Restaurant Review: Island Creek Oyster Bar

by agirlandhermutt on March 28, 2012

Despite being a seafood fan my entire life, I didn’t learn of my love for oysters until I was in my early 20s. Since then, I have found myself having random cravings for those briny little creatures every few months or so.

This month that craving made itself known as I found myself walking past Island Creek Oyster Bar in Kenmore Sq. I made a reservation (they are BUSY!), let The Scientist know we had a date, and got excited.

When I think of an oyster bar I envision a small, intimate space with a few tables and a bar where the shucking occurs. While there is certainly a raw bar in this oyster bar the space is anything but small. The towering ceilings, white-ish furniture, and unique metal fixtures give this enormous space a modern feel while the dim lighting gives it a cozy (and slightly romatic) feel. It is hard to remember you are in Kenmore Square once you step inside.

I had to do a double-take at the back wall, which is no ordinary wall. The metal caging is filled with oysters shells!

We had a reservation for 5:30p and were seated immediately. As the restaurant started to quickly fill up around us we were given a loaf of freshly baked bread paired with a honey cayenne butter. If you are typically a “no bread basket at the table” type of person then I would highly recommend you make an exception for these. The bread was soft, warm and chewy and the butter was salty, sweet and spread beautifully.

When I moved to Massachusetts I discovered that I liked the briny East Coast oysters the best. There is no way I could be described as an oyster expert, but I found Island Creek oysters out of Duxbury, Ma to be just the right amount of brine with a good chunk of meat. I  I’m not one for a ton of grit in my oysters so the firm and clean Island Creek oysters were right up my alley.

Since this is the oyster bar for the oyster farm that brings Island Creeks to the area we decided to order a few of those.

We also started with the No Shell Prince Edward Mussels in a white wine cream, garlic, shallots, parsley sauce. The addition of the Israeli couscous was a nice touch and made this seem more like a stew. The sauce was delicate and perfect, but it made me wish that these mussels actually had the shells so I could have soaked up more of it. Instead we fought for that piece of grilled bread to do some serious dipping.

When it came to entrees I made a slight error with my reading skills. I took a quick glance at the special on the menu, which kind of looks like it is supposed to be hand written, roasted blahblah cod with porcini pasta and broccoli in a lemongrass broth. Mmm…

When it came out I realized I should have asked for some clarification on the blahblah word. It said “whole”. And whole is what I got.

Several people at the neighboring tables also ordered this dish and I heard oohing and ahhing as it was presented. A sign of a well executed dish? I was taken aback but dug in with gusto despite my trepidation. The fish was cooked perfectly and the skin was so crispy that it crackled as I bit into it. The broth was tasty, although I’m not sure it was necessary. I was also hoping for more flavor to the noodles, but enjoyed their light delicate place in the dish.

The Scientist had the Lobster Roe Noodles with braised short rib, grilled lobster, trumpet mushrooms, english peas and pecorino. It was like art work! The dish was layered wonderfully and each bite had a new element in it. The Scientist ate every single bit, but was kind enough to let me have a piece of the grilled lobster. Like buttah.

There was a hefty wine list with a few wines by the glass along with several cocktails and a decent beer list. A little something for everyone.

A word about service…lovely. Our server was as polite and as perky as could be. Perky in that “she is so cute” way and not perky in that “I could pull her ponytail” way.  The water glasses were always full and our meal moved along smoothly.

It seemed like almost every detail in the restaurant was thought of how it could be incorporated into the theme and vibe of the atmosphere without being cheesy, including the weight that held down our bill.

Despite my slight snafu in ordering, Island Creek Oyster Bar was a meal worthy of a Friday night outing. I plan on returning and the next time I’m coming for even MORE oysters and the lobster roe pasta. Expect to see me up at the bar with mollusk in hand!

Island Creek Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

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Hope you guys are having a good day. Tonight marks my half-way point through my Level 2 Sign Language class! We are starting conversations and the absurd errors we all make while signing results in a pretty hilarious class.

See ya tomorrow!

Are you an oyster fan? If so, cracker or no cracker?!

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