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The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of rock salt is ice cream. When my dad would make homemade peach ice cream using peaches grown by my Uncle Cecil, Dad would mix rock salt with the ice that would go into the ice cream mixer. Summer always meant peach ice cream. I’ve never had better ice cream than that.

However, rock salt has another use and that is with raw oysters, a.ka. oysters on the half shell. While you will see some restaurants serve oysters over ice, others believe that rock salt is better. When over ice, they believe the oysters can get too cold thus lessening the true flavor of the oysters. In either case, whether it is ice or rock salt, the purpose in using it is to keep the oyster shells from spilling their precious “liquor” as their juices are called.

And that is where the restaurant RockSalt gets its name. Located in the back of Park Road Shopping Center, the restaurant has been serving guests since 2015. It was started by award-winning chef Travis Croxton. Croxton is also a co-owner of Rappahannock River Oysters, LLC, interestingly. The LLC is credited with rebuilding the oyster industry in Virginia by using ecologically-friendly techniques in growing its oysters. So it makes sense that this is where RockSalt’s oysters come from as well as their clams. Both are farmed in Chincoteague, Virginia. The restaurant's remaining seafood is sustainably caught by local coastal fishermen. Thus the seafood availability on any given day is based on what is provided by those fishermen.

Although RockSalt has plenty of other choices on the menu, I have only ordered the oysters. Beth ordered their Sole special recently and really liked it. I have been back 3 times since with my dad. He and I both love oysters, so we will meet there for lunch when the oysters are only $1/each. RockSalt serves three varieties which are all grown at three of Croxton’s farms: the Rochambeau, Rappahannock and Chincoteague. My favorite are the Rappahannocks which have a sweet and buttery flavor and are the largest of the three.

There are plenty of restaurants in Charlotte that serve more varieties of seafood (our favorites, Fin & Fino and Sea Level NC). But if you want raw oysters, RockSalt is an excellent choice both for the tastiness and also that you are supporting oyster farmers who are sustainably growing their oysters.

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