Shell yeah — wild oysters are harvested along coastal NC from mid-October to the end of March, so that means it’s almost prime oyster season in Raleigh. We’re here to share pearls of wisdom from local chefs Ashley Christensen (AC Restaurants), Coleen Speaks (Hummingbird), Joe Rohrer (42nd St. Oyster Bar) + Sunny Gerhart (St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar) about what oysters to look out for around the City of Oaks.
“I think all NC oysters have unique qualities and really different, wonderful flavors, each truly telling of the specific waters and coastal environments from which they are harvested or cultivated,” Chef Ashley told RALtoday. “As long as they are fresh and skillfully shucked, you can’t go wrong.”
DYK that there is just one type of oyster found in NC? However, Crassostrea Viginica, AKA Eastern oysters, come in hundreds of varieties. Here are some of our local chefs’ favorites.
Core Sounder, Locals Seafood | A deep-cupped oyster of medium salinity with a sweet, slightly creamy finish. These highly recommended, cultivated oysters are available year-round.
Dukes of Topsail Sound, N. Sea. Oyster Co. | “They are briny, plump, perfectly manicured oysters that remind me of swimming in the salty ocean,” Chef Sunny said. “They have an incredibly sweet, almost scallop-like flavor.”
Green Gill, Locals Seafood | Core Sounders sometimes get a specific microalgae bloom that gives them a blue-green tint. “It adds depth to their already great flavor,” Chef Joe said. Look for them in January and February.
Masonboro Wilds, Shell’em Seafood Co. | “These oysters are hand harvested and selected in the wild, and they are deliciously briny due to their proximity to the jetty,” Chef Ashley said. “They have a nice deep cup and a silky firm texture.”
Tarheel Tiderunners, Locals Seafood | These briny, buttery, and meaty oysters are grown in the Stump Sound and are available year-round.
Where to find them
Now you know what to look for when you’re at one of these six oyster hot spots.
- 42nd St. Oyster Bar, 508 W. Jones St.
- Coquette Brasserie, 4351 The Circle at North Hills St.
- Death & Taxes, 105 W. Hargett St.
- Hummingbird, 1053 E. Whitaker Mill Rd.
- Mandolin, 2519 Fairview Rd.
- St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar, 223 S. Wilmington St.
How to eat them
“First try the oyster raw, without anything added,” Chef Ashley said. “This is the purest way to taste what makes that oyster special, and to experience its definitive characteristics.” Read: Texture and flavor.
“I love a lightly roasted oyster over coals served with a seasonal spicy mignonette,” Chef Coleen said.