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Buck A Shuck!  Oyster House Happy Hour


It’s obvious that I like to go out to eat. But it never fails that just because I have a food blog, everyone wants me to pick the place. Why? I, for one, do not like to force my will upon others. Plus, I can be indecisive. So I love it when others pick. But hey, I’m proud to say I picked Oyster House. And then after I picked it, it turned out that it’s the favorite or second favorite restaurant of two of my friends. Why did they not tell me this before? So Oyster House used to be Samson Street Oyster House, before it closed, got a facelift, and renamed itself. I’m not sure what it looked like before, but it sure is sparkly now. There’s a big bar and oyster bar area in the front, along with high tops. The back half is for tables. It’s cool and casual, but not like fish market casual or anything.


They do have a full bar, and we did partake. We got some of the famed oyster house punch, but of the non-summer variety… more on that in an upcoming post. They have buck a shuck here, where one oyster is featured as the day’s $1 oyster. This happens weekday nights during happy hour and late on saturday nights. How could I pass this up?

We went on thanksgiving weekend, so it was a strange time to go. Because of the lack of people eating out during this time, they actually ended up only having 3 varieties of oysters, period. So the ones above were the buck a shuck, some kind of oyster from jersey. I’m not like a raw oyster connoisseur, but I liked these just fine. Listen, you’re talking to a girl who gorged in 10 cent oysters during grad school… oh Alligator Grill of Austin, how I miss you! Ok, back to the oysters… In addition to the buck a shuck, there was another variety from canada and one other one from somewhere else. These were all east coast oysters.

oysters2See the ones in the back whose shells are more scallop shell shaped? Those are the canadian ones. While R preferred these more expensive canadian ones, T did not like them at all. He said they tasted metallic.

So what does one put on raw oysters? Well, it’s up to you. You are provided with lemon, horseradish, cocktail sauce, vinaigrette, and hot sauce. And you can use none, one, more, or any combination of the above. I am not into horseradish, so I first squirted lemon juice on all my oysters. Then I experimented with different combinations of everything. In the end, I decided that cocktail sauce, with a tiny shot of hot sauce was the way to go. The vinaigrette with a tiny shot of hot sauce was the runner-up. Any more than a tiny dash of hot sauce is too much for me. I learned this the hard way.

While everyone filled up on raw bivalves alone, I had to try the clam chowder. While it was a good chowder with good flavor, big chunks of fresh clams, and well-cooked potatoes, this chowder is not thick. It’s cotton-pickin watery! And watery chowder is so strange to me. While it tasted great, it just wasn’t chowdery enough for my liking. I like me a thick and hearty chowder that would break plastic spoons!

The service was good. Our server was a good sport and she kept up with all our punches. The buck a shuck is only available at the bar or any area with a stool, so if you sit at a table, it does not apply. I definitely recommend taking advantage of this deal!


Oh, and afterwards, we went to RAW. Did you know they have lounge in the back that plays music? I had no idea! Well, it totally wasn’t my scene at all, but they do have these incredibly giant sumo decorations on the wall and show some strange sumo videos. ┬áBut if you’re into really expensive bottle service with really terrible music, then this is the lounge for you!
Oyster House on Urbanspoon

Varga Bar Al Fresco

After falling in love with Kanella earlier this year, it was hard to not notice the birth of the Varga Bar across the street. It opened in May and I finally got a chance to go check it out. It is literally across the street from Kanella. Lots of pinup shots and even pinup murals on the ceiling. There are a smattering of tables and booths inside, and while it’s still nice out, a decent amount of al fresco seating.

It was coincidentally the last night of restaurant week, but we just decided to pick our own food. The menu itself is kind of slim, but there’s plenty of choose from. It’s actually quite simple, but the dishes have been swankified a bit. Like these crab cheese fries. A simple bowl of fries, but they throw crab on top! It was like a bowl of fries topped with crab chowder. It was brilliant. I’m going to start doing this on my own. They also have a large selection of beers and cocktails. This was one of the special sidecar cocktails. It was nice and strong, but it still doesn’t beat my favorite sidecar, at the Sidecar.

Another example of how they swankify food. This is a little crock of mac and cheese, but it is made with gruyere, fontina, and mascarpone cheese, and topped with bacon and some bits of truffles. The bacon was a lovely touch. The truffles, not so much. Since my last experience with truffles (the truffle deviled eggs at supper) I realize that I’m just not into it. But it was still a good dish.

P got one of the specials of the evening – goat with pasta. He liked it, but it was not enough goat. I do have to say, the bowl was a little small, and probably way too small for a grown man. He cleaned his bowl and probably could have eaten a few more bowls of this.

I wasn’t too hungry after the mac and cheese so I went with the kobe beef sliders. You get three adorable little sliders with bacon, shallots, vermont cheddar, tomatoes, and lettuce. I liked these (they just come cooked medium) but the buns were too thick and too dense. There was tons more bread than slider, so it was a bit too heavy on the bread side. It also came with really excellent onion rings on the side, and some pickle slivers.

The service here was pretty good. The clientele here is nice and mixed . I think it’s a nice place to stop by for a drink if you are in the neighborhood. The food is pretty good, but nothing extraordinary. It’s a nice addition to the philly dining/drinking scene, but nothing to bowl you over. But I could probably see myself coming back here.

Varga Bar on Urbanspoon

Little Eats Downtown

I got to attend a little event downtown this week at APO. It used to be called Apothecary, but I remember hearing that they had to change their name since they weren’t an actual apothecary. It’s a bar. And a pretty cool one at that. They’re not normally open on a tuesday night, so we have the place to ourselves. That was pretty cool.
The event featured some food from Leila Cafe, a fairly new middle eastern joint. Honestly, I wasn’t too crazy about the food. The hummus was too salty and a bit too dry. The rice and chicken/lamb dish… the chicken and lamb were good, but the rice wasn’t, and it was overloaded with cinnamon. I could see all the cinnamon powder on it. Eek. The dolma were pretty good. They had little falafel disks (not balls) that were the best of the offerings this evening. I don’t really see myself going to Leila to check it out myself. I think there are better middle eastern offerings around.
There were also mini cupcakes from Cupmakes, a very young cupcake place. These little things were adorable. A might on the dry side, but the frosting made up for it. It was banana chocolate. Incredibly banana-y and delicious.
There were also a number of special drinks for the evening. This is the blood orange swizzle. Really tasty. You could hardly taste the alcohol. Since this is a fancy drink place, they make each individual drink to order. So there were long lines. It was annoying. I can see on a normal night doing this. But when there are only 5 drinks on the menu, and hundreds of people are going to be ordering the same drink, it wouldn’t kill you to make bigger batches.
We didn’t get quite enough food, so we stopped by El Vez for a little snack since it was right down the street. The salsa mexicana. They all had a bit of a kick. Now these chips. Let me just say something about these chips. They were crunchy. But they were super greasy. Beyond greasy! It just seemed ridiculously greasy. I think they could totally degrease these a bit.
I was driving, so I had a virgin strawberry margarita. I know how strong their typical margaritas are, so I knew I had to be good. Damn it if these virgin margaritas aren’t freakin tasty. I could have drank a giant pitcher of this. Gah. So damn good. Since it cooled down a bit, we enjoyed the drinks and chips outside and it was a lovely evening.
Leila Cafe
401 S 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(267) 319-1903

520A S. 2nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(267) 581-6586
Apothecary Bar Lounge on Urbanspoon

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