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August, 2013, Page 183
Photos by Dominic Valente
Little Cleo’s Seafood Legend
Cool, briny and sublime, oysters take you to the beach in one fell slurp.
Little Cleo’s Seafood Legend
5632 N. Seventh St., Phoenix
There’s an age-old saying, “Never eat shellfish in a month without an R.” But as the fine chefs at this new fish-focused Sam Fox eatery know, that’s bunk. Oysters are perfectly healthful and delicious year-round, and Cleo’s fishmongers know where to find the freshest harvest. Raw oysters might include Blue Point (Great South Bay), Paradise Cove, Fanny Bay and Kusshi (British Columbia), Katama Bay (Massachusetts), and Hood Canal (Washington State). Tip: Sit at the 12-seat bar to watch the shucking action and chat with diners about their favorite selections. Chef de cuisine Andrew Ashmore serves oysters by the half-dozen with no embellishment necessary but a bit of mignonette or house-made cocktail sauce.
550 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale
Ye olde Salt Cellar has been a south Scottsdale institution since 1971. The hook is the fresh fish – sourced daily from seaside locales like Hawaii, Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay, and New Zealand – as well as the setting. Tucked three flights down an antique wooden staircase, the dimly lit underground eatery has a cool, ocean cave-like feel that’s especially seductive in summer. Delicate delights like chilled Blue Point oysters are shucked to order and served on the half shell. Salt Cellar also serves a noble version of oysters Rockefeller – a meaty quartet topped with tart spinach and Pernod sauce baked on a bed of rock salt to a melty, molten finish.
1720 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix
Every day, the Phoenix outpost of this SoCal seafood chain flies in fresh oysters like Eastern Blue Points, Hammersley, Hood Canal, and Kumiai from Baja. Checking off your half-shell selections on the chalkboard next to the sushi bar, you can request specialty dressings like wasabi lime vinaigrette or house-made cocktail sauce. The upscale nautical setting pairs perfectly with a plate of classic oysters Rockefeller, or you can lean Asian with the addictive oysters Pilikia, served raw and dressed with ponzu, scallions and fish roe. Stop in for happy hour (3:30-6:30 p.m. M-F; noon to 5 p.m. Sa-Su), when oysters are only $1.50 each, and a duo of oyster shooters costs $4. If you’re still craving shellfish, stop by the ice-filled case next to the lobster tank and buy some to go.
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