Rocker Oysterfeller’s Eastside
At the crossroads of Southern comfort, farm-to-table fare and coastal California cuisine sits Rocker Oysterfeller’s, a newly opened kitchen and saloon destined to become a local foodie favorite.
Inspired by restaurateurs Brandon Guenther and Shona Campbell’s own fusion of cultural and professional backgrounds, they’ve infused Placerville with the flavors of Shona’s South Texas upbringing alongside Brandon’s coastal favorites and Le Cordon Bleu training. The result is a refreshing maritime twist on a markedly Southern menu with locally and sustainably sourced ingredients.
The El Dorado County, “Eastside,” location launched in July 2023, and is the sister establishment to their original Valley Ford locale, sited just 10 minutes from Bodega Bay in a historic seven-room hotel. The vision for both restaurants is rooted in the couple’s years spent, collectively, in catering and events—including gigs at both non-pretentious hangouts and upscale venues.
Estimated to open this month, Placerville’s event space will accommodate up to 100 people for everything from public concerts to weddings and private events.
At the heart of the cozy community establishment is a greater mission, however: to provide delicious food while supporting local farmers and sustainable harvesting practices. With the belief that “supporting local [farming] is a lifeline for all of us,” Shona walked me through the restaurant’s ethos. The seafood is all sustainable and wild caught, meats are free-range and locally farmed, eggs are from pasture-raised chickens, and the vegetables are mostly organic. Brandon went on to explain that even the grits are harvested immediately upon ordering and cold shipped the next day from heirloom corn in South Carolina.
After finding a table on their outdoor patio, Tracy Fanara—veteran server and manager of Rocker Oysterfeller’s—walked me through the menu and recommended a few appetizers. The Dirty South was first on her list—hand-cut Kennebec fries covered with house-made pimento cheese, pickled jalapeños, Texas-style brisket, and a healthy drizzle of crema. I’m not a huge French fry fan, but this will be repeated. Tip of the hat on this one.
In spirit of the 2-5 p.m. happy hour (served Tuesday-Friday), I decided to indulge in the “Bar Snack” deviled eggs. Though left with some FOMO on the main menu’s deviled eggs (whose rendition comes topped with applewood bacon and fried oysters), my version—with Vital Farms eggs, Cajun spices, and herb salad—was tasty, too.
After hearing the oysters are sustainably grown and harvested in Tomales Bay, I couldn’t resist trying the namesake Rocker Oysterfeller—chargrilled with wilted arugula, cream cheese, toasted fennel, applewood bacon, and cornbread crust—and the Louisiana Hot—chargrilled with Louisiana hot sauce and garlic butter. Both were served on a bed of rock salt and decorative seaweed, reminding me of the dish’s simple yet sophisticated origins.
I accompanied all this with the Cheesy Jalapeño Pull-Apart Bread, a sweet, pan-baked bread with melted Monterey Jack, garlic butter, and pickled jalapeños—the perfect vessel to soak up the hot sauce from the oysters. Yum.
Next, it was time to dive into the main course. Firstly, a chicken thigh blackened with Cajun spices alongside seared summer squash, toy box tomatoes, and Cajun cream sauce served over cavatappi pasta. You could taste the freshness of the ingredients, though my palate would’ve preferred a touch more cream and a pinch more salt.
The real star of the show was the Molasses & Bourbon Pork Volcano Shank. As I dug into the tender shank, the meat literally fell off the bone. No knife needed. The menu’s description—a “monstrous two-pound pork shank braised tender in a rich jus; served over Carolina cheese grits, baby carrots, and turnips; and topped with haystack onions”—was spot on, and infused with all the decadence of Southern cuisine you could ask for. The grits were (understandably) delicious and the carrots simply masterful. Thanks for the recommendation, Tracy.
While stuffed to the gills, I couldn’t dare depart before tasting the Bread Pudding. The butter praline sauce, brown sugar pecans, and fresh cream marked a sweet end to a beautiful Placerville escape. After saying my goodbyes, I walked down Main Street into the sunset; trust me, a nice (long) walk was needed after this one!
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. (Sunday); 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (Monday-Thursday); 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. (Friday); 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. (Saturday)
TRY THIS: Tomales Bay Oysters, Hangtown Fry Deviled Farm Eggs, Beer-Battered Rock Cod Tacos, Wild Gulf Shrimp & Carolina Cheese Grits, Molasses & Bourbon Pork Volcano Shank, The Rocker Smashburger, Bread Pudding
DRINKS: Full bar; beer, wine, & cocktails
HEADS-UP: Weekend brunch; happy hour served Tuesday-Friday from 2-5 p.m.; occasional live music; ample vegetarian and gluten-free options; outdoor seating; seafood is all sustainable and wild caught, meats are free-range and locally farmed, eggs are from pasture-raised chickens, and the vegetables are mostly organic; private event space can accommodate up to 100 people
by Ryan Martinez | photos by TAYLOR ALLRED
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