The Oyster Bar (Bellingham, Washington)

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For as long as I’ve been visiting Craig’s family in Bellingham, Washington, I’ve been hearing about the Oyster Bar. It’s where Craig went for his prom night dinner. It’s where Craig’s parents celebrated their most recent anniversary. It’s beautifully situated on Chuckanut Drive, the scenic route you take when getting off the I-5 from Seattle.

On this most recent trip, we decided to go there with our friends Mark and Diana. After the Fair, we changed into our fancy clothes, hopped into a car and parked precariously on a ledge. I’m pretty sure Diana thought I’d fall to my death off a cliff when I opened my car door. Maybe that was the plan all along!

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Our table was situated downstairs near a window. Here, Craig will lead us down.

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And now for the view:

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Can you tell, looking past those very attractive people, how very attractive the view is? Very attractive indeed.

The Oyster Bar harkens back to a more traditional time of restaurant-going. Little grace notes like warm bread served with good butter (butter topped with a flower, as you’ll see here) are reminders of why this style of restaurant service succeeded for so long.

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The menu had various suggestions for Aperitifs. Some of us ordered dry Sherry; I ordered a Lillet which came served over ice with a lemon peel:

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I found it very refreshing; floral and slightly sweet. As Diana said, “Those French know how to do these things right.”

To start the meal, we ordered a big plate of oysters:

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Some of them were local (the Taylor Shellfish Farm is just down the street) but many came from different parts of the world. We slurped them down with great gusto and speed. At the center you’ll see an iced grapefruit champagne mignonette which gave each oyster a nice, cooling, acidic finish.

As for wine, a waiter (or sommelier, perhaps) turned us on to a local Chardonnay, made on top of a mountain that stays cool so the grapes don’t get too sweet. We enjoyed it very much.

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I was wary of the raspberry sauce that came with the salmon I ordered (since we were in the Pacific Northwest, I figured salmon was a wise choice)….

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…but there was nothing cloying about it at all. The raspberries, which were also probably local, leant a gentle hit of fruit without overwhelming the fish (which, by the way, was perfectly cooked).

Another quaint feature of the restaurant, like the bread and butter, is that everyone gets a mini cheese souffle with their entree:

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This one was a goat cheese souffle and, since goat is a mild cheese, it also didn’t overwhelm the fish.

For dessert, we shared a divine mango coconut cheesecake:

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And a Frangelico creme brulee:

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It was a cozy, comforting end to a very charming, very delicious meal. Plus: with the scenery, this place is pretty much a sure thing if you’re trying to impress a date. Just don’t fall off a cliff when you’re walking back to your car.

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