Don’t tell Hank’s Oyster Bar (Old Town Alexandria), Brine (Mosaic District) or Social Restaurant & Oyster Bar (McLean), but “anytime we want oysters we have to go to D.C. for it,” says Rick Allison, who on Thursday will open King Street Oyster Bar in Leesburg. (Allison drives to Pearl Dive Oyster Palace on 14th Street, in case you were wondering.)
“No one’s doing it, and I think there’s a big need for it,” says Allison about why, after opening a sandwich shop and food truck, Pittsburgh Rick’s, he decided to focus on the bivalve of the moment.
But seafood isn’t new to Allison, formerly of The Dock at Lansdowne—regulars will once again see his macadamia mahi mahi and Parmesan trout.
The oyster bar, with a couple dedicated shuckers, will feature about 10 different oysters from this coast, the other coast and up to British Columbia. And in an affront to the local-or-else food movement, Allison freely admits his favorite oysters come from the West Coast. “I like it less briny and a little bit sweeter,” he says, giving a shout-out to the California Kumamoto oyster, which will appear on the debut menu.
Oysters will also be grilled (and garnished with the likes of crab, tasso ham and roasted corn) and fried (for a po’boy). The rest of the menu leans toward the sea with salmon, crab cakes, king crab legs, mussels, a shrimp-chicken-andouille gumbo and a Colombian-style ceviche with snapper, shrimp and scallops dressed with lime and cilantro, a nod to a family recipe from his business partner, Jorge Esguerra.
Desserts will include a chocolate mousse cake, bananas Foster cake and a white chocolate bread pudding. Old Ox and Lost Rhino will help fill the six tap lines (with another 10 bottles). expect to see the restaurant’s housemade ginger beer in a few cocktail creations.
Though the back patio won’t open until next week, the huge bay windows facing King Street will work for people-watching. Or just find a seat and at the shuckers’ counter. As for Allison himself, “I’m pretty quick,” at opening an oyster he says, “just a couple seconds.” // Opening Thursday: King Street Oyster Bar, 12 S. King St., Leesburg; 571-442-8068