The Place: G&B Oyster bar has an open front facing the parking lot and the International Swimming Hall of Fame document dock house next to the marina where mega yachts are stored. It has high top tables and a bar with stools. The space is named for the owners’ son Gates and daughter Bennett. It is dimly lit and fills up quickly even on a Tuesday night — when bottles of wine are half off. There’s a small three-seat counter at the oyster bar with big glass cases of crushed ice holding seven varieties of mostly East Coast oysters that are shucked as one watches. The bar space merges into Coconuts restaurant, and you can walk through it to get to the outdoor deck, where tables overlook the water and you can enjoy the sunset.
The History: Restaurateur Elliot Wolfe owns both places, buying Coconuts 10 years ago when it was a popular spring break spot. Five years ago he bought a former pro dive shop next door, tore down a wall and created the oyster bar. General Manager Tim Lane has been friends with Elliot for 28 years, when they both trained at a Houston’s right out of college. They also both worked for Lettuce Entertain You in Chicago, where Tim was also the seafood buyer for Shaw’s Crab House. They often travel together to visit oyster farms on both coasts. They regularly visit seafood farmers, buying from them directly. Chef Steve Shockey is from a small town outside Dallas and was the manager for an Anheuser-Busch distributor but always loved cooking. He graduated with honors from the School of Culinary Arts at the Art Institute of Houston and came to South Florida 15 years ago to work for the Max’s Grille organization.
The Food: There’s gumbo, chowders, sandwiches, fried frog legs, braised alligator ribs, clams Casino, oysters Rockefeller, Portuguese sardines, shrimp salted in the shell and grilled as well as crudo and ceviche of the day and vodka oyster shooters. There’s also fish of the day, buttermilk-brined fried chicken and a New York strip steak. The main draw is cold water oysters served with mignonette. Find selections like firm Fisher’s Island oysters from New York with a sweet balanced brine; Moose Cove oysters from New Hampshire that are sweet with a mild brine and hint of melon; pemaquid from Maine that are briny and lemony; bay points from New Hampshire that begin briny and end sweet; Dutch Island oysters from Rhode Island with a mineral saltiness and umami finish; earthy, briny beavertails from Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, with a sweet finish; and wawenauk from Maine that are light, briny and lemony. Desserts change daily, made in house. Hope for chocolate chip pecan pie or warm pecan bread pudding.
You Didn’t Know This: Fun oyster facts: An old aphorism is that oysters are plumper and meatier in months with an “r” in the name, when some people call them “arsters.” Oysters have the ability to change their sex to keep a balance of females and males for mating purposes. Eating four oysters a day gives you a complete daily supply of copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. Legend holds that the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, emerged from the sea in an oyster shell — one reason oysters are considered an aphrodisiac.
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If You Go
Place: G&B Oyster Bar
Address: 429 Seabreeze Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale (near the International Swimming Hall of Fame)
Hours: Monday-Friday 4 p.m.-10 p.m., Saturday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Prices: Soups/chowders $9-$12, sandwiches $12-$16, seafood $8-$15, ribs $10-$12
F.Y.I. Happy hour is 4-6 p.m. daily when medium, clean tasting barcat oysters from Chesapeake Bay are seven for $6 and beer and wine are a dollar off. Every Tuesday and Friday seafood paella with chorizo is available at 6:30 (watch it being made) for $34, big enough for two to share.