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Will Olympia Oyster Bar Reinvent the Olympia Oyster?

Many have tried, but few have had such high ambitions.

Olympia Oyster Bar owners and chefs Melissa Mayer and Maylin Chavez
Olympia Oyster Bar owners and chefs Melissa Mayer and Maylin Chavez
Olympia Oyster Bar

After securing a lease at 4214 N. Mississippi Ave. last monthOlympia Oyster Bar has honed its concept. Owners and chefs Melissa Mayer and Maylin Chavez tell Eater they intend to open in early December with the atmosphere of a casual French oyster bar, a place where friends gather around communal tables to drink inexpensive wine, chat about the day, and eat oysters.

Living up to the restaurant's "where oysters are king" tagline, about seventy percent of the menu will be dedicated to Mayer and Chavez's Mexican and Asian riffs on raw oysters. Expect six to eight daily oyster options, with Mayer and Chavez featuring Olympia oysters, the Pacific Northwest's native oyster, whenever sustainable and available. Think lime and house-made hot sauce instead of cocktail sauce, and accoutrements that change with the seasons.

Salads, sandwiches, seafood dishes, and seafood charcuterie will make up the rest of the menu—all based on the bounty of the West Coast of North America. "We're really excited about the seafood charcuterie," said Chavez. "It will have things like oyster pate, smoked fish, pickled shrimp, and house-pickled veg."

One of Chavez's signature Mexican-inspired dishes is a play on Moules-frites (mussels and fries), and depending on the day, the featured seafood could be mussels, crab, or smoked oysters. The dish incorporates her grandfather's version of chipachole, "a seafood-based broth with lots of baking spices, cinnamon, and chipotles," said Chavez.

In terms of Asian influence, Chavez said, "Asia, specifically Japan, is really the birthplace of the oyster, and you have a lot of seaweed and ingredients from the ocean, so we'll work these ingredients into our salads and other dishes."

For beverages, Chavez and Mayer are putting together a sparkling and white wine-heavy wine list and considering rosé on-tap. They plan to make cocktails specifically designed for oysters, including a signature cocktail involving cardamom and frothed egg white.

The maximum seating capacity at Olympia Oyster Bar is 50, and there will be waiters to take your order. "We want to have a very casual environment where people feel they can come in any day of the week," said Mayer. "It won't be fine dining at all."

Olympia Oyster Bar

4214 North Mississippi Avenue, , OR 97217 (503) 841-6316 Visit Website

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