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Union Market opened with great fanfare last weekend. And while many of the most anticipated vendors—Gina Chersevani‘s Buffalo & Bergen, Red Apron Butchery—aren’t up and running yet, there was one clear hotspot in the market last weekend: Rappahannock Oyster Bar.
Turns out Rappahannock offers a lot more than just oysters on the half shell. So far, the menu has included steamed Olde Salt clams, oyster chowder with bacon, crab cakes, and grilled tuna loin with local peppers, tomatoes, and mojo de ajo.
Co-owner Travis Croxton says they plan to change the menu seasonally. Look for Virginia scallops trucked straight from the boat, a rotating grilled fish dish, and soft shell crabs next spring. There may also be some non-seafood grub, like a lamb burger via Border Springs Farm. Domestic and foreign caviar is also on its way, complimented by a number of Champagne selections.
Speaking of drinks, Rappahannock has hired mixologist J.P. Fetherston from Columbia Room and The Passenger to put together a cocktail menu. The bar also serves nothing but local beers. On tap, we found DC Brau‘s The Corruption, Chocolate City Beer‘s Cornerstone Copper Ale, and 3 Stars Brewing Company‘s Southern Belle and Urban Farmhouse. There are also bottles of Flying Dog‘s Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout, which is brewed with Rappahannock’s oysters.
This is the second restaurant for Rappahannock. The first one, Merroir, is located on the Rappahannock River overlooking its oyster farm, and another is coming to Richmond in late October. The opening team at Union Market is comprised of many employees who work on the farm. “We will always be rotating some of our farm employees to come and pull a shift or two at Union Market,” Croxton says. “Likewise, our goal is to get all of our D.C.-sourced hires to spend a couple days minimum working on our farm and getting their hands dirty.”
If you make it to Union Market this weekend, make it a priority to pull up a stool at Rappahannock—if you’re lucky enough to snag one.
Photo by Jessica Sidman