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Jays Oyster Portland Maine

Highly recommended and not having gone there before...I stopped in with family for a late afternoon lunch.

It is a first and last restaurant...

First time there...and it will be my last.

Not even worth getting into it...

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  1. I'm with you! Lousy lousy lousy.

    1. agreed.
      just plain Gross.

      1. As the biggest defender of J's Oyster on this board, I wish the criticisms were not so vague and that you detailed the reasons for your conclusions.

        I have been there about 5 times and each time it has been way above average and a great deal for the prices charged. The oysters are good - not the best in the world but cheap and worth the price. The draft beers are cold and well poured. The fish sandwich is delicious and uses freshly caught haddock. the view of the harbor and outside seating is better than most downtown locations. The lunch atmosphere is authentic "down east" with some business types and tourists thrown in. Everyone is super friendly.

        I made my case. All you hit and run critics - time for you to get specific.

        2 Replies
        1. re: StevensAve

          Ok, flies swarming around some pre-shucked oysters is just wrong!! I don't know how far in advance they shuck them, but not nice and cold is very wrong too. That should be enough specifics - did you sit at the bar? (you'll see the flies if you do)

          1. re: StevensAve

            oyster plates stacked on top of each other causing numerous shell pieces to be deposited on/in the oysters.
            warm oysters.
            dry oysters.
            horrible bloody marys (i can't even begin to describe the off-flavors)
            dirty dining room.
            dirty bathrooms.

          2. I live in Portland and NEVER go to J's. It sucks. If you are not a regular the bartender will not even look at you. The food is gross, the place is filthy and most of all the oysters are TERRIBLE and not local. Don't ever go here.

            2 Replies
            1. re: sopo

              ok ill never go to J s again,once finding fore st,duckfat,the market on commerial st ,etc ,etc,theres really no going back to j s.but my question i guess is,where do you get the good ,fresh ,local oysters in portland,maybe a good fish sandwich,all local style?

              1. re: im hungry

                Old Port Sea Grill about 3 blocks (or less) away,

                although i've had issues with with shucking. nothing awful just a few broken oysters.

            2. I have only been to Jay's twice, both times in the winter. I live on the South Shore of Massachusetts and also on the Cape so feel qualified to comment on oysters and fish sandwiches. My husband I and I always enjoyed the oysters at Jay's, they were cold and fresh and delicious. Ditto the fish sandwich, which was also very fresh and excellent. I declined to order the lobster roll and as the waitress said the lobster was frozen but women at an adjoining table raved about them and said "best ever." I also like the atmosphere and more and more appreciate a place that is "real" rather than sleek and slick and glitzy, they are becoming few and far between.

              1 Reply
              1. re: taddybelle

                I'd never call J's a culinary must, but it's a pretty decent place if you like dives on the water in Maine. The Oysters and everything else are unspectacular, but fit the price and setting well. I'd go every so often during summer to sit by the water over some schwill beer and mediocre food and have a good time for short money.

                .....now down the street, Dry Dock on the other hand.......blech. There is a similar concept serving total garbage for shell fish. I can do okay oysters and clams ala J's, I no can do oysters and clams that are literally pulled from the mud, not rinsed at all and served to you in all their gritty nasty glory for a 50% higher price than at J's.

              2. Ok I'll be specific

                outside ...dirty, old worn out, get some paint
                staff hanging out back door smoking...
                inside...dirty floors...not peanut shells dirty...grungy, sticky table
                Bathroom...don't even start...I've seen cleaner gas station restrooms that were abandoned

                My beer glass had a nice big bright kiss of lipstick on the rim

                Now..the positives

                The food

                my oyster stew and my wifes clam chowder looked like the same thing... someone used a pot of old overcooked milk...and dropped in the garnishes...my oysters were old and dried out...not sure how that happens in a stew...and the stew was sour...the oil had broken out of the milk and it was a weird grey yellow color. Sour and spoiled.

                My daughters lobster sandwich tasted like it had pre cooked lobster...maybe not frozen but packaged...definitely not fresh...her hot dog roll was good.

                They served it with a lovely garnisg ...Mayo in a packet you squeeze out of foil!!!!

                When we looked for our waitress...asking for some melted butter...I had to get up walk around and find her...where was she...at the end of the bar with the rest of the staff drinking...

                the chef (there's a exageration)graciously put down his drink...handed me a cup of butter so I could walk back by myself.

                My wife had pasta and marinara with shrimp...basically a new version of the traditional New England boiled dinner..bread sucked...and i don;t use that word often.

                The view was lovely...if you could see it through the old, cloudy decrepit windows...fogged up in between the panes of glass...and dirty...sure thyere was a view.

                The prices we paid were far to expensive...almost $100 for lunch for three...so not only will I never go back but others will hear about it...and I am spending the weekend in Portland staruing on Saturday...

                They should be ashamed to call themselves a restaurant.

                1. Can anyone on this thread please tell me how this place stays in business? Is it the view?

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: bewley

                    they have a good booze crowd at 5pm and that carries them through the week

                    1. re: irwin

                      The oysters were great there a long time ago. I think they buy cheaper oysters every year instead of raising the price.
                      The best thing about J's is the cold beer and the people watching. From local Mainers to tourists from NY, there's always something fun to look at while you have a frosty one.

                      1. re: elgato

                        i've got no problem with buying an inexpensive product, but really, treat it with some Respect.

                        1. re: ScubaSteve

                          J's is disgusting. Dirty, warm oysters, rude staff ( yes I am a native ) grey outhouse smellling chowder, just gross gross gross. I hate it when some tourista comes to visit and they read about it somewhere. If it is an in-law, I might take them, ( kidding! ) but there are way better places, down the street is the Old Port Sea Grill. Place is great. *and CLEAN.

                    2. re: bewley

                      It stays in business because there are people who love it don't love it for its oysters. Look, you guys want something out of J's that it doesn't purport to provide. It's a fishermen's dive bar on the wharf. It serves an outrageously good and greasy fish sandwich for the right price, and the bartenders will look at you just fine if you're polite and have a smile on your face. J's is the best place in town for people-watching and learning what the marine economy in Portland is all about. It's also one of the few places a local can find a seat at the bar on a busy summer Saturday night and enjoy a bit of respite from the hordes of tourists. If you want fine dining, find some other destination, but don't expect a favorite Portland hole in the wall to be something its not.

                      1. re: mminmaine

                        Its still a dive
                        It still has a rude wait staff
                        It still is unclean
                        It still has no parking
                        Its fish sandwich is no better then 5 or 6 joints on the same street without rude waiters
                        We really know is not "fine dining" !
                        Keep going there because they will need your business this winter !!

                        1. re: irwin

                          I eat at diners and dives...I know the difference between simple clean and and a complete aversion to basic sanitation and service standards.

                          If the priuces for the food reflected the quality of the food and service I would feel better...

                          Lets close this thread down...not worth the effort

                    3. My husband and I had lunch at J's in mid-March. Our waitress was charming , very helpful and efficient. The oysters were ice cold, plump and delicious, the grilled fish sandwich was excellent. The view was lovely on a bright sunny day and I appreciate the authenticity of the place (I term it "real") in an age of plastic and fake and slick and sleek. There was a large crowd of friendly people of all ages and ethnicities. It was a completely enjoyable experience.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: taddybelle

                        then they must of done a 180 since my visit last Spring.
                        i admit that i like the Idea of the place but the execution left a Lot to be desired.

                        1. re: ScubaSteve

                          I second the motion Steve !!!!!
                          Too many other places get it right the first time......
                          I don't want my automobile mechanic screwing up the first time either !1
                          I don't think they accomplished a turn-around, but, Taddybelle just hit it right, when most of us hit-it at the wrong time.....
                          Sorry, just telling you the way it was and is!!

                      2. The most unkept, uncleanest stretch of restaurants in Portland is on that end and side of Commercial street. I don't know how somebody can look at a place and see these conditions and say "Hey, mmmm I wanna eat there". Maybe the worst is on the side of Rira and Flatbread, where the cooks gather to smoke. It's terrible.

                        A place that everyone else loves but is just as bad with this is Fore Street. How can somebody take so much pride in their restaurant yet have that first part of the building look so disgusting from the outside, also with a worker or two out there every five minutes smoking in a filthy uniform.

                        I probably frequent 5 of the 160 places we have on the peninsula due to too many places looking awful and skechy cooks. I've worked in the food industry all my life and I don't see why it's so hard to have a clean appearance.

                        Rant over

                        1. I ate there last summer and had a good meal. I had the $20 lobster meal that came with bread, corn and clams in broth, iirc. The lobster was sweet and tender. I may not be the greatest judge, being a West Coaster, and I might have found a better place, but I took the place for what it was, a locals type casual joint. I enjoyed being able to sit at the horseshoe shaped bar solo, have a 1/2 carafe of wine and an attentive server chat me up a bit. Didn't notice it particularly dirty or clean.

                          I did notice that they preshuck the oysters and lay them on a bed of ice. That wouldn't have bothered me tooo much, but I noticed that they periodically hosed them off with water, so I didn't order any.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: coconutz

                            The bride and I had a snack there Saturday. The clam chowder she had was pretty good. Once again I had the oysters. Never again. Yes they're cheap, but you get what you pay for. We got there before noon and there must have been two bushels already shucked.
                            They had to be at least 75 degrees F. Dry and nasty.
                            I love J's for the beer and atmosphere, but if they let their oysters get that warm, what else are they leaving lying around? Holding temps in restaurants are critical for food safety. Oh, and the stink coming out of the steamers made it obvious that the water inside was old. Old water means no or little cleaning.