Among the Pacific Northwest's greatest joys are sunny summer days and freshly shucked oysters, but Seattle eaters rarely have the opportunity to experience them simultaneously. Consolidated Restaurants is looking to correct that situation with the city's first outdoor oyster bar: Elliott's Seafood Cafe, slated to open on Alaskan Way later this summer, will feature "an energetic sidewalk oyster bar, where people can sit or stand," spokesperson Katie Wilkinson says.
"There is nothing like it in the neighborhood," she adds.
The new restaurant will replace Steamers Seafood Cafe, also operated by Consolidated Restaurants. There are no plans to resettle Steamers in Seattle, but the brand's Tacoma location will remain open.
A number of Seattle restaurants specializing in oysters offer patio seating, including the adjacent Elliott's Oyster House, but none regularly shuck al fresco. According to seafood marketer Jon Rowley, Taylor Shellfish had wanted to shuck oysters at farmers markets, but Department of Health codes prohibit serving raw oysters at temporary events—which is why caterers are similarly barred from setting up oyster bars at weddings and other outdoor gigs. "The reason is we've had tons of Vibrio cases, and it's really difficult to trace back," says Hilary Karasz, spokesperson for Seattle and King County's public-health department. "An open-air, come-on-up-and-try-my-oysters stand doesn't work well."
But restaurants are in the legal clear, she confirms. In addition to the oyster bar and small full-service bar, Elliott's cafe will have patio seating near the boat dock and an indoor dining room furnished with copper and wood. Wilkinson describes the decor as a "warm pier look."
The cafe will offer the same menu all day. Although the progressive happy-hour pricing that's made Elliott's Oyster House's bar so popular in the late afternoon won't carry over to the cafe, the cafe will develop its own specials. Elliott's Oyster House's Robert Spaulding will oversee the cafe kitchen, while continuing to serve as executive chef of the more formal restaurant. Planned menu items include halibut tostadas, seafood-salad brioche rolls, sliders piled with scallops and root beer–braised beef, fried-oyster spinach salad, and plenty of Washington-grown oysters.