Swan Oyster Depot, San Francisco, 12/30/17

front
front

Swan Oyster Depot has been around a long time and always popular but of late the popularity has shot up so that you can regularly depend on at least an hour wait to get in and this is even if you line up prior to opening.  Trick there is to get there early enough to be in the first wave that is seated on the only 18 stools.  Another option is to order the food for takeout but I don’t think it’d be the same to eat it without the show behind the counter.  It is a sliver of a restaurant with passage for about one person behind the stools – some of that was due to coats being hung on the hangers.  It hasn’t changed in the number of years we’ve been going, even the personnel.  You get to walk through part of the kitchen to get to the one bathroom but most of the food is assembled or readied up front.  

awning
awning
waiting to get in
line to get in
interior before ready for guests
interior before ready for guests
menu
menu
inside
inside
filled up
filled up
crew
behind the counter
window of seafood
window of seafood

 

Everything is ultra fresh and the menu is seafood only with the exception of the complimentary bread and butter.  Mounds of ice hold lots of different fish and shellfish along the counter (separated by a glass) and in the front display window looking out to the street.  The fresh Dungeness crab is my favorite and we were ultra lucky as they have  not been able to get it for days but the day we went they’d gotten in a shipment.  Normally they offer it in the shell and you pick it out or you can get the already picked meat.  On our visit only the former was available which isn’t too bad as the crabs are large and the chunks of meat are easily retrieved.   If they have it I get the combination salad with crab and shrimp, so on this visit we got the salad (with shrimp only) and 1/2 cracked crab on the side and made our own.  The salad comes with a sauce of Louie dressing (that mildly resembles thousand island) and this visit it was packed with 3 kinds of shrimp, small and  large cooked and some raw.  It is filled out with a bunch of lettuce that absorbs the dressing but the shrimp are the stars.  With the crab you can ask for a Dijon crab fat vinaigrette that also goes well with both.  Additionally there is a trio of sauces on the bar, one of which is a hot sauce that adds a nice touch to the mixture.  On this visit the bread was a tad dry which was fine cause this way we filled up on lots of tender, sweet and freshly cooked crab meat.  It was wonderful.

shrimp salad
shrimp salad
dressing
dressing
another salad
another salad
closer
closer
bread and butter
bread and  butter
half cracked crab
half cracked crab
crab dressing
crab dressing
lemons
lemons
Frankie checked out the seafood
Frankie checked out the seafood

 

crew
crew

 

They offer an interesting dish called a crab back which is just the shell with a bit of juice and butter in it to be eaten with the bread.  It seemed quite popular but I didn’t try one.  Service is efficient and ultra friendly and along with the lively banter amongst those working there.  It makes a fun vibe and a spot not to be missed it you have the patience.

crab back
crab back
front window from the inside
front window from the inside
Frankie read an article about the place
Frankie read an article about the place
IMG_0651
decorations
decorations
decorations
Frankie watched the action
Frankie watched the action
oyster shucking area
oyster shucking area
another angle
another interior
Frankie posed with something official
Frankie posed with something official
Frankie thought it looked crowded back there
Frankie thought it looked crowded back there
their Christmas tree
their Christmas tree
from the door
from the door
sfaff and Frankie
Staff and Frankie

 

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