OLYMPIA, WASH. - Mermaids -- oyster shell chandeliers -- and a tiny local delicacy with a big history. These are just a few of the gems you'll find at this brand new Olympia eatery.
“You are at the Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar in Olympia Washington. This is a long-time dream of our family, we've been shellfish growers since 1987, and we're excited to feed oysters to our community and our town," said Shina Wysocki, co-owner of the restaurant and longtime shellfish farmer.
Chelsea Farms grows their oysters on a hood canal beach about 5 miles from where they serve them – Eld Inlet.
And they're bringing back one that was nearly extinct due to overharvesting and pollution: the Olympia oyster.
"This little tiny oyster took me three years to grow from seed, and it packs as much flavor as this giant oyster that took me a year to grow," Wysocki said, holding up an Oly, which is about an inch and a half long.
Growers like Chelsea Farms are bringing Olympias back -- and Wysocki says there are a couple of things you should know about anyone raising this northwest native:
“Either that they're patient or they're crazy..."
If you're seeking to enjoy Olys, or any oyster, winter months are prime time, according to Cynthia Nims, author of the cookbook Oysters: Recipes that Bring Home a Taste of the Sea.
"This is when the waters are at their coldest, the oysters tend to be plump, they're really at sort of prime condition," Nims said.
Chelsea's executive chef Austin Navarre keeps it simple. You can order raw oysters dressed with nuoc cham - a Vietnamese dipping sauce - and micro greens. Or you can get them 'naked'.
Which is how you should try the tiny Olympias.
"I think enjoying them as simply as possible really helps you understand and appreciate their unique flavors,” said Nims.
The best thing about eating any oyster? It's like taking a quick trip to the beach:
"I think oysters reflect place. The place, you feel like you could have just been on the beach, picking this oyster up, because you feel the shell and you see the barnacles,” said Nims.
And eating native oysters grown just 5 miles from their namesake city is as local as it gets.
Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar
222 Capitol Way N
Olympia, WA 98501
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