There’s a new kid on the block in Petaluma, and I’m glad to say it’s a welcome addition to the local dining scene: The Shuckery on East Washington at Kentucky—an oyster bar and restaurant—has a fairly simple menu focused on local seafood: from raw and baked oysters to fish tacos, salads and an entire rock cod.
The brainchild of sisters, Aluxa and Jazmine Lalicker, The Shuckery is part of the renaissance of the 1923 Hotel Petaluma, which incidentally now boasts a bar that you might actually want to sit in on a chilly winter’s night.
I’ve been in Petaluma for nearly five years now and have seen Central Market uphold and carry the standard for great food in Petaluma, with narry a serious challenger (much to my chagrin). With the arrival of The Shuckery at the beginning of August, all that is changing. And if you believe that competition is a good thing, here’s hoping it busts open the door for more contenders in Petaluma.
First The Shuckery’s interior. Clean, simple and airy, the high ceilinged dining room has been stylishly kitted out with a combination of tan leather chairs and mid-century modern woven seats. City hipster meets coastal chic with a dash of farm-to-table. And it works. One of my favorite features is the beautiful earth-fired aqua tiles along the bar. Curvaceous and flowing, they are there to remind you of the ocean. The artwork includes a peaceful mural and a large multimedia piece in tones of white.
We’ve visited twice and tried almost everything on offer at this point. On our second visit with my mum, who is visiting from the U.K., and without sounding highly inappropriate here, we were rather pleased to be tended to by a handsome waiter. My mum put it best: “It’s rather nice to have Leonardo di Caprio pour your wine.” #word
If you’re an oyster fan, that’s an obvious place to start with two local varieties on the night we visited, and two from further afield, including Washington. Six oysters are priced at $16.
We’ve also tried the ceviche ($12) a couple of times, it comes with true cod, shrimp, citrus, chili, cilantro with piquillo coulis. Topped with avocado, it’s tasty, but could probably benefit from a lighter sauce – the thing I like most about ceviche is the lightness of an acidic dressing. I was pleased to find better (homemade?) tortilla chips with the ceviche on our second visit – the first time they definitely appeared to have come out of a bag.
Monkey loves him a clam chowder ($9) and he’s ordered it twice. Full of big chunks of fish, clams and potatoes. In his words “it’s amazing” and every spoon is generously full of goodies.
My mum ordered the arugula and peach salad with Humboldt Fog goat cheese and pistachios ($9) and a copious heap of nicely dressed greens arrived and was duly dealt with.
On a prior visit, we had ordered the whole roasted rock cod (a whopping $34) – a fish I recently discovered in filet form. It’s a tad intimdiating as a whole fish with its giant eye and large bone. It would have been great if our server had offered to de-bone it for us, but no matter it tasted good.
We’ve also tried the Baja-style fish tacos ($14) and the stuffed calamari relleno ($26) and both were solid. The wine list features locally made choices and the desserts are tempting enough. We tried the dueling budinos (caramel, chocolate, banana, bacon and peanut butter custards) for $9.
Word is that The Shuckery is going to start serving food in the bar of Hotel Petaluma. A place to grab a cocktail and decent appetizers is something else this town has been sorely missing. I’m rooting for this newly revitalized corner of our little cow town to go from strength to strength, go give it a try.
The Shuckery has gotten busy fast. Make reservations here.