Shucks in Anderson Serves Up Fresh Oysters Year Round
The sophisticated menu at Anderson’s new oyster bar may surprise you.
An old wives’ tale says you can eat oysters only in the eight months that contain the letter “R”: September through April. According to folklore, to eat an oyster in May through August is a no-no.
And while it’s true that it’s not a good idea to harvest your own oysters from hot coasts during the summer months, commercially harvested seafood, which is what’s sold to markets and restaurants, is found in deeper, colder waters and regulated to protect you from harm.
A lesson worth mentioning, as Anderson’s favorite spot for raw and steamed fresh oysters, Shuck’s Oyster Bar, is indeed open year-round.
Yes, you can enjoy raw oysters in July. Or any day of the week or month, for that matter. It’s a question often asked of Shucks owners Devon and Tala McCuen and chef Bailey Reed.
“‘What are you going to serve during the summer months?’ We hope to dispel the myth by offering tasty and safe oysters and fresh seafood all the time,” says Devon.
In addition to oysters, Shucks offers a variety of fresh seafood, including mussels and a Lowcountry shrimp tray. “We didn’t want to do a huge menu and mediocre food, but a small, focused offering where we let the fresh seafood shine,” says Tala.
“We try to tow the line between super progressive flavors with flavors people recognize and appreciate,” says Bailey. “It’s fun to introduce new tastes and techniques and usually, they go over pretty well.”
That was the case with Bailey’s Tuna Burger: a sushi-grade, medium-rare tuna burger with green onion and Thai basil, topped with a spicy sesame crema and servedon a sesame brioche bun from local Anderson Baking Company, which supplies all of the restaurant’s baked goods.
While the baked Oysters Rockefeller sells big, so, too, does Bailey’s take on cevichè (one profile included shrimp, avocado, and dragon fruit). A recent special featured shrimp wonton soup, a compilation of what Bailey does best: seafood and Asian cuisine.
And then there’s the Wednesday night special, the shrimp slider: South Carolina shrimp ground with Andouille sausage and served with fresh arugula, caramelized onions, and tartar sauce made from house pickles on a brioche roll.
Shucks features a full bar program heavy on whiskeys, local beers, and wine. Tala brings to Anderson wines from all over the world. “You can go anywhere and get a California wine. Tala wanted to experiment with pairing seafood with rosés and other wines,” says Devon. The bar menu changes seasonally, and spring cocktails include a limoncello martini and a sweet tea mojito (using Firefly sweet tea vodka from Charleston).
Before introducing new menu items to the public, the trio typically tries them out on a selective audience. “Our parents are a great gauge for how things will be perceived,” says Tala.
Bailey and Devon were college roommates and worked at The Oyster Bar in Columbia together. Tala worked in downtown Charleston and Folly Beach restaurants. Devon and Tala met while working at the Sanctuary at Kiawah. They married and soon discussed opening a restaurant.
“We wanted to do it now, while we are young and the opportunity seemed right,” says Devon.
The couple first looked at Charleston, but the saturated market prevented them from nailing anything down. Devon’s father, Steve McCuen, called one day to say he’d found the spot. “We came up, viewed several properties, and knew we’d found exactly what we were looking for here, in Anderson.”
Retrofitting the building for a restaurant was no easy feat. Working with Steve, they basically gutted the place save for the floors, the brick walls (although all the plaster had to be removed to expose the brick), and the original ceilings. Most daunting was converting the crawlspace into a workable kitchen. That’s right: the kitchen is in the basement.
“The vent hood goes three stories,” says Devon.
Chef Bailey joined the couple to open Shucks, coming most recently from Two James Distillery in Detroit, where he also ran a craft ramen shop. Previously, Bailey worked at Fish, and was opening general manager at Black Bean Company in Charleston.
Shucks seemed destined, as entrepreneurship runs in the trio’s families; their parents also have owned and operated small businesses.
As with any good neighbors, there’s a give-and-take relationship among downtown businesses, and many local products make their way to Shucks’ menu. For example, the oyster shooter is composed of house-made cocktail sauce, Bloody Mary Mix from The Kitchen Emporium next door, Walhallapeno beer from Carolina Bauernhaus just a block away, and a fresh oyster.
“There’s always something going on here,” says Tala. “Our downtown neighbors send folks our way and vice versa. We have a great neighborhood/community vibe that’s so supportive.”
“If we take care of our neighbors, they will take care of us, and being a part of such a community is really special.”
Shucks Oyster Bar
315 North Main Street
Anderson, SC 29621
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 4-10 pm
Friday-Saturday, 4-11:59 pm
Closed Sunday and Monday