Enjoying great Seafood is one of those indulgences that I simply must fit in from time to time. There is just something so satisfying about eating quality fish from the sea. As it turns out, there is a new fine dining restaurant in Old Towne Orange called Ways & Means Oyster House. Distinguished Chef Conrad Gallagher taps into Orange County’s seasonal ingredients, pairing them with sustainable fish and shellfish from around the world.
Gallagher earned a Michelin Red M rating and a coveted spot on the Condé Nast Traveler list of the “Top 15 Restaurants in the World with Peacock Alley, his first restaurant that he opened at the age of 25. He received his first Michelin Star, making him the youngest chef at the time to receive the honor.
Last week I had the pleasure of dining there with a friend. When I arrived I was pleased to find that parking was ample and the restaurant is easy to access. When you first walk in you can’t help but notice how lovely the decor is. It’s like a fancy ocean motif with wood ceilings, deep red booths, and gorgeous lights. It’s both romantic and classy. There are several chandeliers that hang near the entry way that are absolutely gorgeous.
I think it is really neat how both the chef and the owners, Parnell Delcham and Jennifer Delcham sign each of the menus. It sort of gives it a personalized feel when you open it.
I started off with a cocktail called mama’s spritz ($10) and it was delicious. It tasted like Christmas in a glass.
As I was enjoying my drink our waitress came out with several different kinds of bread. 5 to be exact and they are served with Irish butter. Think about the effort involved in making 5 homemade breads every day. They ranged from sliced baguette to things a bit more outrageous. I had apricot curry bread, which was very tasty indeed. There was also Guinness bread, made with the famous stout, sun dried tomato, olive bread, and several others.
After sampling the bread we tried some clams and oysters. We had top neck clams, middle neck clams, and naked cowboy oysters. (market price). The clams were outrageous! They were so meaty and tender and they slid right off their shells. The oysters were also very tasty and came with lemons and Tabasco sauce.
Then we moved on to something called “salmon rillettes” ($12). Holy smokes I could have eaten this for dinner alone. It was a salmon patty with red onion, watercress, and lemon aioli. I spread some of it on a sliced baguette and I was in heaven. I am drooling just writing about it.
We also tried the Caesar Salad ( $11) that had baby cos, a crab meat scotch egg and sourdough croutons . If you have never tried a scotch egg it is awesome. It was my first time trying one and now I am hooked.
Time for another cocktail! I had the bartender surprise me with something and this is what I got. I loved it. It tasted like vacation in a glass.
Then it was onto our main entrees. We decided to share the prime petite 6 oz Angus filet ($24) 40-day aged CG2 served beneath a brick of garlic and rosemary.. Now, I consider myself a bit of a steak snob and I have to say this was probably the best cut of meat I have ever had. We ordered it medium and it was like slicing through softened butter. Perfectly pink, juicy and tender. Sorry Ruth’s Chris but I believe you have just been trumped.
This steak was unbelievably perfect. I couldn’t find a thing wrong with it. Look how luscious the center is and then how perfectly brown the sides are. If you are wondering what those other items on my plate are then keep reading.
We also had the bamboo steamed halibut ($36). It came with cumin spiced savoy cabbage, braised oxtail, braised baby leeks and red wine dressing. It was flaky and flavorful.
Of course we needed side dishes so Lobster Mac & cheese was what we decided on. I have had this side dish many times before and I was always under impressed. It was either too dry or too creamy. This was just the right consistency. And it was loaded with huge chunks of lobster.
Also not pictured was the Colcannon Creamy Mash with kale and scallions. They are the creamiest mashed potatoes ever.
In between bites we also sampled a really good red wine by Rutherford Hill. It was fruity and didn’t have that bitter taste that some wines have. Not to mention it went great with our steak.
As if we didn’t eat enough we couldn’t leave without sampling some dessert. The first one was the granny smith apple cobbler ($8). It had a carmel sauce that was drizzled over top with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yes Please!
The second dessert we had was a duck egg crème brulee ($8). It was crispy, sweet and delicious and it came with a scoop of sorbet, a lady finger and some raspberries.
After dessert I had to use the ladies room and I was floored at how clean and pretty it was. Beautiful tile lined the walls with white trim. It is not often you see a bathroom this pretty in a restaurant.
I am in love with Ways & Means and I cannot wait to go back. If you are looking for a unique restaurant for Date night, or just a place to bring your friends or out of town guests this is the place to go. A special thank you to Devon for treating me to a really fun night out with great conversation and amazing food.
For more information visit www.wmoysters.com.