Don’t Be Shellfish, Shuck at Home: Celebrate Oyster New Year COVID-19 Style

Photo credit: Suzi Pratt

Elliott’s Oyster House is celebrating their 28th Annual Oyster New Year—with some changes to accommodate for the pandemic we’re all living (suffering?) through. Typically a yearly in-person celebration, to work with Covid-19 safety guidelines this year, they have a few adjusted options for fellow oyster lovers.

For $85, a “take home kit” includes two dozen oysters and everything you need to shuck those babies. If you’re a wine-o, you can add a wine kit ($85) that consists of three varieties—one being the delicious Taittinger Champagne—but if you only want one, you can purchase them individually ($30-40). If you want to play your odds, $10 raffle tickets are available for purchase, with proceeds going directly to Puget Sound Restoration Fund. One of the prizes includes, FOUR VIP tickets to the 2021 Oyster New Year party. A regular ticket is $165 each! If you’re feeling like the whole less-for-more approach is your current vibe (I totally get it), you can also vote on the “Most Beautiful Oyster” by November 21st to be entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card. Hellooooooo easy money!

All of the festivities around ONY are listed here.

ONY Take Home Kit. Photo credit: Catherine Tonner

We dined at Elliott’s this past weekend, right as Governor Inslee announced the most recent rollbacks, including a pause on all indoor dining in the state that went into effect on November 18th and goes until December 14th. This was the first (and now only) time I’ve dined indoors since the start of the pandemic. We were scheduled to eat outdoors on the patio but due to the windy weather, they weren’t able to accommodate our request (and offered to reschedule).

The restaurant has implemented new safety features, including an air purifier system that claims to eliminate coronavirus particles and brings fresh outdoor air inside. There are plexiglass partitions between tables and the host stand. They offer free masks at the front desk if you happened to forget yours (all staff are wearing masks at all times). There is hand sanitizer at the door before you enter the restaurant.

We each had a dozen oysters (one of each kind). They were all delicious and tasted very fresh! The frozen mignonette that accompanies them, complements the oysters well and isn’t overbearing. Mignonettes can often drown out the original flavor of an oyster. I appreciate the frozen version because it’s much easier to scoop out! The Olympia oyster—despite being the smallest of the bunch—was quite delicious and hard to believe it took three years to get to that tiny size! They aren’t always readily available so get them while you can!

I’m a huge seafood lover so we also ordered the Tequila Lime Mussels and Pesto Manila Clams, both came with potato bread. The mussels are in a cream sauce with garlic, jalapeño and cilantro, which is a unique spin to the tomato or white wine sauces you see in most restaurants. The cream sauce is great for soaking up with potato bread, which is awesome on its own. To be honest, I probably could’ve eaten an entire loaf’s worth if I didn’t have three other dishes coming.

The Spicy Crab and Corn Chowder has a decent amount of crab! There’s the ever slightest hint of chili seasoning for taste but labeling the chowder “spicy,” might be a stretch. For our entrees, we ordered the Grilled Scallops and King Crab Legs. The Scallops sat on a butternut squash risotto with a shallot and sun dried tomato beurre blanc, which according to the internet, is a fancy word for hot emulsified butter sauce using vinegar and white wine. It was delicious and a very fall appropriate dish. I struggle with cooking scallops at home, so if it’s on the menu, there’s a strong chance I’ll order it. The scallops at Elliott’s did not disappoint.

The King Crab legs were so enormous I could barely fit them into one picture frame. They were just steamed, and only came with butter for dipping (this is admittedly a huge pet peeve of mine, as a non-white person). While I was enamored with the size, the oysters, mussels and clams had more pizazz to them. I would recommend opting for a few selections from their starters for a comparable price. We had the Pear Crisp and Chocolate Hazelnut Pound Cake for dessert and both were great without being overly sweet.

Wine Kit. Photo credit: Catherine Tonner

We had several cocktails between the two of us—the Dusty Rose (if you’re a fan of gin, *raises hand*, this is great!), Orange is the New Peach (another great option), Seattle Mule (hard to go wrong with a mule), and a CiderCar, their spin on a traditional Sidecar. I am not typically a fan of Sidecars since I’m not a huge fan of Cognac, but the apple cider and St. George Spiced Pear makes it a completely different tasting drink. It’s much sweeter than a regular Sidecar (not sweet at all) so if you prefer your drinks to pack a punch, this might not be for you. It’s an easy sipper.

Our server was great—very attentive but not overbearing. They made jokes and always had a recommendation for the next cocktail we should try. They never made us feel like we were overstaying our welcome (we were the last ones in the place!) or rushed us. They apologized when they weren’t able to box up our leftovers, per safety policy, which completely makes sense!

Elliott’s made me feel safe and comfortable enough for my first indoor dining experience since March. It’ll be a while longer until indoor dining reopens, but Elliott’s is prepared for it when the time comes. Since COVID-19 cases have been on the rise, all Washington restaurants and Elliot’s are closing indoor dining for a month, starting Wednesday. Take-out is definitely my preferred method of supporting local businesses. Elliott’s offers take-out and delivery via DoorDash and Caviar.