Oyster Pub: Daytona Beach, Florida
I recently spent a week in not so sunny Daytona Beach, Florida with my family. Among the many things we did in Daytona, my wife and I managed to get out to a few local watering holes without the kids. One of my new found food obsessions are raw oysters. Living in Minnesota, it is not only very difficult to find good quality and fresh oysters, they are damn expensive. Just a few blocks away from where we were staying was a local bar/pub called The Oyster Pub.
The wife and I stopped in for a quick lunch and upon walking in, the pregnant wife was instantly in heaven. Not only was it an oyster bar for me, but it is also a peanut bar for her. Immediately upon walking through the front doors, there it was, a 55 gallon barrel full of peanuts. The wife grabbed a basket full and we made our way to our table. The bar was dark and very comfortable. It reminded me of an "up-north supper club". Being a weekday, it was not very busy at all. A few people sitting at the very large bar smack-dab in the center of the place and about three other tables. We were greeted immediately by one of the nicest and best servers I can remember in my short life. She took our drink orders and off she went.
I didn't even have to look at the menu to see what I was going to order, but when I did finally pick up one of the paper stained menus I couldn't believe it. $8.95 for a platter of a dozen oysters. I know the oysters were caught just a few short miles away in the Gulf, but really, $8.95 for a dozen. I would easily pay three to four times or more for that amount for a good quality oyster back in Minnesota. I knew at this time I would be back to this bar multiple times during my short week in Daytona.
Beer was delivered along with the wife's diet coke and we placed our order. The wife ordered the daily special, a philly cheese steak wrap with fries for $5.95 and I ordered a dozen oysters along with a side order of hush puppies. I'm pissed I cannot remember our servers name, but did I mention that she was absolutely the best server I have ever encountered in my life? We managed to shove down two baskets of peanuts during the very short wait for our food to arrive.
At last, the oysters had arrived. They were huge and smelled delicious. I waited for the cracker basket to arrive with some hot sauce and away I went. Lemon squeezed and about 6 drops of hot sauce applied to each oyster. Mini fork in one hand and then next thing I noticed, I wanted more oysters. They were the single best seafood I had ever placed into my mouth. Now at only $8.95, this also helped make them taste much better, but you really could tell how fresh they were. After eating them, I asked myself how I was ever going to return to Minnesota and ever want to purchase oysters again.
Earlier that morning, we took our kids out to the beach to collect some sea shells, so I thought it might be a neat idea to ask the server for a doggie bag to bring my oyster shells back for them to add to the collection. Not only did she bring me a doggie bag, she took the tray of shells back to the kitchen, hand washed and scrubbed each and everyone herself, and also traded out some rougher looking ones for better ones. Along with this, she gave us some very good words of advice on how to remove any left over odor as well (boil them for 5 minutes in a water and bleach solution) as it will bring out the pearl color in them.
We returned the next night for dinner and a second serving of a dozen oysters. This time our server wasn't nearly as up to par as the one from the previous day, but we had very high expectations after our first visit. I again ordered another platter of a dozen oysters. This time my dozen wasn't twelve rather they placed 16 very nice oysters in front of me and away I went. They were just as good that night as they were the previous day and once I ate the last one, I still wanted more.
For the rest of our stay in Daytona Beach, I did everything I could to get my wife back to this restaurant, but had no such luck. I did however talk her into trying another restaurant that also featured a Raw Bar.
The Oyster Pub in Daytona Beach will go down as one of my top five restaurants I have ever stepped foot into. Not only for the fresh oysters at a great price, but also for the great service and comfortable "homey" feel you get the second you sit down.