Wait a minute! National Oyster Day is on August 5th? Isn’t that a month without an “r” in it meaning we’re not supposed to slurp our favorite bivalves until SeptembeR? Well, shucks, you can just clam up about that old wives’ tale. Ever since the advent of refrigerated trucks, it’s totally fine to enjoy oysters all year round. So check out these pearls of wisdom and make plans to visit one of these excellent Music City oyster emporiums for National Oyster Day on Monday, August 5. But don’t be shellfish; share a dozen or two with someone you love. (Sorry for all the oyster puns, I promise to clam up now.)
We reached out to Sarah-Ann Soffer for some advice. Not only is she the Area Director of Public Relations for Loews Hotels, but she is also a true oyster aficionado. Here is her advice for the proper way to order and consume a plate of oysters like an expert:
“When getting an assortment of oysters from both coasts, always eat them starting from the east coast and ending on the west coast. That way you go from salty and mineral flavors to briny, sweet and buttery. Just like you would end your dinner with dessert, west coast oysters have the perfect, creamy profile which is the perfect way to end the experience.”
Sarah-Ann also has some advice for how to top your briny treat: “Skip the cocktail sauce and mignonette (unless it’s some incredible mignonette worth trying). Every oyster has a unique flavor profile, similar to a great wine. Many restaurants take the time to describe each oyster’s flavor – think cucumber, salty, mineral, briny, sweet, buttery, melon, popcorn, etc. This gives you the opportunity to really learn what oyster flavors you gravitate towards – and the best way to do that is by enjoying them raw in their purest form.”
Another tip to make you look like a pro is to place each shell back on the tray upside down so that you can easily tell how many are left and when you’ll need to order another dozen. Your server will also appreciate knowing that there isn’t a hidden one still waiting to be slurped so that he or she can whisk your tray away at the appropriate time.
Sarah-Ann also wanted to share the news about a special deal that Loews is offering at their cozy Mason Bar at the Loews Vanderbilt for National Oyster Day. “We’ll be offering an order of Fried Oysters and a glass of sparkling wine for just $22 on August 5. The Fried Oysters at Mason Bar feature Remoulade, Nashville Hot Spice, Chorizo and Scotch Bonnet peppers. The Remoulade helps cut through the heat from the Nashville Hot Spice Oysters and Chorizo, while the Scotch Bonnets make sure the flavor remains bold in the end. The Fried Oysters are also deep fried in a southern breading with a special twist. Taking a page from Nashville’s famous hot chicken, the fried oysters are infused with the well-known hot chicken spice, and then bloomed in chorizo oil which extracts more of the flavor, giving the oysters an extra spicy kick. The hot chicken spice-infused chorizo oil is then absorbed into the southern breading that the oysters are deep fried in. But since it’s fat based like the oil it’s fried in, the oyster maintains its crispiness, never getting soggy.” Count us in for a couple orders!
In 12South, bartaco is bringing back one of their fans’ favorite secret dishes just in time to celebrate National Oyster Day, their Crispy Oyster Taco. Perfectly fried and crispy, wild gulf oysters are soaked in buttermilk and then dredged in delicious, seasoned masa, paired with a refreshing and tangy oyster sauce to cool you down on a hot day. If you want to try this off-menu special, just mention the secret password—#bartacoOysterTacoIsBack—to your server/bartender.
Marsh House in the tony Thompson Hotel in the Gulch is definitely known for their fantastic seafood. You can join them to celebrate National Oyster Day with freshly shucked oysters, with $1 Oyster specials, and a $5 Chambong & Oyster pairing. If you don’t know what a “chambong” is, you’re in for a treat as you enjoy this most efficient way to slam down a few small glasses of champers. Tantalize your taste buds with additional raw-bar offerings such as Wade in the Water ($40) – 6 oysters, 3 clams, 1/3 lb. shrimp, tuna tartare, smoked fish dip; Come Sail Away ($80) – 12 oysters, 6 clams, 2/3 lb. shrimp, crawfish remoulade, tuna tartare, smoked fish dip; and I’m on a Boat ($155) – 24 oysters, 12 clams, crawfish remoulade, 1 lb. shrimp, tuna tartare, ceviche, crab fingers, smoked fish dip.
Oak Steakhouse in SoBro serves more than great beer. They also feature a rull raw and one of the city’s best examples of the famous creamy spinach oyster dish of Oysters Rockefeller. Oak is also a great place for bivalve fans to dine with those friends who don’t appreciate the value of a great oyster. They can just saw their way through a filet while you enjoy something more sophisticated.
Oak Steakhouse’s sister restaurant is O-Ku, a stylish new Asian restaurant and sushi bar that has already earned legions of fans since opening recently in Germantown. O-Ku is open for dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m. Guests are also invited to enjoy a special Sushi Happy Hour from 5 to 7 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, featuring half off all sushi rolls. Executive Chef Eric Hill’s “Chef’s Specialties” Kaki dish is chef’s choice of oysters served with orange ponzu, Momiji oroshi, scallion and ginger. Go getcha’ some!
Ellington’s Mid Way Bar & Grill at the Fairlane Hotel is a wonderfully stylish throw-back restaurant to the days of “Mad Men” and the three-martini lunch. To celebrate National Oyster Day, they’ll be offering $1 oysters all day featuring East and West Coast oysters. Guests also have the option to enjoy happier hour on the wraparound terrace which provides an outdoor escape with a dedicated dining area and communal seating enhanced by unparalleled views of Music City.
Saltine is named after the cracker that is the universally-accepted perfect platform for a big old cold oyster topped with a hit of hot sauce and horseradish or a squeeze of lemon, so you know they are oyster experts. Saltine in Nashville’s midtown neighborhood will offer $1.50 Gulf Oysters ALL DAY LONG. Happy hour is also offered Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Drink specials include $5 oyster shooters and Gulf Oysters for just $1.50. Saltine’s Virginia Gulf and James River oysters are always offered on the menu in addition to a rotation selection of oysters coming from Canada, Cape Cod, Maine, Rhode Island and more.
While we don’t pay much credence to the legend of oysters supposed amplifying effect when it comes to love, you can’t go wrong by inviting someone you care about to share some oysters on August 5. What happens next is up to you.