Ryleigh’s Oyster House

Dec 10, 2007


Baltimore’s oyster renaissance just took a huge leap forward with the birth of Ryleigh’s Oyster House in 2007. Baltimore, with its strategic spot at the head of the Chesapeake Bay, used to be the queen of oyster towns, with more shucking houses than any other. But its fortunes declined along with the Chesapeake oyster. Today, the last of the great packing houses, Harris Seafood on Kent Narrows, must shuck Gulf oysters to make up for what the local waters can’t provide. But when it comes to oyster bars, Baltimore is reviving. Nick’s Oyster Bar, a famous spot in equally famous Cross Street Market, is the traditional place to go. It can be great fun to get a few dozen oysters at Nick’s, along with some beer in plastic cups, and eat them standing around the upright barrels that serve as tables. But the oysters are Gulf oysters and solid, not great. Just across

Cross Street

from the Market, however, is Ryleigh’s. The décor includes a hand-painted map pinpointing the locations of many of Ryleigh’s favorite oysters. Pemaquids, one of the great Damariscotta oysters, ultra-briny and extremely firm, were on hand. Malpeques, Kumamotos, and a half-dozen others were en route for that evening. The shucker seemed pretty inexperienced, but that will get remedied with time.

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