Restaurant names like Family Meal and Drafting Table may have insider-y appeal, but when it comes to working up an appetite, few have done it better than the newly opened Grilled Oyster Company, a Chesapeake-influenced seafood restaurant in Potomac.
Husband-and-wife team Rick and Valerie Dugan have partnered with fellow O’Donnell's Sea Grill vet Chris Morris to deliver the barbecued bivalves three ways: Rockefeller style, with bacon and Pernod cream; Southwestern style, under a blanket of green chili hollandaise; and “Rick’s signature,” topped with cucumber relish and barbecue sauce. A chalkboard menu lists varieties of oysters such as Malpeque, Blue Point, and Chesapeake for fresh shucking—it’s one of a few seafood-shack touches in the sleek 130-seat dining room, outfitted with white tablecloths, nautical prints, and a giant metal Chesapeake crab sculpture.
The Dugans have released a limited menu during the restaurant's soft opening, but the full lineup includes classics like crabcakes, fried clams, and oyster stew alongside dishes you’d see less frequently in a Maryland seafoodery, such as mussels with Thai basil and curry or cioppino. Daily lunch service started yesterday with the likes of a fried-oyster-topped spinach salad and a shrimp po ’boy on the way; happy hour (Monday through Friday) is set to launch in the coming days with food and drink specials from 3:30 to 7. Saturday and Sunday brunch is slated to debut the weekend after next. Look for eggs Benedict with crab, shrimp and grits, pitchers of mimosas and sangria for sharing, and French presses filled with Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company coffee.
The Grilled Oyster Company. 7943 Tuckerman La. (inside the Cabin John Shopping Center), Potomac; 301-299-9888. Open daily 11 to 10, with possible later closing times on weekend nights.