Whether freshly shucked, baked or served as a shooter or with mignonette, oysters are the stars of many elevated dishes.
By Darice Sebring
Whether you like your oysters baked, fresh, fried, grilled or topped with something completely delectable, there is no doubt that some of the best gourmet oyster dishes can be found here in Newport. The coastal city is home to some incredible chefs serving up memorable meals and, in this case, featuring beautiful shellfish.
There are many people who passionately love oysters and often enjoy them with a traditional accompaniment like lemon, vinaigrette or hot sauce. But oyster preparations go far beyond this simple style. Here, discover some creative takes on these gems of the sea, all available at local restaurants.
Chef Jared Cook of Olea, Cellar-Craft-Cook puts a new spin on classic oysters Rockefeller with a delectable appetizer: blue crab baked oysters with Champagne tarragon butter. A crowd favorite, he took this dish to a new level, exchanging traditional ingredients for creamy watercress, bacon and onions, then adding in a generous amount of fresh, sweet crab meat and melted butter infused with tarragon. “It’s like oysters Rockefeller, but way better,” Cook says. (949-287-6807; oleanewportbeach.com)
Pop by Water Grill for the Honeymoon Oyster, a freshly shucked oyster dish that combines uni roe, tobiko, ikura and a quail egg. It’s very eye-catching—a plated work of art. “The inspiration behind this dish is not something new to the world of sushi,” shares Culinary Director Brian Okada. “We’ve seen several iterations of something similar, so we decided to create our own.” You will taste the brine of the oyster, a fresh salty sensation complemented by the creaminess from the urchin, which is topped with roe and the finishing touch of a quail egg. “The dish is full of a variety of textures offering a delicious experience,” Okada says. (949-208-7060; watergrill.com)
Fly ’N’ Fish Oyster Bar & Grill
At Fly ’N’ Fish Oyster Bar & Grill, you will find the Fresh Shucked Oyster Sampler, featuring three seasonally rotating oysters. The Shibumi are deeply cupped with a clean flavor and hints of melon. Kusshi, a guest favorite from British Columbia, are petite oysters with moderate salt content and cucumber notes. Lastly, the East Coast Blue Points are average size with a good salinity, medium texture and a bright finish. Each option can be topped with one of three accompaniments including pure horseradish or a house cocktail sauce with tequila and fresh ginger. Or, opt for raspberry mignonette made with fresh raspberries, Champagne, vinegar and shallots, adding a tart yet subtle accent to the oysters. (949-673-8400;
It’s true that good things come in small packages or, in this case, a shot glass. If you’re looking for an oyster shooter, Bluewater Grill serves up several. The Island oyster shooter is a refreshing option with ingredients that would likely be found in a tropical beverage: tequila, orange juice, black currant, ginger beer and lime. The Michelada shooter features a combination of beer, lime, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, finished with a salted rim. And the Shucker’s Choice oyster shooter is made with bloody mary mix, vodka, horseradish and lemon. Chef Valentin Salas enjoys creating these shooters with oysters supplied locally from Carlsbad Aquafarm. (949-675-3474; bluewatergrill.com)
The Mayor’s Table Pacific Pub & Kitchen
The Beausoleil oysters at The Mayor’s Table Pacific Pub & Kitchen are complemented by a zesty mignonette made with calamansi. A staple in Southeast Asian cooking, calamansi is a citrus fruit with a tart flavor that’s reminiscent of a combination of lime, lemon and orange. The appetizer was created by Riley Huddleston, executive chef partner and vice president of food and beverage. “The dish highlights the salinity and texture of these beautiful oysters, creating a more uniform space and size, while adding the uniqueness of a calamansi mignonette,” he says. (949-662-6160; lidohousehotel.com)