On this New Years Eve for my last post of 2013 I thought I would wrap up coverage of my recent visit to Portland, Oregon, with a post on another venerable seafood restaurant in Portland, Dan & Louis Oyster Bar. Because oysters and champagne go great together! And I believe Dan & Louis is open on New Years Eve (always call first).
In the 19th century the first oyster farm in Oregon, at Yaquina Bay, was started by Meinert Wachsmuth from Denmark. His son, Louis Wachsmuth, opened a small seafood shop and oyster bar in Portland in 1907, expanding into the former Merchants’ Exchange Saloon in 1919. To accomodate the demand for his popular oyster stew, Louis added a wonderful nautical themed dining room complete with a mast and porthole windows in 1937 and a ‘reserve’ dining room with a boat-shaped exhibition style kitchen in 1940. Both dining rooms and the bar are still in use and are chock full of bric-à-brac, nautical artifacts, and historic photographs of Pacific Northwest fishing and boating scenes, many wonderfully displayed in backlit porthole ‘windows’.
On Dan & Louis’ web site the restaurant claims it is the “Oldest Family Owned Restaurant in Town”. Huber’s Cafe has been in the same family’s ownership since 1912, and claims to be Portland’s oldest restaurant, which is true according to my criteria since it dates back to 1895 as Huber’s. But Dan & Louis technically started in 1907 by Louis Wachsmuth (although not in its present location until 1919) and amazingly it is still owned by the same family. Currently it is operated by Doug Wachsmuth (grandson of Louis Sr.) and his sons Ted and Meinert Keoni Wachsmuth. So, it beats Huber’s by a mere 5 years to have the honor of being Portland’s oldest family owned restaurant. In case you’re wondering where Dan fits in their history, he was Louis and Elizabeth Wachsmuth’s second son (their first was Louis Jr.) who died tragically at only 27 years old, so his name was added to Louis’ name on the restaurant’s sign in memorial.
Their specialty, oysters, come in several varieties from the Pacific Northwest, which change daily. I ordered a half-dozen oysters on the half shell in an assortment (two of each of three different varieties). All were extremely fresh and tasty. Some of the best oysters I’ve ever had! The price varies but during happy hour (M-F from 4:00pm-6:00pm) you can get a dozen for $15.95 (bar only). I was in the mood for scallops so for my entrée I had the half portion broiled scallops platter (half portions are only on the lunch menu) with a cup of excellent smoked salmon chowder. The scallops were fresh and delicious. They are also famous for their seafood stews (oyster, crab, or bay shrimp), so they are another good choice.
Take it from Sebastian Cabot and eat at Dan and Louis Oyster Bar, Portland’s oldest family owned restaurant! Why not go tonight and start a New Years Eve tradition? Dan and Louis offers a good domestic sparkler, Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut, but at a hefty markup – $48/bottle (ouch). I would get a great local beer (also great with oysters) or wine.
Happy New Year, dear readers! I wish you many happy dining pleasures in 2014!
Dan and Louis Oyster Bar
208 SW Ankeny St, Portland, OR 97204
Open Mon-Th 11:00am-9:00pm (bar opens at 4pm), Fri-Sat 11:00am-2:00am (???), Sun 12:00pm-9:00pm (Le Continental always recommends phoning first to confirm, as I tried to visit on the Sunday before Labor Day a few years ago and it was closed)