Oysters are undoubtedly one of the greatest pleasures in life. But to the uninitiated, ordering and enjoying oysters can be extremely intimidating. What type of oysters should you order? How should you eat them? What should you drink with them?
At Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine, we want you to enjoy the unique culinary experience that is eating oysters. So here, we’re going to demystify the “Raw Bar” section of our menu by giving you a brief education on the oysters we serve, tasting notes, and how to best enjoy them.
Raw bar guide. At Lionfish, we serve three basic types of oysters: East Coast, West Coast, and Baja. The specific offerings may vary, so be sure to consult with your server to see what’s available at the time of your visit. Regardless of which type of oyster you order, they will be served with white balsamic mignonette and lemon; in terms of quantity, they are available by the dozen or half dozen.
Don’t forget happy hour! During happy hour, Lionfish offers select oysters at just $1 each. That’s a steal of a deal!
Here’s a brief overview on the different types of oysters we offer:
East Coast The first thing you’ll notice about East coast oysters is that they have smoother shells and more rounded edges. Color-wise, the shells might include brown, green, or white accents. East coast waters tend to be colder, which slows down the metabolism of the oysters, resulting in a crisp, sweet flavor and very high level of salinity (aka saltiness).
West Coast: Oysters from the West coast tend to have shells with more jagged edges and ridges, though there are some exceptions. Those rough, more flute-edged shells tend to leave room for more plump oyster meat. Flavor-wise, oysters from the West coast can vary quite a bit. Some will taste very briny; others will heave more earthy undertones (almost grassy) and a higher degree of sweetness.
Baja: Baja oysters are characterized by a firm texture and a unique flavor. Salty and creamy, some say that Baja oysters don’t even require any flavoring or “dressing”. If you’re visiting from out of town, be sure to sample some of our local oysters!
Is there one winner? Is one type of oyster better than the other? Not really. Honestly, that’s like asking if one type of wine is better than another. It’s not a matter of one type of oyster being superior; it’s more about the flavor journey.
Each type of oyster has a unique flavor profile; to really begin to gain an appreciation for these mollusks, the best thing to do is to try plenty of varieties! After a while, you’ll begin to appreciate the subtleties of each type and may discover your own favorites.
What should I drink with oysters? Fine question: what is the perfect beverage accompaniment with oysters?
The first and most obvious choice is bubbles. Champagne or sparkling wine and oysters is a classic pairing for a reason. The bubbles are the perfect pairing with the saltiness of oysters, balancing and complementing it crisply and perfectly.
However, bubbles aren’t the only option with oysters! There are plenty of other options that taste great and can bring a new dimension to your oyster eating experience.
- Sweet wines: A sweeter wine can act as a pleasing contrast to the saltiness of oysters.
- Dry wines: Some prefer a crisp, dry wine with oysters, as it works well with the salinity. Try a dry white wine with oysters.
- Beer: Beers with fruit undertones can pair well with oysters, as their malt sweetness will round out the saltiness.
- Spirits: Spirits such as gin or whiskey (and cocktails containing them) can be a refreshing pairing with oysters.
Fun facts about oysters
Now that you’re ready to order, here are some fun facts for sharing with your friends over a dozen oysters.
- Presto, change-o: oysters have the ability to change their sex.
- Oysters are a superfood! They are rich in vitamins A, C, D and B-12. Here’s to your health!
- Oysters are the food of love. According to legend, the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite, originally emerged from the sea from an oyster shell.
- Pearls used in jewelry are produced in clams and mussels, not oysters as commonly believed.
- Oysters clean the water! Believe it or not, each oyster filters as much as 30 to 50 gallons of water a day. Just think about how much water is being cleaned and filtered by an entire bed of oysters!
- Some say that oysters are better in the winter. The summer months are when oysters spawn, which some say makes the flavor more mild; the winter months, when the water is colder, yields more assertively flavored oysters. What do you think?
- Oyster shells help plants grow. The calcium in those shells can improve soil’s pH balance, adding nutrients to plants. That means that you can have healthier plants and more beautiful flowers.
Ready to order up a half (or better yet a full) dozen oysters? Come on over to Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine and put your newfound oyster education to work!
What’s your favorite type of oyster?