September has long been the month for oyster house openings in Charleston, and Neighborhood Dining Group’s newest restaurant isn’t bucking the tradition.
The News and Courier on Sept. 19, 1889 reported that eight to 10 downtown saloons had already set up oyster stations, despite lingering warm weather. “Those who have started keep it up merely on principle and to oblige visitors from the interior, who invariably, on arriving on the late trains at night go at once to an oyster house for a dozen on the half shell.”
In the years before modern refrigeration, oyster houses resorted to various techniques to keep their oysters relatively cool. A worker identified as “a King Street oyster man” told the paper he kept oysters fresh for days on ice by sprinkling them with cornmeal. C.W. Bailey at the West End Oyster House, which offered home delivery by the bushel or gallon, promised that his oysters wouldn’t spoil because he kept them underwater.
- By Amanda Hancock firstname.lastname@example.org
While Delaney Oyster House, 115 Calhoun St., hasn’t mentioned cornmeal or water tanks in its press materials, the restaurant describes itself as committed to “revitalizing the Lowcountry’s place in the history of America’s traditional oyster houses.” Its all-day menu includes octopus escabeche, shrimp gazpacho, fish beignets and blue crab rice, in addition to a selection of raw shellfish and caviar.
And in a definite departure from the nineteenth-century oyster houses attached to saloons, Delaney also offers a children’s menu with fish and chicken nuggets.
Delaney Oyster House opens daily at 11:30 a.m. and then closes at 2:30 p.m. It reopens at 4:30 p.m., staying open until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It closes at 10 p.m. on other nights. Delaney does not accept reservations.
For more information, visit delaneyoysterhouse.com or call 843-594-0099.