Little Bites: Local restaurant news

Dollar oysters Tuesday nights at Salt

Take heed, oyster fans. Starting at 10 p.m. until 1 a.m. on Tuesdays, executive chef Kevin Sousa and chef de cuisine Chad Townsend will be shucking oysters for late-night diners at Salt of the Earth in Garfield. Inspired by Foreign & Domestic in Austin, Texas, Mr. Sousa has come up with his own menu.

Each oyster is only a buck, served with house-made crackers, mignonette and a barrel-aged hot sauce extracted from Garfield Farms peppers.

No longer relegated to months that end in "r," oysters are having a comeback via aquaculture. Diners can eat oysters in summer thanks to the raising of a type that does not spawn, which renders them inedible.

Many oysters eaten in summer come from colder waters of the North, as opposed to the Chesapeake Bay, where Rappahannock River Oyster Co. has set up shop.

This week's trio included the slightly briny and refined Beausoleils from New Brunswick, which the author of "The Oyster Guide," Rowan Jacobsen, calls a "starter oyster," for a "guaranteed successful first experience." Also on the menu were Prince Edward Island Malpeques, the rival to the ubiquitous Bluepoints. Mr. Jacobsen notes they're in between Beausoleils and Kusshis due to bold flavor and a clean finish. The third option was the British Columbia Emerald Cove, cited for its mild "creamed cucumber" flavor. Varietals will vary weekly.

On the menu, for now: Soft shell crabs

Soft shell crabs from the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland are making their way onto menus around town.

The season begins near the first full moon of May and continues through September, when waters are warm and crabs molt.

The season is off to a tenuous start.

"It's very slow at the present time," said Robert T. Brown, president of the Maryland Watermen's Association. "Catches are about a million less than they were at this time last year."

It may have something to do with Hurricane Sandy, he said, but at this point, "It's too early to tell."

At Dish Osteria on the South Side, chef Michele Savoia has it on the menu as a first course for $10, served with rainbow chard and chickpea fritters. Avenue B in Shadyside serves a fried soft shell crab as an entree, with a pair of seared Dayboat scallops, sticky rice, house-made kimchi and lap chong (Chinese sausage) for $28.

Prime-sized Maryland crabs are also for sale for $7.99 apiece at Penn Avenue Fish Co. in the Strip District. It's easy to pan saute a few to serve yourself one of the most delicious dishes of the season.

Correction (updated May 16, 2013): In an earlier version, the neighborhood location of Avenue B was given incorrectly.


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