Touch Oyster House & Lounge | Springfield, MO
Guilty of Creating Oyster Loving Monsters
Mike Jalili got his start in the restaurant industry as a young lad in New York, where he worked first as a bus boy, then bartender, manager, and finally, kitchen chef. “I discovered that this industry is where I wanted to be,” he said. Fast-forward a few years, and we find him in Springfield, Missouri, the proprietor of a casual fine-dining restaurant called Touch Oyster House and Lounge.
Let’s start with the oysters. Jalili is very particular about the oysters he serves his guests at Touch. “We procure the finest oysters from exclusively northern waters of both the East and West Coasts of the U.S.” The oyster menu is prefaced with a claim: “This place can turn your not-so-adventurous yet seafood-eating friends who exclaim ‘I don’t like oysters!’ into lemon-squeezing, Tabasco-pouring, oyster-eating monsters.” Varieties include Chesapeake Bay, Fanny Bay, Wellfleet, Katama, Gigamoto, Pickering Pass, Hood Canal and Chef Creek.
Fresh seafood is flown in three times a week, and it is put to good use by Chef Josh Thomas throughout the menu. Several of the starters and small plates include: Lobster Bisque; Ceviche of the Day; Shrimp Bijan (jumbo shrimp wrapped in prosciutto, with horseradish pesto and creole brown mustard); Maine Mussels (garlic lemon butter, fresh tarragon, served in a bread bowl); and Massachusetts Scallop Pasta (saffron cream, handmade linguini). The tempting Touch Tower is erected with four jumbo shrimp, a dozen oysters and a half-pound of Alaskan King Crab legs.
Chilean Sea Bass is the bestseller in the entrée category. The fish is encrusted with pecans and cashews, and served with Truffled Mushroom Risotto. High-grade Hawaiian Ahi Tuna is plated with sautéed bok choy and kale, ginger lemongrass broth and guacamole. The Walleye Fish ‘N’ Chips pairs breaded, fried fish with salt and vinegar fries, served with chipotle ketchup and malt vinegar. Simply Grilled Scottish Salmon comes to the table with sriracha honey butter and chef’s vegetables.
Carnivores can get their steak on at Touch as well, with Ribeyes, Filets and Kansas City Strips, or opt for chicken or pork chops. Desserts are referred to as “Heaven,” and many diners pray that they’ll still have room for the famous Chocolate Bowl, topped with chocolate mousse, strawberries, chocolate torte and frozen custard. Amen.
The wine list is extensive, collected from across the globe — California, Oregon, France, Italy, Spain, Argentina and more. Many vintages are sold by-the-glass.
The interior space is gorgeous, elegant and eclectic. The light fixtures are works of art, and walls are covered in colorful murals. Outside, a huge fountain can be seen and heard from the patio and balcony. Touch definitely appeals to all of the senses.
Seventy-five full- and part-time employees keep things running smoothly. The dining room accommodates 150, while the lounge seats 100. Four party rooms accommodate special events of all kinds. In addition to Touch, Mike Jalili owns and operates Flame, which specializes in dry-aged steaks, and Black Sheep, a burger and shake joint.