A Recent Discovery was made in a history book of the Easton & Phillipsburg area of the early 20th century. A page in the book pictured “Rice’s Oyster House”, circa 1908 on Northampton Street in Easton, PA, at the site of the current Hotel Easton. Rice’s Oyster House was sold to Bob Youell in the 1930’s and the name changed.
Many things have changed over the last 120 years, however, the annual offering of Fresh Soft Shell Crabs and Oysters continues to be a tradition at Youell’s:
Though 18th century satirist Jonathan Swift once wrote, “He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.” This bivalve has been a culinary favorite for thousands of years. The hard, rough, gray shell contains a meat which can vary in color from creamy beige to pale gray, in flavor from salty to creamy and in texture from tender to firm. There are both natural and cultivated oyster beds. In the United States, there are four primary species of oysters that are commercially harvested – Pacific (or Japanese), Eastern (or Atlantic) and the Olympia, (Pacific Northwest), and Belon (European). Each species is sold under a variety of names depending on the exact location of harvest.
The FDA has created the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Guide, which provides the minimum requirements to participate in interstate commerce of shellfish. These guidelines also establish a standard for the sale and distribution of shellfish:
- All shellfish come from approved bodies of water.
- All bodies of water are monitored for bacteria.
- Each order is tagged for date and location of harvest.
- Dealers and distributors must keep hourly temperature logs.
Youell’s Oyster House has been serving Oysters since the restaurant’s founding in the 1800’s. We handle many differing varieties of oysters based on size, taste and origin. Typically, our oysters come from the Chesapeake Bay region, the Mid Atlantic, New England, and the Canadian Maritime Provinces. We have daily deliveries to ensure fresh oysters that are at their peak flavor. State and Federal management programs, along with the indigenous families that work the waters, have created a fishery that is sustainable, and able to provide a constant and varied supply of fresh oysters. Oystermen, who had once feared the end of their livelihood, due to overfishing and pollution, have realized resurgence in stocks from the now pristine waters.
We offer oysters in the following preparations:
- Raw, on the half-shell, served with homemade cocktail sauce, mignonette and flavored ices.
- Rockefeller, baked with our spinach mixture and cheddar cheese.
- Stew – simply shucked oysters, oyster liquor, cream and a touch of butter.
- Fried, freshly shucked oysters breaded to order, deep fried and served with cocktail or tartar sauce.
- Chef’s Featured Presentations of the day.
Soft Shell Crabs
A seasonal favorite, soft shells are typically available from early spring through early autumn. Soft shell is a culinary term for crabs which have recently molted their old shell, which they have grown out of, exposing the newly developing shell which is soft and edible. This means that the entire crab can be eaten, rather than having to shell the crab to reach the meat. The close relationship Youell’s has with sources of soft shell crabs allows for daily deliveries throughout the season. Crabs are shipped live, packed in seaweed.
We serve soft shells breaded and deep fried, or sautéed in butter with garlic lemon and wine.
The official definition of a couple of our specialties that we’re proud of:
A celebrated seafood stew from Provence, made with an assortment of fish and shellfish (clams, mussels, shrimp, lobster, scallops and fish), onions, tomatoes, white wine, olive oil, garlic, saffron and herbs. The stew is ladled over a thick slice of French bread.
A Spanish dish of saffron-flavored rice combined with a variety of meats and shellfish (mussels, shrimp, fish, lobster, chicken and chorizo), garlic, onions, peppers, peas, and tomatoes. It’s named after the special two-handled pan – also called paella – in which it’s prepared and served. The pan is wide, shallow and 14 inches in diameter.
San Francisco’s Italian immigrants are credited with creating this delicious fish stew. We start by cooking the bones of the fish we filet, until a rich broth is created. to this we add plum tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs. Upon order, we finish by stewing a variety of fish and shellfish, and serve it in a large bowl.