I tend to think I’m adventurous when it comes to trying new foods but there are some things I just won’t do. You’ll never see me eat a fish that still has it’s head attached. I don’t care who makes it. I’ll also never pull the head off a crawfish and suck the meat out. The thought of doing that makes me want to become a vegetarian. I also thought I would never eat an oyster. To me they sounded slimy and I wasn’t a big fan of oyster stew. Then I went to visit my friend who recently moved to the Sarasota area and she treated me to lunch at the Half Shell Oyster House of Sarasota. With a name like that, how could I not at least try an oyster?
The server told me the reason this restaurant was on the map was because of their charbroiled oysters so I had to try them. This was a family affair so we got the Oysters Combo, plenty for the adults (we weren’t sharing these with the kids), which consisted of the Charbroiled Oysters, Oysters Bienville, Oysters Rockefeller and Oysters Orleans. Hands down my favorite was the charbroiled oysters. They are prepared in a little herb butter sauce and charbroiled over an open flame. I think if you’re going to eat oysters for the first time, you need to keep it somewhat pure so you can experience the flavor of the meat and not all the extra stuff.
We were there for lunch so I opted to get a sandwich, the Voodoo Shrimp Po-Boy. My family had just spent a week in Orlando and made a pit stop in Sarasota before heading to visit family in Bonita Springs. I knew my mother-in-law would be preparing a feast for dinner so I thought I was going to get something smaller in scale. I was wrong. My sandwich was huge. It was filled with several pieces of perfectly cooked shrimp in a sauce that was sweet with a touch of heat. Those who know me well know that I can go bite for bite with most anyone when it comes to food. I ate maybe 2/3 of this sandwich before giving the rest to my step-son it was that filling. If you’re feeling romantic, cheap or just like sharing, you can easily split this sandwich with someone and leave feeling satisfied for under $10.
The restaurant is also kid-friendly. So if you want to check out the restaurant but need to bring your kids, don’t worry about it. They’ll be welcome. While the kids menu is basic (aren’t they all), the portions are HUGE! I ordered a burger for my 2-year old daughter and it could have easily fed both of us. What I like the most was the family restroom. Managing more than one person in a bathroom stall can be a challenge so finding out they have a private, large bathroom with a changing table that both moms AND dads could use was a definite plus.
Half Shell Oyster House only serves oysters that are shipped daily from Texas, Louisiana and Florida. Customers can eat at the oyster bar and watch first hand the shuckers (?) in action. The restaurant also has outdoor and indoor seating, with private dining that has the ability to accommodate parties of 50. Whether you are dining alone or with a group of people, you’ll feel welcome and comfortable upon entering the restaurant. During the course of our visit Jerry Stennett, the General Manager made visits to our table to make sure everything was to our expectations. The staff was friendly and accommodating. If you’re in the Sarasota area, be sure to try the charbroiled oysters and tell them East9thStreet sent you.
Half Shell Oyster House of Sarasota
1991 Main St. • Sarasota, FL
Tel: (941) 952-9400
Be sure to follow them on Facebook to check out their latest specials and promotions.