EaT: An Oyster Bar
I have a favorite restaurant for every mood and occasion. What I’m craving, what side of the bed I got up on, what I’m wearing, who I’m with, how hungover I am—all these things influence which direction I point my gullet in. When I’m craving a perfectly casual, laid back, and relaxing Sunday afternoon, I head for EaT Oyster Bar. Oysters and champagne isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when pondering laid back Sunday settings, but EaT does it right. The New Orleans-themed restaurant is the atmospheric equivalent of a golden lab, big, friendly, and lumbering; with high ceilings, a smattering of eclectic artwork, a motley collection of tables, and rows of barstools looking out over the lower dining area and N. Williams foot traffic.
Oysters and champagne isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when pondering laid back Sunday settings, but EaT does it right.
The menu is filled with Cajun-style favorites like fried oyster, prawn and catfish po’ boys with fries, red beans and rice, housemade chaurice (Creole pork sausage), fried okra, jambalaya, frog legs, gumbo, and shrimp etoufee. The stars of the EaT show though, are the oysters, a list of which can be found on the wall chalkboard by the shucking station at market price, which tends to be quite reasonable, which means you don’t have to feel too guilty if you simply must have a second dozen. EaT offers up oysters from all over, but the Oregon and Washington bivalves are delivered straight from the farm to EaT, so they are as fresh and briny as they come. Unless they are in a shooter, whereupon they are as fiery as they come and might melt straight through you and your chair and possibly the concrete floor.
Of course, if you give a Jen an oyster, she will need a glass of champagne, and EaT doesn’t disappoint, there is a short but nice list of bubblies, white and red wines available by the glass and bottle, beer served out of true kegerators in ice cold mugs, and a list of Southern style cocktails like the Sweet Tea Collins (sweet tea infused vodka with sweetened lemon juice), New Orleans Gin Fizz, and Whiskey Smash. An absinthe fountain on the counter promises the presence of the Green Fairy, should you be feeling extra frisky.
The crowd is a mixture of locals, oyster pilgrims, and plenty of friendly neighborhood folks—during one visit, the couple at the patio table next to me kept checking a gurgling walkie talkie-like device in the center of their table—when they paid their bill and left, crossing the street and walking up the stairs and into the house directly across the street, I realized they lived there and the contraption they had been compulsively checking was their baby monitor. I was a little jealous. Not of the baby of course, but of their Sunday afternoon proximity to EaT.
Owner: Tobias Hogan & Ethan Powell
Atmosphere: Very relaxed vibe, open airy space with high ceilings and big front windows (including roll-up garage door for good weather), nice casual neighborhood crowd
Outdoor seating: When EaT’s huge side garage door is rolled up, the entire front half of the restaurant feels patio-esque, but there are also several picnic tables outside along N. Williams if you want the real deal
Best Seat: I personally love to sit at the bar overlooking the downstairs and N. Williams. Good people watching, great view of the oyster menu, plenty of room on the bar for the champagne bucket.
Noise Level: Normal – Energetic, particularly when they have live music
Dress Code: Casual
Bring the Kids: Yes, or if you live across the street, leave them home and bring the baby monitor.
Bathrooms: Yes, they are shared with the rest of the building, head straight out the back door, turn right, go down about 25 feet, you will see them on the left. No key needed.
Parking: Free and easy on N. Williams and adjoining side streets
Cocktails: Tidy little selection of classic cocktails ranging from the Sazerac to a Campari Cooler ($7-$9)
Wine: Available by the glass ($6-$10) or bottle ($24-$80)
Corkage: $10 per 750 mL
Coffee: Ristretto Roasters
Vegetarian Friendly: Yes, a few of the side dishes are vegetarian, try the red beans ‘n rice, the collard greens minus the ham hock, fried okra, or the fried pickle chips.
Good for the following occasions: Lazy Sunday Afternoon, Fun Finger Food, Group Gathering
Group/Private Party Details: EaT can accommodate a pretty big group, at least a dozen, call for more info.