Oysters: an aphrodisiac so divine that people risk their lives eating them raw. Jim Stump knows the key to our hearts when it comes to these slippery bivalves. At his latest restaurant, Forthright Oyster Bar and Kitchen, the veteran chef and restaurateur, who also owns The Table in Willow Glen, understands that as much as diners enjoy a tasty half-dozen oysters, they especially enjoy it for happy hour prices every day.

On a recent Sunday escapade to the new eatery in Campbell, happy hour ran a lengthy 2-6pm. The oyster on sale was the Hammersley from Washington for $1.50 each. They were small, briny and juicy, served with a shallot mignonette and lemon wedges. The six oysters were a satisfying way to whet our appetite for the meal to come.

For cautious eaters, Forthright offers plenty of cooked oyster options such as the fried oyster tacos, buttered roasted oysters, and two versions of oysters Rockefeller. We opted for the original style ($10) made with herbed butter and pernod (anise-flavored liqueur) on top of panko bread crumbs. The oysters were cooked flawlessly, but the panko crumbs had flavor only where the herbed butter mixture had soaked into it, leaving patches of bland bread crumbs.

The simple menu of small plates, soups and entrees allows for sampling and sharing along with an extensive beer and cocktail selection. The bartender can be seen mixing drinks alongside the chefs cooking in the open kitchen behind the bar, which extends the length of the room. The environment is open and vibrant, lending itself to the staff’s easy maneuvering to service each guest.

We sat at a window-side table and received excellent service, each dish being served as it was ready, starting with cold items. The Peruvian ceviche ($6) immediately won presentation points for its symmetrical plating of a line of albacore tuna cubes marinated in tiger’s milk dressing and sprinkled with sweet potato and corn. This was a refreshing rendition of the classic Peruvian-style ceviche with all the proper elements. Served at the same time was the tako kimchi poki ($6), which showcased the chef’s expert handling of octopus. With an affordable price and delicious taste, this dish is a must-order appetizer.

It wouldn’t be a Jim Stump restaurant if there wasn’t a signature burger. At Forthright, the new version is called The Only Burger That Belongs On The Table (Chris’ Version 1.0). Pairing this juicy burger ($16) with the ultra-crispy Old Bay Fries ($5) was a winning combination.

The genius of Forthright is in the simplicity of its menu. It doesn’t have too many items and has just enough variety of surf and turf, hot and cold, small and large. Diners can easily create a meal of complimentary dishes. For example, the crab cake ($16) would go well with something like the Scotch Egg ($9), which was larger than expected.

In many ways, Forthright is a deserving sister restaurant to The Table, but there are key differences. This restaurant is in West Campbell with plenty of parking. There are no lines yet and the flexibility of the menu and layout make it a great place to stop off for a dozen oysters at the bar or stay for a full meal. Forthright should be a refreshing change of pace for anyone who has circled the block at Willow Glen only to wait in line at The Table. It has many of the same beloved elements with a menu that leans towards the sea.

Forthright Oyster Bar & Kitchen
1700 W Campbell Ave, Campbell
Seafood, $$