Petaluma seems to be smitten with brunch. There are no less than a dozen choices, although unlike the traditional buffet offering, our restaurants, by and large, stick to the menu. And why not? With such great cuisine on our regular menus, a buffet could leave a bit to be desired, especially at a restaurant like The Shuckery, which securely holds a niche when it comes to our city’s unique culinary choices.
Petaluma’s first oyster bar in the past half century, The Shuckery opened its doors two years ago, and has become a go-to choice for fresh local and sustainable seafood. With seafaring roots, it was a natural fit for sisters Aluxa and Jazmine Lalicker to start a brick and mortar seafood restaurant after spending the prior decade running their Oyster Girls catering business.
The sisters originally came up with the idea while visiting New Orleans, which is famous for oysters and oyster bars. They saw a lot of similarities between the dining scenes of New Orleans and Petaluma, most noticeably that although the cuisine can be quite elegant, sometimes even served by tuxedo-clad wait staff, the atmosphere is a mixture of communal and jovial.
Aluxa still runs Oyster Girls, while Jaz handles the day to day at The Shuckery, as well as its satellite bar, Shuckery Parlor. Located directly next door, Shuckery Parlor offers beer and wine, along with appetizers from the restaurant’s menu, in the swanky yet comfortable restored lobby of the Hotel Petaluma.
With direct ties to local fisheries, and an acute understanding of aquaculture, Jaz is a wealth of information. Combining that with her youthful enthusiasm, she has trained her staff well and all can answer just about any question diners have in regards to what they are eating, where it came from and how it was raised or harvested.
Staffing has become a constant issue at Petaluma area restaurants, but after two years, Jaz feels like she has a solid foundation to continue developing the business.
“We are finally at a point where I can start building the culture I’ve always wanted,” says Jaz. “Petalumans have been so supportive, but the day to day operations of a new business can be all encompassing. I’m remembering why we wanted to do this, which was to offer a vibrant and fun dining experience.”
With an excellent staff, including chef Parker Staring, a former kitchen manager at the Jaded Toad in Cotati, the experienced staff adds to the appeal of dining at The Shuckery.
Our server, Sara, was no exception, she was an absolute delight. With dietary restrictions and as many approaches to ordering as there were people at our table, an impatient or less experienced server may have been overwhelmed. Sara handled our table with grace, poise and humor, which was much appreciate especially because nobody had their morning coffee yet.
I was relieved to learn that the frog legs and waffle on The Shuckery’s online sample brunch menu was not much of a hit here in Petaluma, because I would have had to order it to quench reader curiosity. Chili-maple glazed or not, I am not a fan of frog legs, and it is unlikely anyone else at the table would have shared in my journalistic inquisition. However, the rest of the online menu is pretty much in line with what you will find at the restaurant currently.