DDB 2012 Oyster Crawl
This past week the DDB team embarked upon a Denton oyster crawl. We have been talking about this for months and finally arranged time to make this happen. Our goal was to try to find the freshest, best tasting oysters in the area. During the planning phase of this adventure, we narrowed down our picks to the places that were closest to the Denton Square, served beer and were known to consistently stock and serve oysters at this point in the year. With those very loose criteria, we settled on Sweetwater Grill and Tavern, Frilly’s Bayou Kitchen and Hoochie’s Oyster House.
Our first stop was Sweetwater Grill and Tavern located at 115 S Elm St Denton, TX 76201. This is a locally owned business that has been in Denton for a while. Once there, we seated ourselves and the server arrived very quickly to take our drink orders. The beer came out quickly, was cold and perfect for the day. Next we ordered the oysters, which were of medium size and priced at 10.99 a dozen (At face value a good price). The oysters tasted fine but there was way too much residual shell and residue on them (By residue, I mean dirt!). They also appeared somewhat dried out and looked like they may have been pre-shucked a few hours prior to us arriving. The quality and attention to details was seriously lacking at Sweetwater. Overall, we rated the food 2 out of 5 stars service 3 stars, ambience 2 stars.
Our next stop was Frilly’s Seafood Bayou Kitchen which is located at 1925 Denison St. Frilly’s is a casual, Cajun style restaurant that serves many seafood dishes, has a full bar and is well maintained. We got there pretty early and we were seated quickly. The waitress took our drink orders, and our frosty beverages came out very quickly. Next, we ordered two dozen of their oysters which were priced at $13.99 per dozen. We noted that the oysters took a little longer to come out than we would have expected, but it was not a long wait.
The oysters that arrived were very clean! The membrane was still attached which in my opinion is a sign of quality. They were of medium to large size, and much fresher and plumper than Sweetwater. I did detect a slight bit of bitterness initially, but it was not overwhelming. In regard to the service, the waitress was kind enough to answer several questions regarding the oysters, but did lack some of the basic attending skills (Sparkles’ drink refills were ultra-slow and customer prompted). We were told that the oysters were sourced out of south Louisiana from the Ameripure company located Franklin (Ameripure provides live harvested oysters that are pressure-washed to remove natural grit and debris from their shells, then culled by seasoned professionals to ensure half-shell quality. After grading for size, the oysters are individually banded.). Sparkles pointed out that the oysters were almost too clean. They lacked the brininess which is a feature that we love about gulf style oysters. They were tasty but the processing may have detracted from the natural flavor of these innocent mollusks. Overall, we would rate Frilly’s oysters 3 out of 5 stars, their service 3 stars and ambience 3 stars.
Our final stop on this epic oyster adventure was Hoochie’s Oyster House located at 207 South Bell Avenue. This place has a really cool vibe and extremely fun atmosphere. It’s a seat yourself kind of place with great music pumping in the background and a kitchen visible to the patrons. As you know, I like being able to see the kitchens of restaurants to get a sense of how clean and well maintained they are. Our server Hailey, greeted us kindly with a smile and provided prompt and attentive service. She even withstood the AMEX assault that we unleashed upon her.
We again ordered a couple dozen oysters and were pleasantly surprised to see that they were being carefully and attentively shucked right in front of us at the oyster shucking station. After this labor of love, the oysters were presented to us and were large, very clean and very flavorful.
In regard to taste, they had a very nice brininess about them and were amazing! Both of the owners (John and Sam) came over to talk with us, and John provided a lot of information about their product. He indicated that their oysters were sourced from the Galveston bay area and were priced at $1 per piece. John was also kind enough to share a sample of his homemade beer. He had crafted a Russian Imperial stout, which went great with the oysters. We rated Hoochies’ oysters 4 out of 5 stars, service 4 stars, ambience 5 stars. The DDB team also crowned this local Denton Business as the hands down winner of the 2012 Oyster Crawl.