Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Henlopen City Oyster House/Salt Air and Why Bar Seats Are Better

Our good friend and part time chef/cook Michael Mooreland (known on past episdodes of "Michael Does Tapas") directed us to the Henlopen City Oyster House. Experienced to a good time with shellfish and happy hour drinks we hapilly accepted the challenge and rousted our butts for another adventure.

Happy hour starts at 3pm, can that be wrong? The Red Sox playing and beating the Yankees soundly while I slurped a variety of oysters next to the 5 women in the catty entourage of our party? The fact the smallish bar was jammed to standing room only and we nailed six seats within 5 minutes?

I am a believer that no matter how good the food, the ambiance makes or breaks a place. The bar room to the wonderful establishment is clean, bright, and is a shade of beige beachy brightness with weathered beach house planks comprising the walls. It's a place that feels high end and clean, but the cleanliness of the place drives it to that bright uplifting raw bar that instantly becomes a local "Cheers" joint.

Next door, Salt Air. Is it true we visited these establishments more than once? How else could we have known we could easilly water ourselves at the Raw Bar, take a break, and hit the happy hour next door? We will blame it on the bartender...

Habitually we tend to sit at the bar of any establishment. Call it my perpetual nature to kill a pint in less than five minutes, we like the availability of the savvy bartender. It's an upside. There is no awkward introduction from the waitstaff, or awkward waiting time. More importantly, there is not a long wait between drinks. Most importantly however, I feel we get the lay of the land in a new place. Hot spots, places to eat, places to go, things to do. The cadence of the talk is abrubt but generally warm with a New Yorker type attitude of pragmatism. And I dig pragmatic. I don't want to hear your fucking life story at least not for a few more pints...but I like to interact with you on a level that works for both.

At Salt Air, we hit the farm style table high top. Following suit that house made and homemade is the vogue rather than "Store Bought Chic" in the 1980s, we dove into tapas.

Paprika Grilled Wings

Watermelon, Pistachio, Mint, Tomato Salad

Mustard Cream and Country Ham Mussels (Warm bread for Sopping)

Tomato Salad with FRESH Bluecrab Dip

Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese

Scrupulously at each station of happy hour stoppage, our needs were attended, smiled upon, and quickly moved on as to say, "Welcome, thanks for coming, happy to have you, gotta roll". It's like many of our interactions in life. While we navigate with our small cadre of closests, we nimbly go the back and forth between our acquaintances. Bar seats, are the happy acquaintances in our busy life and are the reasons we dine and discriminate accordingly.

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