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The elusive fried oyster

I'll give 'ya 50 bucks if you can point me in the direction of excellent fried oysters in the Philly suburbs. My experience in ordering them has resulted in oysters no larger than a quarter, half of which has been breading. Must I buy and cook my own to get something worthwhile? Sparn's in Manayunk (25 years ago) served huge, scrumptious oysters that were lightly battered and not at all greasy. I've spent almost three decades trying to replicate that experience.

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  1. Good question. I remember Kelly's on Mole Street as a kid in the 60's when the family would go down for dinner and I'd get fried oysters and chicken salad platter. They are my standard. As for current place, I don't know.
    For homemade, I found that using an egg batter with panko crumbs and a quick minute on each side gets the crispy outside and moist inside I like. I also use grapeseed oil (as it has the highest flashpoint of any cooking oil) and high heat to flash fry them.

    1. After three decades, I would imagine you already have your answer! I have yet to find a fried oyster in the Philadelphia area that compares to what I grew up eating. (in Maine) I make them myself. That said, there will most likely be one or two Hounds who know of a destination worth trying.

      1. Have you tried the new Sansom St. Oyster House? I know they offer them with their chicken salad and on their burgers. I can't seem to locate an online menu to see if they're a separate menu item or not.

        Edit: whoops, missed the suburban part. Still, if you get into the city, it's worth a shot.

        1. They sometimes have fried oysters at the R and S Keystone diner in Sellersville. They used to offer oyster stew as well once in awhile. I've never ordered them there. though I enjoy their fried shrimp and fried flounder. Next time they have them I'll give them a try and report back. Not sure if Sellersville counts as a Philly 'burb.

          1. Also not in the suburbs but Del Frisco's has them as an appetizer. I've had them in the Dallas location and they were excellent.

            3 Replies
            1. re: mddletown

              Saville's Diner (Boyertown on 73 near 100) has surprisingly good fried oysters on Fridays & sometimes Saturdays. Call ahead to see if they are on the menu.

              1. re: gakski

                Its a chain, but Legal Seafood does a decent but not great fried oyster. A variant that is fantastic are the Oyster PoBoys at Cajun Kate's in Berwyn.

                The Oyster House, which replaced Sansom Street Oyster House in Philadelphia does have fried oysters on the menu occasionally. I had dinner there last Tuesday and they were on the menu. They appear to rotate having either fried oysters or fried clams.

                1. re: cwdonald

                  Cajun Kate's is in Boothwyn, not Berwyn. I do love that place but I'm not crazy about their oyster dishes, the oysters come out of a plastic bucket, pre-shucked.

            2. Just this week my mom ordered fried oysters at Alison2 in Ft. Washington. Apparently she's hated oysters since a bad experience with them on the half-shell at Walt's over 30 years ago, but she went for it, and she LOVED them. Has been talking about them ever since. They were on the bar menu, which I know changes, so you may want to call ahead to see if they have them.

              I saw them, and they were definitely bigger than a quarter!

              3 Replies
              1. re: emblebug

                That's awesome that your mom finally got her oyster on again! My friend Ron is the same way. Forty years ago he got one bad oyster and that's all it took. I was kind of surprised, as it's been my experience with clams and oysters on the half shell that every two or three dozen or so you are bound to get one bad one. Shrug. Ron has yet to give them another chance and there is no arguing with that boy!

                1. re: givemecarbs

                  I don't know, a fried Oyster? I still like them raw. Raw, raw, raw, that's the spirit!

                  1. re: TwoBellies

                    I eat oysters raw 99% of the time. But when the mood strikes I want oyster stew or a fried oyster with a remoulade or homemade tarter.

              2. I have really enjoyed the fried oysters at La Cava in Ambler. Lucious!

                1 Reply
                1. re: kiwijen

                  i have had fried oysters at the restaurant at Normandy Farms in Blue Bell...they had like a three-piece option: fried, Rockefeller, and something else with a champagne-esque broth. pretty amazing. this was early 2007 though and they seem to change the menu frequently...

                2. Seafood Unlimited on 20th and Spruce. Best fried oysters in Philly, w/ homemade cocktail and tartar sauce.

                  1. While many of the places offered are not in the suburbs, have you tried Rusty's Schooner in Flourtown. I have not been there in a long time but my mother used to swear by their fried oysters. The place has been there forever. It's right across the street from Scoogi's.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Den

                      Without meaning offense, I must say that Rusty Schooner has pretty atrocious fried oysters: excessively battered, grease-sogged and lacking in oyster taste. When in the Flourtown area last year, I stopped at Rusty Schooner and ordered fried oysters and fries and then proceeded to take them to nearby Fort Washington Park. It could have been a pleasant experience, but the oysters and fries were such a disappointment that I've never returned to Rusty Schooner.

                      1. re: Enjoy Good Food

                        No offense would be taken. I've never had them there. My mom just used to like it. As an aside though, I wouldn't think fried oysters travel well.

                        1. re: Den

                          I'm not sure if "fried oysters travel well" when it comes to distance, but the nearby park that I took my fried oyster take-out to is about 3 mins. from Rusty Schooner. I sat at a table in the park watching the raptors, squirrels and rabbits. And, I decided NOT to harm the wildlife by giving them morsels from my unedible take-out. Den, I figure that Rusty Schooner has declined a lot since your Mom used to like it.

                    2. Best fried oysters I ever had were at the Union League in Philly. That was about 15+ years ago. Tried them at a couple of places that I don't recall since then but probably haven't ordered them in the last 6-7 years because I gave up trying to find a place that made them without over-breading, and over-cooking them. If you come up with a place, let me know, I'll give it a shot.

                      1. Again, another burbs option...how about the Blue Bell Inn. We hit BBI for lunch sometimes and I'll admit I'm not a fried oyster guy but pretty much everything there is good "country club" type fare. I just checked and they do have fried oysters on the menu for $8.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Den

                          Den, your suggestion of the Blue Bell Inn is a very convenient possibility! Thanks for that. Must admit that the fried oysters at The Blue Horse in Blue Bell/Ambler were very tasty several years ago, but they were so tiny that I had trouble locating them on my plate.

                          1. re: Enjoy Good Food

                            If Perkasie is not too far, A Country Place on 313 was excellent last time I was there which was quite some time ago. Plump, fresh and hand breaded.

                            1. re: sokojojn

                              Please forgive me SOKOJOJN.....I know this is going to sound like the woman who refused a life preserver because its color clashed with her attire, but Perkasie is way beyond my traveling circle. I'd have to invent a reason to venture there, besides the lure of good fried oysters. These days I'm just not into obsessing about food to that degree but I have registered your recommendation and hope to someday experience Perkasie.

                              1. re: Enjoy Good Food

                                Country Place used to have Great Fried oysters, but I think they stopped making them themselves. Last two times I had them, i have been disapointed.

                                In Quakertown (surprisingly) Captain Bobs sells them ala carte. Giant oysters are $1.00 - $1.50 each and are pretty darn good. You can get them uncooked as takeout as well.

                                Perkasie has a new restaurant, Maize, that's gotten good reviews. Personally, I'd rather take a drive through farmland any day versus sitting on 95 to go to the city, but different strokes! :)

                                Country Place
                                Rts 313 563, Perkasie, PA 18944

                                1. re: sommrluv

                                  It has been a few years since I've had them at Country Place as I don't get up that way much anymore. Thanks for the heads up sommrluv.

                                  1. re: sokojojn

                                    No problem. We have gotten takeout there fairly regularly (well, for us...once every couple months) and I really haven't been disapointed in the food. How can you when a cheesesteak is $3? :)

                                    But they are still a good bet for fried chicken on the way to the lake!

                              2. re: sokojojn

                                Emil's on 113 has great oyster pie and stew......for sure about this one....i miss it big time.

                                1. re: monchichi

                                  Emil's is so wildly popular. My husband is a huge fan of their oyster pie. I can't deal with the texture of poached or stewed oysters.

                          2. As mentioned, The Blue Bell Inn is a solid choice for fried oysters.

                            1. They are often on the menu as an appetizer at Bunha Faun in Frazer (or Malvern). No chicken salad, though, but perfectly respectable fried oysters.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: FrancisdeR

                                Agreed. Always have enjoyed their fried oysters

                              2. Yes, you must buy and cook your own. No kidding.

                                1 Reply
                                1. I don't know if you consider South Jersey a Philly burb, but the best fried oysters that I've had were at Merryfield's Bar in Oaklyn, NJ. They only serve them on Thursdays, which is seafood night. It's just a local, yocal dive-y kind of bar but the oysters are fresh and breaded on site.