Stu Helm, Asheville’s Facebook Food Critic, on his lunch date at Oyster House Brewing


By Stu Helm

Hello Asheville!

Guess what? Santa and I finally got our shit together and met for our Free Lunch date!

In case you’re just tuning in…

Jason Sandford AKA Ashvegas sponsored a contest two weeks ago. Santa won. The prize was free lunch at a restaurant of Santa’s choice! The catch was he had to have it with me.

Santa chose The Oyster House Brewing Company in West Asheville (aka WAVL, aka Wavvle, aka Wavtown) and after some initial trouble coordinating our schedules, we finally managed to git ‘er did.

Santa showed up in the craziest sleigh I’ve been inside of in quite a while. It was a 40-something year-old VW bus. Yeah, Man. Fun ride!

Santa is a fun guy in general! He has pretty blue eyes, and lots of cool stories to tell about his very strange and interesting life! I mostly soaked it all in, while stuffing my face, but he took me a little off guard when he asked, “What do you do for fun?”

I think I mumbled something about hanging out with my family… blah blah blah… and then I actually heard these actual words come out of my actual mouth:

“I watch soap operas with my girlfriend.”

Ha ha ha!!! I outed myself to Santa! Oh well, I heard that he sees us while we’re sleeping AND while we’re awake, so he already knew all about me and Dawn and Days of Our Lives.



My first thought: Cute Building. I remember when it was a thrift shop, or a furniture store, or a deli, or something like that. Now it’s a wee little Oyster House.

The interior was nice, like a neighborhood bar, which it is, more or less. Big windows, basic decor. Nothing special, nothing horrid. Actually, there was this one lamp that was both horrid and special. If I’d had a gun on me at the time, I would have stolen it in a brazen daylight robbery.

The service was a little on the lax side for me. No one greeted us, we didn’t know whether to seat ourselves (we did), then it took a little while to get waited on, and the waitress didn’t really try to sell us on any of the food.

I ordered the BOLT (Bacon Oysters Lettuce Tomato), with fries and something called “beer braised kale.”

Santa got the reg’ler ol’ BLT, with green-apple fennel slaw. He also ordered an IPA. I asked if they had coffee. They did not. I ordered water.

We also ordered 12 raw oysters! I dug in, very willing to love them, and… I did!


Well, I took reader James’ advice, so I knew what to do, and what to look for in terms of flavor and over-all experience when eating raw oysters. James said “be sure to actually bite into the oyster,” and that he enjoys the “briny-ness of the liquid and the minearlly flavor of the oyster itself. In short, it tastes like the sea.”

I couldn’t have said it any better, James, so I literally cut and pasted your comments above for the benefit of the other readers.

Thanks to James, I am now a fan of raw oysters! Just like those cool people who live on those yachts that I mentioned last week. Soon I will also live on a yacht. (Jenny? Are you with me?)

The oysters were small, which I recommend for beginners, and came with lemon, and cocktail sauce, which I also recommend for beginners.

Raw oysters, I am a new fan of you!

I’ve always been a fan of fried oysters, which is what’s on the BOLT, and just as Santa promised, it was dang-a-lang-a-licious!

The bread was great, the oysters were great, the bacon was thick and be-peppered and awesome. I give this sandwich five stars on a five star sandwich scale. The grilling on the bread was effing perfect. You can see pics on my FB page.

There are pics of that lamp there too. I’m obsessed with it.

Santa declined having his picture taken, but you can see his hands on FB too.

Complaint department: The french fries were anemic, as so often seems to be the case these days. FRY those fucking things, Mang. They are not supposed to be white.

The kale was good, if a little bit odd. It was half cold / half warm (intentionally, I think) and a little too sweet for me, but had a nice aroma and good flavor.

Santa’s apple slaw was fresh, tart, and tasty.

His BLT? Well, he looked so sad when our sandwiches arrived and he realized his mistake in not getting the O inside of his BLT, that I traded him 1/2 of my BOLT for half of his BLT.

I’m not sure why he order the BLT in the first place, when the BOLT was right there, begging to be ordered. I’m not even sure why the dang BLT is even on the menu at all. I mean, it’s the fucking O-house. Gimme an O! Santa obviously felt the same, and we both bolted down our respective half-a-BOLT. Nom nom!

After that awesomeness, the BLT was like a box spring with no mattress. As in: not as good.

I should mention that Santa enjoyed the IPA, and said it was one of the best in town. He also told me that a certain owner of a certain other brewery feels that Oyster House IPA is THEE best in town. Ooo-ooh! Scuttlebutt report!

I asked the waitress if they offer dessert. They do not. We got the check.

In review:

• SANTA – Sure, I could have picked a cuter lunch date – #briar – but perhaps none more fun to share a meal with! Thanks, Santa, see ya under the mistletoe!

• OYSTER HO– — USE – I loved about 1/2 the food, Santa loved the beer, I’d go back for sure

• STU HELM: FACEBOOK FOOD CRITC – Currently catching up on Days, soon to be living on a yacht.

• JASON SANDFORD – Footing the bill. Thanks, Jason you are the Bizz-omb Diggity! I kept the receipt for ya.

Stu Helm is an artist and writer living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing restaurant reviews strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook in 2013.


Jenny February 25, 2014 - 4:02 pm

I’m totally with you on the yacht. The oysters? Not convinced. But knowing you had such a good experience, I might be willing to give them a try. Especially since the O House is in my hood.

Best line: “…lot’s of room on the yacht for all types of sauces…”

Stu Helm February 25, 2014 - 7:44 pm

Try ’em, Jenny! Otherwise, I can’t guarantee that the other people will let you on the yacht! I’m new. I have no power. Yet…

Grrr February 25, 2014 - 12:48 pm

Raw oysters, or errrrsterrs, are the shit!! Glad you have seen the light Stoobie great review.

Stu Helm February 25, 2014 - 2:12 pm

They were Grrr-eat! And so are you, Lady!

James February 25, 2014 - 11:44 am

Stu, glad to see that you saw the light! Personally, I still like my oysters un-adorned, or maybe with a nice mignonette. Maybe I will take you on a ride in my yacht someday.

Stu Helm February 25, 2014 - 1:57 pm

Thanks, James! I feel as though I’ll eventually be with you in the “un-adorned” column, but it’s baby steps for now.

I’ll be looking forward to that Yacht ride! 🙂

doghaus28815 February 24, 2014 - 10:19 pm

been there, oysters good!!!!. service, well..

Santa February 24, 2014 - 8:16 pm

Thank you for lunch Ashvegas! Thanks Stu! That was a fun lunch. I’m enjoying these reviews even more having met the character behind it all. ~ Santa

Stu Helm February 25, 2014 - 6:10 am

Aw, thanks, Santa! I had a lot of fun!

Briar February 24, 2014 - 7:24 pm

Stu, I’m blushing!

Also, I’m now craving oysters.

Stu Helm February 25, 2014 - 6:13 am

I’ll be over to Barleycorn soon, Briar!

Bruce Mont February 24, 2014 - 7:13 pm

Oysterhouse is genuinely awesome, and so is that lamp!

Scottonmtn February 24, 2014 - 6:44 pm

You SUGGEST coctail sauce with raw oysters? No, no, no! That’s like pouring thick, catchup-y “steak sauce” on filet . A squirt of lemon. Fantastic. Maybe a dash of Tabasco. A grind or two of pepper is great. Keep it simple. Taste the oyster, not the catchup and horseradish.

Stu Helm February 24, 2014 - 7:19 pm

Oh, la-dee-da. I used what they gave me with my raw oysters. If I go to a steakhouse and they give me a side of catchup with my fillet, I’m gonna at least try it, figuring that the chef knows what he or she is doing. Please don’t try make me feel like a philistine because I used the sauce provided by the restaurant. I’m sure there’ lot’s of room on the yacht for all types of sauces, and preferences for said sauces. For all you know the guy on the chaise lounge next to you is thinking “Lemon?!? What a lout! Just the pure flavor of the sea for me.”

Briar February 24, 2014 - 7:25 pm


Mr. Yuck February 24, 2014 - 9:49 pm

Hey Stu, you might like this:

Call it bad parenting, but my 2nd grader drops the f-bomb in sotto voice when confronted with food that does not taste good. He sends plates back and has both attracted and dealt with managers all by himself while I stifle my laughter.

Get an articulate kid and the comps just flow. I’ll loan you mine.

I hate bad food and appreciate you calling it out with profanity.

Stu Helm February 25, 2014 - 1:54 pm

Ha ha! If you ever get tired of that kid, I’ll take him! He sounds like a valuable asset as well as a fucking hoot!

Thanks for that link too, it’s a great resource.

“Mr. Yuck” is one of my all-time fave graphic icons, BTW. He is the anti-smiley face!


chappell carter February 24, 2014 - 4:28 pm

Will have to try the BOLT. Sounds delicious!

Amazing how service varies from place to place. A little effort and some genuine kindness could go a long way.

Love your work, Stu! Keep it coming.

Stu Helm February 25, 2014 - 6:12 am

Thanks, Chappell!

That BOLT was definitely worth waiting through for. I’ll be back for it, despite the lax service.

Stu Helm February 25, 2014 - 7:47 pm

“Waiting through for?” I’m not sure how the word “through” snuck in there. Fucking typo fingers.

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