The Union Oyster House

The Union Oyster House is the oldest restaurant in Boston and the oldest restaurant in continuous service in the U.S. — the doors have always been open to diners since 1826. Union Street was laid out in 1636, but there are no municipal records documenting the Oyster House’s date of construction. All that is known is that the building has stood on Union Street as a major local landmark for more than 250 years. In 1742—before it became a seafood house, the building housed importer Hopestill Capen’s fancy dress goods business, known colorfully as “At the Sign of the Cornfields.” At this time, the Boston waterfront came up to the back door of the dry goods establishment, making it convenient for ships to deliver their cloth and goods from Europe.

The first stirrings of the American Revolution reached the upper floor of the building in 1771, when printer Isaiah Thomas published his newspaper “The Massachusetts Spy,” long known as the oldest newspaper in the United States. In 1775, Capen’s silk and dry goods store became headquarters for Ebenezer Hancock, the first paymaster of the Continental Army. There is no reason to doubt that Washington himself was familiar with its surroundings. At the very spot where diners today enjoy their favorite New England specialties, Federal troops received their “war wages” in the official pay-station. During the revolution the Adams, Hancock, and Quincy wives, as well as their neighbors, often sat in their stalls of the Capen House sewing and mending clothes for the colonists.

In 1796, a future king of France lived on the second floor. Exiled from his country, he earned his living by teaching French to many of Boston’s fashionable young ladies. Later Louis Phillippe returned home to serve as King from 1830 to 1848.

1826 marked the end of Capen’s Dry Goods Store and the beginning of Atwood and Bacon’s establishment. The new owners installed the fabled semi-circular Oyster Bar — where the greats of Boston paused for refreshment. (Click here to see an original menu from the Atwood and Bacon Oyster House.) It was at the Oyster Bar that Daniel Webster, a constant customer, daily drank his tall tumbler of brandy and water with each half-dozen oysters, seldom having less than six plates.

The toothpick was first used in the United States at the Union Oyster House. Enterprising Charles Forster of Maine first imported the picks from South America. To promote his new business he hired Harvard boys to dine at the Union Oyster House and ask for toothpicks.

A college president was salad man here. Jack Coleman, President of Pennsylvania’s Haverford College worked in total anonymity for a few months during his sabbatical when he secretly sampled some of America’s rigorous jobs and lifestyles.

Oyster Facts

The oyster is a bivalve mollusc that has existed since prehistoric times.

Oyster Shells

The shell composes about 4/5 of the oyster’s entire weight, and is its only means of protecting its soft body.

Unlike the shell of the clam that is hinged at the long end, the oyster’s shell is hinged at the narrow end. The outside of the shell is rough and irregular but the inside is polished smooth.

Oyster shells have been used for centuries for various purposes. They have been used for roads and footpaths; as filling for wharves, low lands and fortifications; as ballast for vessels; as manure for exhausted fields; and as raw material for lime.

Oysters as Food

If natural enemies were not enough, man has an insatiable appetite for oysters, and is unrelenting in his efforts to harvest the delicious bivalves. Oysters are harvested either wild from natural beds or, as is more often the case today, from cultivated grounds. (Wild oysters are rough and irregular, while cultivated oysters assume a more uniform shape, and produce more standard meat.)

Not all oysters taste the same. In fact, of the many species, only a few have any commercial value. And the size, shape, flavor and food value of oysters are severely affected by their habitat, the foods eaten, and the temperature of the water in which they have grown. Oysters, due to their native element, are more or less salty, and in fact were at one time sold as accompaniments to drink.

Oysters were first served to the public in this country in 1763 when a primitive saloon was opened in New York City in a Broad Street cellar.

In the 19th century, the American people were enveloped in an oyster craze. In every town there were oyster parlors, oyster cellars, oyster saloons, oyster bars, oyster houses, oyster stalls and oyster lunchrooms. The oyster houses were very popular amongst the best class of people in the city. They were also popular amongst tourists because they knew they would get the choicest seafood, cooked and served in the best style. And with the “express” service and the coming of railroads, oyster houses became popular inland as well.

As early as 1926, the U.S. Public Health Service undertook a system of sanitary controls to safeguard the public and the industry with regard to the purity of oysters.

Pearls

When a foreign body gets lodged in the oyster shell, the oyster begins to build concentric layers of onion-like material, thereby giving birth to a “pearl.” Certain tropical species of oysters produce pearls of iridescent luster that are commercially valuable. Pearls come in many different shapes and hues, but the most valuable are the large, perfectly round and flawless, black pearls.
Rarely is a pearl of any value found in North American waters.

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Rock Lobster Turf and Tails

Product Description
41vnndbeysl__sl500_aa260_Looking for a premium lobster gift or dinner? Choose a complete steak and lobster meal from Gorton’s Fresh Seafood. Two succulent, coldwater rock lobster tails are paired with your choice of our best cuts of tender filet mignon or juicy New York Strip steaks. The Rock Lobster Turf and Tails steak and lobster dinner is the easy way to serve a truly remarkable meal your guests will delight in. Add our creamy lobster bisque for a phenomenal dining experience or an impressive personal or business gift.

Product Features
When you order for 2 you’ll receive your choice of 2 frozen USDA Choice six ounce Filet Mignon Steaks or 10 ounce NY Strip Steaks packed in a sturdy, white box, and 2 frozen 5/6 oz Rock Lobster Tails. Optional: 20 oz of Lobster Bisque. Turf and Tails for 6 contains 3 times the seafood.

Rock Lobster Turf and Tails – Rock Lobster Turf and Tails with NY Strip Steaks

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Live Maine Lobster and Tiramisu Dinner

Product Description
5102bihav4xl__sl500_aa280_NEW! When you want to make a lasting impression on the love of your life, woo them with our Live Maine Lobster and Tiramisu Dinner. The succulent, flavorful meat of our premium, live Maine Lobsters takes center stage as the entr’e for your romantic dinner. Simply add candles and a salad to create a beautiful and elegant meal. Forget ordinary boxed chocolates. Your mail order lobster is paired with sweet, creamy tiramisu for a two-course delight that is sure to set the mood. Because the Live Maine Lobster and Tiramisu Dinner is shipped via overnight express, it makes the perfect last minute Valentines gift (or gift for any special occasion). Want a truly unforgettable evening? Add lobster bisque for two to your order. Thick and savory, it completes the meal.

Product Features
When you order you’ll receive two 1.25 lb Live Maine Lobsters and 2/6 oz frozen Tiramisu Cakes. Optional: 20 oz of Lobster Bisque.

Live Maine Lobster and Tiramisu Dinner

Live Maine Lobsters with Tiramisu & Lobster Bisque

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Lobster Lover’s Feast

Product Description
41ibvazorwl__sl500_aa260_When nothing but lobster will do, dive into our bountiful Maine Lobster Lover’s Feast. This delicious two-course meal makes a wonderful surprise for your family and friends, or an impressive alternative to traditional gourmet gift baskets. Start your lobster feast with our creamy and flavorful lobster bisque. Then delight your guests with a main course of live Maine lobsters ready for boiling or steaming. Just add butter and cocktail sauce for a dinner experience that’s hard to beat. The Lobster Lover’s Feast makes an excellent holiday gift or corporate gift too.

Product Features
The Lobster Lover’s Feast for Two includes 2 Live Lobster “Halves” (1.4 to 1.7 lb) or “Deuces” (2 to 2.5 lb) for the deluxe version and 20 oz Lobster Bisque The Lobster Lover’s Feast for Four has double the seafood of the Lobster Lover’s Feast for Two.

Lobster Lover’s Feast – Lobster Lover’s Feast for Two with 1.5 lb Live Lobsters

Lobster Lover’s Feast – Lobster Lover’s Feast for Two with 2 lb Lobsters

Lobster Lover’s Feast – Lobster Lover’s Feast for 4 with 1.5 lb Lobsters

Lobster Lover’s Feast – Lobster Lover’s Feast for 4 with 2 lb Lobsters

Other products by Gorton’s of Gloucester

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Classic Live Lobster Combo for Two People

Product Description
21yh38dgpsl__sl500_aa200_Surprise someone with these extra large live Maine lobsters loaded with plenty of meat. You will be sending two hard shell, select grade Maine lobsters, average 2.5 lbs. each, a 20-ounce tub of the Lobster Trap Restaurant creamy New-England style chowder made only with freshly dug clams, and two lobster accessory packs. Each pack includes a nylon lobster cracker, a fork, a lobster bib, a placemat (with handy eating instructions), a wet towelette, and a napkin all neatly sealed inside a plastic bag. To ensure freshness, all orders are shipped Fedex overnight for delivery Tuesday through Friday only. Please specify day of week and date for your order to arrive. Order today by 11 a.m. EST and enjoy tomorrow!

Ingredients
Quality and freshness are the Lobster Trap Company’s trademarks. All our lobster are right off the boat, on to the dock and into our facilities. No other online service can match for freshness, quality and price. We store thousands of lobster in our darkened seawater tanks. The tanks are chilled to a constant 38 degrees, duplicating the lobster’s sea world environment. This method of storing helps keep them strong and healthy and ensures ample supplies year-round, even during the off season.

Product Features

  • Two 2.5 lbs Live Maine Lobsters
  • 20 Oz. Tub of Lobster Trap Co. Clam Chowder
  • Two Handy Bib Packs with Cracker, Fork, Placemat, Wet Nap
  • Packed Live and Shipped to Your Door
  • Overnight Delivery
  • Buy from lobsters-online

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    2 Live Maine Lobsters (2 included)

    Product Description
    41ydfondvsl__sl500_aa260_

    Order fresh, live lobster and indulge in this ultimate of treats so reminiscent of the New England Seacoast. Live Maine lobsters truly create a peak dining experience with their impressive display and unmistakable sweet, mild flavor. Live lobster shipped overnight right to your door. Check out some of our other Lobster Gift Ideas.

    Item Details and Quality:
    Maine Lobsters are carefully harvested in lobster traps from cold northern waters. Your live Maine lobster will be shipped via overnight express, carefully packed in an insulated shipping container complete with gel packs to keep the lobster cold and moist. Special packing materials will be used to ensure your lobster arrives alive and well. It is strongly recommended that you have live lobsters shipped to an address where they can be immediately refrigerated. Lobsters can stay alive for approximately 24 hours after arrival at your location provided they are kept in a cold, damp environment, and are able to breathe.

    Our fresh, live Maine Lobsters are packed with fresh seaweed and claws banded. Choose from Maine Lobster “Quarters” (1.2 to 1.5 pounds), “Halves” ( 1.4 to 1.7 pounds), or “Deuces” (1.9 to 2.5 pounds), or “Colossals” (3 to 3.25 lbs). **Minimum order of 2 live lobsters.**

    2 Live Maine Lobsters (2 included) – Live Maine Lobster 1.25 lb

    2 Live Maine Lobsters (2 included) – Live Maine Lobster 1.5 lb

    2 Live Maine Lobsters (2 included) – Live Maine Lobster 2 lbs

    2 Live Maine Lobsters (2 included) – Live Maine Lobster 3 lbs

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    Shore Cove Lobster Dinner – Shore Cove Lobster Dinner

    Product Description
    41q37btlfnl__sl500_aa260_The Shore Cove Lobster Dinner is a delightful combination of succulent mussels and sweet Maine lobster. Delivery right to your door makes this mouthwatering meal as convenient as it is special. Start with premium Prince Edward Island mussels – delicious all by themselves or dipped in warm garlic butter. Then move on to tender Maine lobster hailed by the Wall Street Journal as “the firmest, most succulent lobster…” As an impressive lobster gift or a special menu for family and friends, you’ll enjoy these two coastal favorites. For an added treat add an exceptional first course of thick, creamy .

    When you order, you’ll receive 1.9 lbs of fresh, live PEI Mussels and 2 Live Maine Lobster “Quarters” (1.25-1.5 lb) or “Halves” (1.5-1.7 lb)) packed in seaweed with claws banded. Optional: 20 oz of Clam Chowder.

    Shore Cove Lobster Dinner – Shore Cove Lobster Dinner w. 1.25 lb Lobsters

    Shore Cove Lobster Dinner – Shore Cove Lobster Dinner w. 1.25 lb lobsters & Clam Chowder

    Shore Cove Lobster Dinner – Shore Cove Lobster Dinner w 1.5 lb Lobsters

     Shore Cove Lobster Dinner – Shore Cove Lobster Dinner w. 1.5 lb Lobsters & Clam Chowder

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    Filed under Lobster, Maine Lobster, New England clam chowder, Prince Edward Island mussels, Shore Cove Lobster Dinner