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A short but perfect menu is on offer at Hog Island Oyster Co., a small, modern oyster bar in the Ferry Building. There is a U-shaped counter and half a dozen tables inside, plus two picnic tables on the Embarcadero promenade outside, all overlooking the bay -- and often a line of people waiting for them, with good reason.
Fresh oysters are a time-tested holiday tradition in homes across the country, and as of yesterday the superlative Hog Island Oyster Co. started accepting orders for nationwide Christmas and New Years... More »
I don't know how many more favorable things can be said about Hog Island Oyster Company. As far as I can see, the only con I can think of is their limited seating. Granted, there's additional outdoor seating, but given San Francisco's upredictably chill weather, you have to be pretty darn thick-skinned to tough it outside. But there's no reason to lower their rating, afterall, the vibe of the Ferry Building are stalls and there's a nice communal feeling with everyone slurping their oysters elbow-to-elbow. I revisited Hog Island the other day for their Thursday happy hour special (Monday's too, 5-7pm) after a year hiatus and it was almost everything I remembered. $1 oysters, $3.50 beers (used to be $2) and a huge line for seating. If you want to brave H.I. for their HH, either get there early or have at least one person get there first because people don't leave once they sit down. Their $1 specials are usually for just 1 or 2 of the oysters on the menu; we had their H.I. Sweetwaters which are scrumptious. I favor west coast oysters for their small, plump meat (kumamotos are my favorite) rather than east coast ones which taste to me brinier and more fishy. I've been to Swan Oyster Depot, which is another SF destination, and call me high maintenance but having the champagne mignonette, large ice platters, and no shell chips in my half shell makes a world of difference. You also get Acme bread which goes wonderfully with the oysters and clam chowder. The Clam Chowder. Something to think back on and savor in a daydream. It's not so much chowder as it is a creamy broth but their take on a common favorite is divine. You get a bowful of fresh clams still in their shells and a clam infused soup that will have you sopping your bowl with bread long after you've finished. Since the soup isn't masked by heavy cream or starch, you can really tast the clam flavor as well as the bacon pieces. We also ordered their grilled cheese sandwich which had Cowgirl Creamery's Mezzo Secco, cave-aged Gruyere and Fromage Blanc (basically cheeses that give off a delightfully sharp aroma when grilled) and came with yummy pickled okra, cauliflower and of course pickles (reminded me of the pickled baby carrots at Tartine Bakery). Definitely a meal in its own right or cut it up into finger sandwiches and share among friends. For the beer selection, I went with the Blue Star America Wheat Beer which paired wonderfully with the sweetwaters. The beer is light and crisp and didn't coat my mouth with beer scum and allowed me to enjoy the sweetness of the oysters. Total count for the night: 7 dozen oysters for 6 girls. Would've had more if the happy hour lasted longer!!
Swan Oyster Depot 1517 Polk (at California), 673-1101 Hog Island Oyster Co. 1 Ferry Building, No. 11A, Market & Embarcadero, 391-7117, www.hogislandoysters.com We can't choose between these two places: one of San Francisco's oldest eateries and one of its newest. It depends on our mood. Is our mouth watering for the world's best crab Louis? Then we wait in line on Polk Street for a seat at Swan's well-worn marble counter. Do we hanker for a view of the bay? Then we wait... More »
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