It may have taken you a minute to realize that “Bah” is the phonetic spelling of the New England pronunciation of “bar,” but what do you expect from the Midwest trying to do East Coast seafood?
Oyster Bah is the casual seafood shack alternative to the more formal Shaw’s Crab House, and as the name would indicate, the place feels like a Chicago copy of a New England seafood shack.
Your experience kind of goes like this: You walk in and feel like you’re in coastal New England, thanks to the fish and fishing pictures on the wall. The vibe is comfortable and charming, where we imagine Ivy League kids like to hang out when they’re not inventing Facebook.
As for the food? You order a few oysters, and they’re delicious. So far, you’re thriving. By the time the rest of your meal rolls in, you’ve had a few drinks, probably wine or a light beer, and after a few drinks, nothing tastes bad. But you’re definitely regretting your decision to share plates, and you’re starting to get anxious there won't be enough food. Then the check comes. It’s only now, in retrospect, that you realize Oyster Bah can be hit or miss. Yes, you had fun and were relaxed. Yes, dishes like the red snapper and New England stuffies are great. But not everything else was as good, and that was even more noticeable once the prices added up.
There are certainly far worse things than having a fun, casual evening and paying a little too much for it, especially when excellent oysters are involved. So use Oyster Bah for a first date or a casual group dinner — when the people are more important than the food.
These definitely do not disappoint. We suggest getting a mix of both coasts, and planning the rest of your meal from there.
Avocado, soy ginger, and sesame. It's tuna poke. It's fine.
Something about peppery arugula and parmesan cheese never gets old. It’s a nice break from all the seafood.
The name of the dish makes these sound like a tiny tasting item. Little did we know these are made with quahog, which is a giant clam. They’re stuffed with a ton of chopped clams, chorizo, and a few breadcrumbs. These are awesome, and will be the pinnacle of your meal. Consider two orders.
Steamed Maine Mussels
There’s nothing we love more than mussels, but there are a lot of mussels we love more than these. They're tiny and the sauce is decent, making this dish far more work than it was worth.
Mixed with a mayo sauce. It's a safe bet if you want to order something for yourself.
The presentation of this dish is impressive. It comes with the head on, so it looks like you’re getting a whole fish. But you’re not—the filet on the back is removed. We don’t usually like successful trickery, but $28 for this fish is still a good order. The spicy Thai chili sauce makes it all worth it.
We wouldn’t order this again. It was almost $8, and despite boasting a creole lobster sauce, it's mostly a flavorless bowl of rice.
Solid roasted carrots, but, they're still carrots. Keep things seafood heavy unless you're dying for a veggie.