It's been about six months since we've been able to sit down and watch Dylan Salmon work his magic as he popped open beautiful bivalve after bivalve at Dylan's Oyster Cellar, his lauded temporary pop-up shop in Mount Vernon. Come fall, you'll once again be able to enjoy his take on Maryland's favorite mollusk, along with some adult beverages, when he opens up a permanent home for Dylan's at 3601 Chestnut Ave. in Hampden.
While admitting he would've liked to stay in Mount Vernon, Salmon finally decided on the building at the corner of Chestnut Avenue and 36th Street (formerly the Village Flower) because, as he explains during a recent phone interview, the finances were more feasible, it was closer to where he grew up and now lives, and "after seeing it, it just immediately felt like the right spot."
Build-out will begin soon on the space, which, once done, will boast a healthy 1,500 square feet of space—double the size of the original location. It will include a small kitchen, outdoor seating, and a large semicircular raw bar that, Salmon says, will surround the oyster well and allow about eight seated patrons to watch as their oysters get shucked right in front of them.
As a complement to the raw bar, the addition of a kitchen will allow Salmon to hire a chef and will feature a set menu of around 15 small plates and a handful of seasonal offerings. Fried belly clams—roasted, steamed, fried, and scalded (a method he says involves roasting/steaming them in multiple soaked burlap sacks)—oysters, and sardines are just some of the items he says they plan to offer.
"But in addition to having a seafood focus," says Salmon, "we'll also have a heavy focus on vegetables and be doing some interesting stuff like terrines and other classic old-school French dishes, and probably playing around with some Central American, Basque cuisine, and all sorts of different stuff."
As for the bar program, he says they'll have a four-tap beer system that will feature both local and international varieties, a curated list of wines that pair well with oysters and seafood (crisp whites, rosés, and bubbly), and an extensive list of cocktails not unlike the ones us here at City Paper fell in love with at the original location.
Salmon was quick to assure that not much will change from the experience at the original pop-up, saying that the goal is to replicate the same welcoming and fun environment that Dylan's had in the previous incarnation, but with more space, a larger staff, a fuller menu, and, most importantly, a permanent address.
"The permanence [of the new location] is the part that excites me the most," says Salmon. "I can't wait to be able to relax into the place and focus on running it properly."
If you can't wait until this fall, be sure to check out W.C. Harlan (400 W. 23rd St.) this Friday, when Dylan's Oyster Cellar will be collaborating with Clavel—the soon-to-open Mexican restaurant from the owners of W.C. Harlan—on a street-side pop-up party that goes on all night. Starting at 5 p.m. they'll be serving up raw oysters, clam ceviche tostadas, jicama in a bag, mango on a stick, Jamaica (hibiscus) agua fresca, and leche de tigre shots outside of the bar. Inside, guests can enjoy the always-great cocktail creations of Lane Harlan and company.