Hog Island Oyster Farm Picnic Outrage!

Hog Island Oyster Farm has new reservation-only policy, with a time limit? Hmmm.

Hog Island Oyster Company (Photo by Charlie Gesell)
Hog Island Oyster Company. (Photo by Charlie Gesell)

Hold onto your coolers. Hog Island Oyster Farm in Marshall quietly made two major changes to The Boat Oyster Bar picnic area recently: Seating is now reservation-only and no outside food or beverages are allowed.

Reservations are also limited to 90 minutes, which flies by faster than a Game of Thrones episode when you’re watching egrets hunting along the banks of Tomales Bay. (You’ll kindly be given a five-minute warning.) Luckily, the changes are only enforced Friday through Monday. If you needed an excuse to take that midweek vacation day this summer, you’ve got it.

Tables are still communal, but servers now tend to guests table-side, offering printed menus featuring two salads, a cheeseboard and a charcuterie plate in addition to raw and their wickedly delicious barbecue oysters. Also 86’d: those kitschy wire buckets for tossing oyster shells, the self-serve water station and the charming chalkboard drink menu. Your server will recite a short list of wines and beers. Paper cups of water are delivered upon request. A water jug is now situated at the end of The Boat counter for refills. 

Adding insult to injury? If you’re a no-show, you’ll be charged a fee of $10 per person.

Hog Island Oyster Company (Photo by Charlie Gesell)
Hog Island Oyster Company (Photo by Charlie Gesell)

According to the Hog Island website, increasing demand and wait times led to the change. Their goal with this reservation system “is to serve you the best oyster experience possible.” We checked availability for some recent weekends, and Sundays definitely seem the toughest to book so far.

The good news amongst the sea of sorrow is that the beloved farm’s reservation-only shuck-your-own picnic area below The Boat remains unchanged. Parties can continue to book tables in advance on the Hog Island website, pay $5 per person for a three-hour time slot and get to bring all their own picnic provisions, including beer and wine. These coveted reservations can book out one to four months in advance, depending on the season. Techies just might hack the system faster than State Bird Provisions’. 

The news will go down harder than a half dozen gulf oysters for locals who remember the days, less than a decade ago, when everything at Hog Island was BYO, save for the bivalves.

This guest post was submitted by the inimitable Lisa Mattson, author of The Exes in My Glass: How I Refined My Taste in Men & Alcohol {a dating memoir}. www.lisamattsonwine.com/books 

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