CHICAGO - Shaw's Crab House has been around for more than three decades, and one tradition they keep alive each year is their annual Oyster Fest.
Their 29th just got under way on Thursday, and our Hungry Hound said even if you don't like raw oysters, there are plenty of cooked options on the menu this week.
Shucking and slurping has been a part of the fabric of Shaw's Crab House for three decades, especially in the Oyster Bar, where they'll be doing much of the celebrating.
"We've got slurp-off contests here in the oyster bar that we always do all through the week. We've got oyster hours and special oyster menus all through the 10 days of Oyster Fest," said Bill Nevruz, the Managing Partner at Shaw's.
But it's not all raw. This year, as in years past, the kitchen also cooks oysters for at least a half dozen different dishes.
"Ranging from oyster po'boys that's a great lunch item, all the way through some baked oyster dishes, fried oyster dishes, and one of my personal favorites, Alaskan cod with an oyster pan roast that comes with it that is savory and wonderful," he said.
The po'boys contain several fried beauties, crispy outside, plump within, placed over shredded lettuce and sliced tomato in griddled New England-style buns. Their Oysters Rockefeller is a bit more involved: large, briny bivalves are covered with a mixture of parmesan, jarlsberg and cream cheese, along with peppers and spinach. First baked, then moved to the broiler to crisp them up, they're ideal with a squeeze of lemon.
Buffalo-style is another option: a homemade version with hot sauce and butter is topped with a fried oyster, as well as some coolilng blue cheese sauce and finely-diced celery. Nevruz says there are no shortage of cooked oyster options this year.
"If you came everyday of Oyster Fest, you could eat oysters differently each time," said Nevruz.
So this is the year for you, if you're not one of those people who likes raw oysters, lots of cooked options for you at Shaw's this Oyster Fest, and if you are one of those folks - like me - who like them raw, plenty of slurping opportunities through the 15th.
In Steve's extra course, he asks Shaw's managing partner to show him how to properly shuck an oyster.
Extra course: Shucking oysters at Shaw's Crab House
Shaw's Crab House
21 E. Hubbard St.