Hog Island Oyster Co.: Bringing Bivalves from Bay to Bay

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Oysters San Francisco

Hog Island Oyster Co. boosted their profile by opening a Ferry Building raw bar.

John Finger, Terry Sawyer and Michael Watchorn founded Hog Island Oyster Co. in 1983 along Tomales Bay, about an hour north of San Francisco. Since then, the trio has increased the size of their oyster farm from 10 to 160 acres and boosted their production to 3 million oysters a year. In 2004, since not everybody likes to drive the nausea-inducing stretch of Highway 1 to reach Tomales Bay, they opened an oyster bar at the Ferry Building. It’s not plucking and shucking right from the oyster beds, but it’s pretty damn close, since the bivalves are harvested daily and driven right to the Ferry Building.

Picnic tables line the outside of the Ferry Building, overlooking the bay, but it was blindingly sunny, so we sat indoors. Not that we suffered.


Oysters San Francisco

It was fun to watch Hog Island’s all-pro oyster shuckers in action behind the sleek bar.

Oysters San Francisco

For an even more refined dining experience, the bar offers chilled Champagne and white wine to accompany oysters.

My dad isn’t much of an oyster fan, so he opted for a bowl of cooked-to-order clam chowder.

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The refined chowder ($12) utilized a yellow cream base, a heap of Manila clams still in the shell, bacon, thyme and veggies like potatoes and carrots that soaked up the delicious cream.

Hog Island offered three other varieties of oysters, but Jane and I stuck with the two varieties from Tomales Bay.

Oysters San Francisco

Hog Island Sweetwaters and Atlantics ($13 total) arrived on a platter of ice with strands of seaweed and a metal dish of mignonette in the middle, made with rice vinegar and shallots. I was impressed with the Atlantics, but the Sweetwaters were especially great, noticeably, well, sweeter.

Oysters San Francisco

We also split two baked oyster dishes (4 bivalves and $9 apiece). Oysters Citron baked with lemon, garlic, parsley and butter were so outstanding, I slurped sauce straight from shells. I also liked Oysters Casino, baked with bacon, butter and paprika.

Hog Island has built an oyster oasis that warrants big demand at the Ferry Building.

Hog Island Oyster Co.: Bringing Bivalves from Bay to Bay

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Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

Hi to John Finger who played in my yard as a little boy and who’s dad and mom are among my closest lifetime friends. Haven’t seen you since your sister’s wedding and that has been much too long. Glad to see that your business has been so successful.

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