CHASING THE MAP

Raw Oyster Heaven at The Franklin Oyster House

I think I died and went to oyster heaven. Either that, or a paid a visit to The Franklin Oyster House in Portsmouth, NH. I think it was the latter. Either way, they’re equals on the same playing field.

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It took me half of the summer to finally fulfill my longing desire for raw oysters. We have a few local restaurants that serve small plates of whatever one variety is on their menu, but I wanted more choice. I wanted to load up a tray with different oysters from different parts of the country and go into an oyster coma when I couldn’t eat any more.

My wish was fulfilled.

The Franklin Oyster House, to my surprise, has only been around for a few months. One hundred and fifty years prior, however, another restaurant by the name of the Franklin House of Fleet Street shucked oysters in the same vicinity. The Franklin Oyster House reestablished that long ago tradition, with their own twist on unique cocktails and creative dishes.

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Oyster Happy Hour is advertised as Monday-Friday, 4-6pm. We arrived on a Saturday, and I wasn’t expecting the Happy Hour to carry over to a weekend day. Much to my delight, it did. We happily scooted over to some empty seats at the bar.

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There were 3 oysters on special for $1.25 each, Cedar Point from New Hampshire, Chelsea Gem and Anchor Bay from Washington State. The oysters were fresh, cold, firm, and tasted extremely clean, and were served with both a horseradish and vinegar sauce on the side.

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After we indulged in 1 each to see which oysters we preferred, we then ordered another larger round of the 2 oysters we favored. I was not disappointed, and the tray was soon empty.

Not quite hungry for a full meal at this point, my husband Steve and I looked at the main menu and decided to sample some items from the charcuterie. Steve was eying the rabbit summer sausage and I the duck proscuitto. The waiter informed us that if you added another item, you could get all 3 for $21. I totally stepped out of my comfort zone and ordered the pig’s head terrine, and was so glad that I did. Each item was to die for, with varying degrees of saltiness, gelatinous texture, and tenderness.

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Cocktails are also very creative and I had a hard time choosing. I eventually selected the All About the Benjamins cocktail, made with vodka, red wine shrub, and champagne. This drink, in a word, was refreshing. I’ve had a thing lately for drinks made with bubbly, and this did not disappoint. My husband, more of a beer man, chose a local draft and was also happy with his choice.

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My husband and I often comment on how our local restaurants are so limited in variety and creativity. As a result, we don’t eat out that often. However, the 1 1/2 hour drive to Portsmouth, NH, was well worth it for the fresh, locally sourced food that we dined on, at a very reasonable cost.

I was already planning my return visit before I even got off the bar stool.

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