Cary, N.C. — I first heard rumblings about an "Oystoberfest" at Dean's Seafood in Cary over Twitter a few months ago.
With Oktoberfest events in full swing now, I was happy to see that Dean's launched their twist on the traditionally beer-centric event.
Oystoberfest, a celebration of oysters and craft beer, officially launched on Friday and runs for two weeks. I checked it out on Friday night.
As part of Oystoberfest, Dean's is offering a selection of hard to find oysters. The selection changes daily, but options include Well Fleet oysters from Cape Cod, Mass., Fanny Bay oysters from British Columbia, and Whale Rock oysters from Connecticut, which are known for their perfect shells and ample size.
To an oyster novice, it can be overwhelming. You can get them served a variety of ways:
- Raw on the half shell - served with cocktail, horseradish and a really tasty green sauce that goes great with the horseradish)
- Rockefeller - cooked with spinach, bacon, Romano cheese and Sriracha aioli
- Casino - cooked with slab bacon, blue cheese, bread crumbs, Fresno peppers and marjoram butter
- Fried - breaded and fried
I decided to sample the oysters available on Friday in two ways - raw and casino. I normally don't eat oysters raw, but really wanted to get a taste for each of the varieties on the menu.
One of my favorites were the Malpeque oysters. These Canadian oysters come in a teardrop shaped shell and are very tender. They didn't have a harsh flavor at all. I was really impressed with their sweetness. Definitely a great one to get raw if available. Since I prefer milder flavors, I also really enjoyed the James River oysters from Virginia.
Another standout were the Blue Point oysters from New York's Great South Bay. The texture was a little firmer than I normally like, but they were a nice contrast. The Chuna oysters from Virginia were a little too salty and sweet for me.
The Oysters Casino were a great alternative to the raw variety. Served in the half shell, the blend of bacon and blue cheese really popped alongside the saltiness of the oysters. I definitely recommend getting these as an appetizer.
To go along with my Oystoberfest experience, I scanned the special craft beer menu and opted for Foothills Cottonwood Pumpkin Spice Ale. Another great selection on that list (another Foothills one) Sexual Chocolate. So good!
Now, I didn't just have oysters. I wanted to get the full Dean's experience. So my husband and I ordered the shrimp sampler (a must for any shrimp lover! The honey pecan and shrimp fritters are divine!) and the Moule Frites PEI Mussels.
(And before you ask, we got a take-home box!)
Our server suggested the Moule Frites mussels, but I never really read what they were until they arrived at the table in a huge bowl covered in cheese and French fries. Wow! A decadent and fun way to enjoy mussels in addition to fries, this dish also contained tomatoes, Saffron cream, a spicy aioli, garlic and wine. Definitely dip the fries into the sauce at the bottom.
Oystoberfest continues until Saturday, Oct. 5. Reservations for Dean's are recommended.
One more piece of info for oyster lovers - Dean's Sunday brunch buffet has all-you-can-eat oysters and banana pudding.