Diners enjoy a summer evening sitting by the Kennebec River at OystHers Raw Bar & Bubbly. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Lauren and Sadia Crosby’s story sounds like the plot of a Victorian novel.

The tale opens with the two sisters growing up in Georgetown, raised by a commercial lobsterman who insisted that he didn’t want any of his children to follow in his footsteps. Lauren moved west to teach English, while Sadia stuck around Maine and became an arborist. Neither took up lobstering, but it was impossible for them to escape the allure of the ocean.

“So I started waiting tables at a seafood restaurant in Alaska, and Sadia got around my dad’s wishes by starting her own oyster farm (also named OystHers). At first it was just as a way to get back on the working waterfront in a different capacity, and only as a side-hustle,” co-owner Lauren Crosby said. “But by 2021, she had her first harvest and was surprised at how much immediate popularity she gained, only selling to restaurants. Then our dad passed away, and it was a huge wake-up call for us. So we decided to come back to Bath, the place where our mother and grandmother went to school, and open our own restaurant.”

Seriously, George Eliot herself couldn’t have come up with a better storyline, especially the part where the pair acquired a former tattoo studio on the banks of the Kennebec River – a building with a collapsing roof, holes in the walls and no plumbing – and slowly transformed it into a colorful, casual, canine-friendly home for OystHers Raw Bar & Bubbly.

True to the sisters’ vision of creating a comfortable atmosphere, nothing about OystHers reads as stuffy. Walls are bathed in whimsical, super-saturated shades of orange, powder blue and red, and when the weather is nice, you can see through the entire building to the shoreline outside.

The crab sliders at OystHers Raw Bar & Bubbly. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Inside, the furniture isn’t anything special, but the combination of bar-height and table-level seating works for diners visiting for a quick, bargain-priced glass of house Prosecco (Blue Lobster, $5) and a pair of phenomenal, practically pure-crabmeat sliders ($30), as well as for customers settling in for a few homegrown shuckers and one of OystHers’ intelligently composed charcuterie boards.


“The oysters are the star of the show, always. But there has to be more to it than that,” Lauren Crosby, who manages the food and beverage program, told me. “We really had fun sitting down and designing the boards. There’s a lot of nostalgia there. The Up North board ($27) especially, which reminds us of the meat and cheese we’d eat when we went ice fishing with our dad, or the sharp cheese and pepperoni when we went sailing with our great-grandfather. You know, up north, at camp, outside.”

I’ve never been ice fishing, and I’ve never been to the Crosbys’ family camps, but I can relate to the experience of noshing on OystHers charcuterie outside, installed at one of the coral-tinted picnic tables overlooking the water.

The “unrivaled” oysters from OystHers Sea Farm in Georgetown at OystHers Raw Bar & Bubbly. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

There, with discarded oyster shells crunching underfoot, my dinner guests and I polished off a Downeast Smoke Show platter ($34) of garlicky soppressata, Duck Trap smoked salmon, capers, Morse’s pickled beet slaw and outstanding Dunstan Smokehouse mussels. The consensus at my table was that the charcuterie was good enough that we’d have ordered another board, but we decided to be patient and reserve our appetites for our flight of oysters ($34/dozen of OystHers or $39/dozen mixed, incorporating oysters from other local farms).

Among our mixed flight, Sadia Crosby’s oysters were unrivaled. Sweet, with practically no salinity and notable for a slow-fading watermelon-like finish, these might be my new favorite Maine shellfish. And according to Lauren Crosby, that melony flavor was a bonus for our having (randomly) chosen a more mature OystHer. Think of it like bottle-age for a wine.

“That must have been a 3- or 4-year-old oyster that finally made it into the rotation,” Lauren Crosby explained. “We’ve heard that from people occasionally before, and it’s the mark of a seasoned oyster.”

Both other selections were also first-rate. We knocked back four dainty Aphrodites from South Thomaston: crisp, with a minerality like the cuprous tingle on your tongue after a sip of a Moscow mule. And with our four enormous Whiskey Stones from Harpswell, we got a lesson in oyster farming. Standing by Sadia Crosby’s ice mountain of a shucking station, she explained how these Orr’s Island beauties develop their generous cup capacity through round-upon-round of tumbling.


I love OystHers’ small-dose approach to customer education. Just a fact or two about the food is plenty, exactly enough to get diners thinking as they slurp and sip glasses of zesty, foamy Keush “Origins” made from Indigenous Armenian Areni grapes ($15); malty, low-alcohol Benjamin Bridge piquette vinified from upcycled, leftover Chardonnay skins ($12/250 ml. can); or bracingly astringent Clos Hirassou rosé ($12).

Biutiful Brut Cava at OystHers. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

OystHers does offer a few cocktails, beers and mocktails (the aromatic Seedlip “gin alternative”-based Sasanoa Spritz ($11) is a solid pick), but Lauren Crosby’s wine list is worth exploring if you get a chance. Fizzy wines make up the majority of options, including many excellent-value bottles that clock in under $40, and a few under $30.

There’s little to criticize about the work the Crosby sisters are doing – everything from growing and harvesting oysters to assembling charcuterie boards, sliders and simple green salads ($10). I only wish the duo were able to offer a few house-made appetizers, mains and desserts. But without any back-of-house space whatsoever, there’s little chance that they’ll add any cooking-intensive items to the menu soon. Even their lovely blueberry-tarragon and champagne mignonettes are sourced from their good friend and culinary collaborator, Aaron Barrett of nearby Black Label Catering Company.

“Sadia and I can say confidently we are not chefs. We don’t have a grill or a fryolator. What you see is what you get. We’re not classically trained,” Lauren Crosby said. “But we know our seafood. We know how to massage lobster meat before we put it in one of our sliders. We know the trick to finding all the little shell pieces when you’re picking crab (a black light, apparently!). We’re farmers and fishermen – just two sisters who grew up on the working waterfront in Maine.”

It’s a great story.

OystHers Raw Bar & Bubbly in Bath. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

RATING: ****


WHERE: 97 Commercial St., Suite 101, Bath, 207-449-2999, oysthers.com

SERVING: 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m, daily (June 15 through Sept. 15)

PRICE RANGE: Appetizers & salads: $9-26, Oysters & caviar: $17-120

NOISE LEVEL: Pot hauler

VEGETARIAN: Some dishes



BAR: Beer, wine and cocktails


BOTTOM LINE: It would be easy to misunderstand Bath’s new raw bar, OystHers, as simply a venue for aquaculturist (and former full-time arborist) Sadia Crosby to sell the delicate, sweet oysters she farms in her hometown of Georgetown. But paired up with her sister, Lauren Crosby, the duo have put together an expertly chosen and overall remarkably affordable list of food-friendly beverages – everything from Armenian bubbles to nonalcoholic lavender-and-forsythia-infused soda ($10). Moreover, they’ve built a varied menu that comprises fat, overstuffed sliders (crab or lobster), salads, caviar and well-composed charcuterie boards. Sitting indoors is perfectly lovely, but if the weather is decent, head outdoors and snag a picnic table with views over Bath’s new riverwalk on the Kennebec River. There’s no cooking at OystHers, but don’t let that deter you. This woman-owned-and-operated raw bar is a special place to spend an afternoon sipping and slurping. Get there before the summer tourists discover it.

Ratings follow this scale and take into consideration food, atmosphere, service, value and type of restaurant (a casual bistro will be judged as a casual bistro, an expensive upscale restaurant as such):

* Poor
** Fair
*** Good
**** Excellent
***** Extraordinary

The Maine Sunday Telegram visits each restaurant once; if the first meal was unsatisfactory, the reviewer returns for a second. The reviewer makes every attempt to dine anonymously and never accepts free food or drink.

Andrew Ross has written about food and dining in New York and the United Kingdom. He and his work have been featured on Martha Stewart Living Radio and in The New York Times. He is the recipient of seven recent Critic’s Awards from the Maine Press Association.

Contact him at: andrewross.maine@gmail.com
Twitter: @AndrewRossME

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