The holidays are the perfect time for oyster consumption — for enjoying those succulent, briny little bivalve mollusks that are best served raw on ice with hot horseradish or baked to perfection with cheese and spinach.
And after a bout of red tide — basically a harmful out-of-control bloom of algae — in the Gulf Coast this summer caused the Texas Department of State Health Services to ban oyster harvesting, Gulf Coast oysters are now back on menus everywhere.
And no more so than at Danton’s Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen. The six-year-old restaurant on Montrose Boulevard, run by lifelong friends Danton Nix and Kyle Teas, has a menu that reminds one of the famous Bubba scene in Forrest Gump, only with oysters instead of shrimp. They have oysters on the half shell, oysters Kyle —oysters sautéed in garlic lemon butter served with cheesy garlic bread to sop up the liquid, oysters Rockefeller, baked oysters Dan, oyster stew, fried oysters and oyster Po’ Boys. Whew.
"We only serve oysters from the Gulf Coast, in particular from Galveston Bay and San Antonio Bay, because that’s what I grew up eating and I think they are better."
The Gulf Coast oyster ban was tough on Danton’s, where the special half-priced oysters on Monday night is a huge draw. It was a little over a month that the restaurant didn’t have any oysters, and Nix wouldn’t import New England versions.
“I grew up here,” says Nix, “fishing in the gulf and eating gulf seafood. We only serve oysters from the Gulf Coast, in particular from Galveston Bay and San Antonio Bay, because that’s what I grew up eating and I think they are better, bigger and sweeter than the ones from New England.”
Now that they’re back, Danton’s has been serving up 5,000 to 8,000 oysters each week. That’s a lot of bivalves, and you could pretty much eat some each day of the week in a different dish.
If you’re a fan of raw oysters, they are cold and fleshy here with a kick-ass horseradish (made from scratch like everything else in the kitchen daily) but I think it’s the baked oysters that really wow. Oysters Rockefeller, one of my personal favorites and a classic for any holiday party, are wonderful but the oyster Dan is superb.
Similar to oysters Rockefeller, Nix’s version has a half dozen freshly shucked Gulf Coast oysters drenched in garlic butter, topped with lump crab meat, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and Dan’s special spice and baked to wonderfulness.
Oh, and then there’s a baked version topped with housemade tasso, a hunk of shoulder pork heavily seasoned with Cajun spices and smoked until crispy and delicious. It creates a party in your mouth with the juicy oysters. Nix also adds his tasso to the oyster stew for an added kick.
So this holiday season why not enjoy the bounty of Gulf Coast oysters? They are low in fat but high in the good omega 3 fatty acids and zinc. Serve them up at your holiday shindigs or hit up a place like Danton’s where you can enjoy and not have to do the dishes later.