The Oyster House

The Oyster House
320 4th Ave, Olympia

The oldest seafood restaurant in Washington, The Oyster House, overlooks Olympia’s Percival Landing and Budd Inlet. It’s a casual family eatery where diners can watch televised athletic events and view sports memorabilia displayed in the lobby. Dark wood and rich green colors make the dining room warm and welcoming.

We began with angels on horseback—oysters wrapped in bacon, skewered and then broiled. As the shellfish cook, they curl, resembling angel wings. The smoky cured pork, sweet mollusks, and zesty cocktail sauce are a satisfying starter. Others include Cognac oysters, crab cocktail, nachos and potato skins.

The house dressing is fresh ginger vinaigrette. Mixed greens come alive with flavor when combined with the spiciness of the pungent root.

Pacific oysters are lightly dusted with flour and pan-fried in butter. The delicate shellfish are accompanied by tangy cocktail sauce, a lemon wedge, and choice of baked potato, rice, vegetables or fries. The grilled halibut sandwich is well-prepared, the flatfish firm and fresh. The Oyster House buys local seafood whenever possible; it’s purchased fresh seven days a week. Only oysters from Oyster Bay, procured from Olympia Oyster Company, are served here.

Other seafood entrees include crab and gorgonzola tortellini, steamers, blackened salmon and coconut prawns. The extensive menu is not limited to seafood, however. Also available are burgers, sandwiches, steaks and pasta. Try the bacon wrapped filet mignon, teriyaki chicken sandwich or baby back ribs. Salad entrées range from cobb to seafood louie to wonton chicken.

A variety of tempting options are presented on the dessert tray, including mud pie, M&M fudge brownies, bread pudding with caramel sauce, cheesecake and chocolate cake. Fudgy French silk pie is decadent with a double crust—dense brownie on sugar cookie; a tunnel of caramel is hidden within the filling. Multi-layered banana poppy seed cake is slightly lemony and the flavors are enhanced by buttercream.

Appropriately, the dining establishment began as an oyster culling house owned by the Olympia Oyster Company. As far back as 1859, the company shipped the delicacies to San Francisco where diners would pay $20 per plate. Eventually, the original owners started a small seafood bar in the southeast corner where oyster cocktails were served.

In the 1940s, the eatery began to evolve into a larger operation. Two or three additions were completed before it was purchased and completely remodeled by the current owner, Rich Barrett, in 1996. The establishment is still patronized by loyal elderly diners who reminisce about the restaurant’s evolution. With public docking available, it’s also a popular place with boaters and families.

There’s a reason The Oyster House is the oldest seafood restaurant in Washington. Fresh, generously portioned food and relaxed, casual dining with a view keep customers coming back.

Janae Colombini