercials, numerous newspaper articles, ‘best of’ lists, and revealed as a not-so-hidden gem through word of mouth, Chuckanut Drive is breathtaking in any season. If you’re travelling between Mount Vernon and Bellingham, it makes for a nice break from I-5, and harkens back to a time when American motorists cruised just for the love of driving.

But don’t just take our word for it, car clubs love it too.

Driving down Chuckanut

The gorgeous canopy over the well maintained highway.

Reason 2: We got wine

And we’ve got the Wine Spectator awards for the last 27 years running to prove it. Owner Guy Colbert was at the helm of The Oyster Bar’s Wine Program from 1990 to 2014 and Amanda Abbott took over the purchasing responsibilities in 2014. She’s done an excellent job of injecting new producers that reflect her passion for interesting and delicious wines, and we’re confident that you’ll be impressed with the selection.

Reason 3: Play outside

Ok, this may fall under the purview of the initial Seattle PI poll we mentioned earlier, but it must be said, Chuckanut Drive is a gem when it comes to outdoor activities. Larrabee State Park, an elaborate trail system on top of Chuckanut Mountain, access to Chuckanut Bay (you brought your Kayak, right?), and those views! From various vantage points you can see the peak of Mount Baker, the San Juan Islands, the Twin Sisters Mountains, and even Raptor Ridge.

With so much trail access, it’s tough to beat the simple joy of a day spent exercising followed by a night of delicious oysters and wine.

Reason 4: Eat Local

We source many of our oysters and shellfish from our neighbors at Taylor Shellfish Farms, who are right down the road from us! It’s pretty rare that you can go visit the farm that produces your food, then drive down the road and eat freshly prepared food from that same place.

We’ve got great relationships with numerous local farms in Whatcom and Skagit counties, but we do feel an (obvious) special kinship with Taylor Shellfish. The Oyster Bar has been in operation, in one form or another, since the early 20th century, inspired in part by the local bounty.

Reason 5: Inspired Art

Bellingham is home to many talented artists, many of whom draw their inspiration from the sights, sounds, and zeitgeist of the area. We’re fortunate to call The Chuckanut Gallery our neighbor.

Featuring hundreds of one-of-a-kind pieces and a sculpture garden, the Chuckanut Gallery is a perfect place to peruse and find that little treasure to bring your home or office together. Going from local hiking, to local food, and wrapping it up with local art? That’s a mighty fine trip!

New Salad and New Soup for Fall

A reflection of the weather, we’ve got some new fall-flavored items on the menu.

 

Butternut Squash Soup

Made with locally foraged Golden Chanterelle Mushrooms and roasted butternut squash, this soup is garnished with a toasted almond pesto and creme fraiche. It will warm you up and delight your taste-buds!

Golden Chanterelles (cantharellus cibarius) can be found throughout the Mt. Baker / Snoqualmie national forest between September and November. If you’re so inclined, you can go out yourself and forage for them. Locally, head to the Glacier Public Service Center and get a mushroom-picking permit. You can find plenty of resources online about how to hunt and identify mushrooms (some hunters suggest looking for gold colors poking out of the leaves and brush).

The mushrooms last until the first hard freeze, so get out there if you can, or come visit us – we’ve done all the hard work for you!

 

Marinated Beet Salad

A fresh salad made with red and yellow beets, red onions, baby spinach, chevre, roasted pumpkin seeds, and dressed with a honey lemon vinaigrette. A delightful combination of flavors and a perfect complement to your entree.

Bellingham SeaFeast

Bellingham SeaFest

You may have noticed our tweet, regarding the Oyster Shucking competition at Bellingham’s Inaugural Seafeast celebration this year. Two of our chefs, Joey and Chris, placed 2nd and 3rd in the competition.

The Oyster Shucking Competition

The Oyster Shucking Competition

Seafeast, “a festival filled with world-renowned seafood, boat rides, demonstrations, and the arts in an authentic maritime environment” happened at Bellingham’s Zuanich Park from September 30 – Oct 1st.

Sponsored by a number of great local Seafood production, packaging, distribution, and consumer facing companies, the event showcased the “abundance of our Salish Sea Bounty,” according to Deb Granger, the event’s 2016 General Manager.

Bellingham has a bustling working waterfront, a long and illustrious maritime heritage, seafood and fishing industries of international renown, and now, an event celebrating our unique relationship to the Salish Sea.

Seafeast seeks to educate attendees about the benefits of locally produced seafood, and featured local fishermen in survival suit demos and races, tours of ice house and fish processing facilities, local beers on tap, and interactive educational booths showcasing the importance of healthy waters and healthy seafood.

We were pleased to be involved in this inaugural event, and more than happy to support our local vendors – they’re a big part of what allows us to provide the exceptional quality product that our discerning patrons have come to expect here at the Oyster Bar.

So whether you’re a dyed-in-the-wool local, or visiting our unique community, we hope you’ll mark your calendar for next year’s Seafeast and come learn a bit about the incredible bounty our local waters provide and, of course, enjoy some delicious food!

Chuckanut Drive is now 100 Years Old

Two horse carriage on Chuckanut Drive.

Two horse carriage on Chuckanut Drive.

In the 1890’s, Chuckanut Drive, aka Highway 11,  was nothing more then a rugged logging road.  Today it’s a well traveled scenic drive that’s considered by many to be the most beautiful road in the great Northwest.

It wasn’t until 1905 that work began to make improvements to the drive from Bellingham.  Convicts started the work and it was completed by state crews in 1916.  It now serves as a charming alternative to Interestate 5 when traveling between  Bellingham and Skagit County.

The oldest state park in Washington state is Larrabee State Park which is located on the drive.  Blanchard, the home town of Edward R. Murrow of radio and TV fame is located on the southern part of Chuckanut Drive.  Mr. Murrow was famous for his news coverage from Europe during World War II.

Today the drive is enjoyed year round by locals and tourists alike.  Hiking, hang gliding, bicycling, sightseeing, camping and dining are some of the most popular activities.

Here’s to everyone that’s contributed to and maintained a road that has brought so much joy to so many.  Thank you.

10 - CD One Old Car

9 - CD Old CarsDSCN7614

 

menu-img

For Your Favorite Foodies

menu-img

Featured Wine: Chatâteau Haut-Beauséjour

Diversity, quality, and quantity describe this region in southwest France. Bordeaux is one of the most prolific wine regions.

2578 Chuckanut Drive
Bow, WA 98232

info@theoysterbar.com

360.766.6185

QUESTIONS?