Doane’s Oyster Pan Roast

I am starting work on my chapter about shellfish for my Puget Sound book. This one will focus on Olympia oysters and geoducks. One of the first interesting discoveries was Doane’s Oyster House in Olympia, which Captain Woodbury Doane opened sometime in 1880. After his youth in Maine, he made it the west coast as part of that migration of ambitious hopefuls seeking gold, first in California then up the Fraser River in 1862.

After arriving in Olympia, he opened his oyster house and developed his legendary Oyster Pan Roast. Made with the local Olympia oysters, a sizable hunk of butter, ketchup, tabasco sauce, “old fashioned pepper sauce,” Worchestershire sauce, and salt. The concoction was then poured over toast, on a platter with pickles and coffee or beer. Cost was thirty-five cents. Long time Seattle Times writer, C.T. Conover called the dish “unquestionably the culinary masterpiece of that period (1880s to 1890s) on Puget Sound and to my mind it has not been rivaled by the works of French chefs of a later day.”

Curiously, one of the “most famous” recipes from New York is the oyster pan roast from the Grand Central Oyster Bar. According to one article, the recipe sounds like it was stolen from Olympia, with a few modifications. “The fortified clam juice is added to the pan with unsalted butter. After that comes to a boil, the oysters are added, and then rest of the stew ingredients: celery salt, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, Heinz chili sauce, and half and half.”

Doane died in Olympia in 1903, honored as one of the people who helped put Olympia and its oyster on the map, or at least on the dinner table.

From Seattle Times: October 1923
From Seattle Times: October 1923


One thought on “Doane’s Oyster Pan Roast”

  1. My step-father, Ernest Hilsenberg owned Skipper’s Seafood Restaurant in Seattle in the 40’s and 50’s and made the most delicious fried baby Olympia oysters on toast with fresh lemon on the side. Even as young child they were my favorite things to order there. I’ve never found them served like this elsewhere.
    Jennifer Sullivan, now Anchorage, Alaska

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *