HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Let's talk Oysters!

Headed to Boston for the weekend with hubby and daughter to look at colleges.

Have reservations at a few nice restaurants with lots of seafood.

I like oysters but know nothing about them. There is an oyster menu.

Anyone here partial to a specific kind? To be honest I thought they were all the same (stupid me)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Disclosure: mom had relatives in PEI who passed on their prejudices.

    Preference: Malpeques--to me, they taste of the sea more than any other variety...a good, clean lovely sweet salty taste.

    1. Find a restaurant that has a good variety and order one or two of each. They are all different and almost none are bad. Last time I was in Seattle, the spot i was at had 13 different ones that day. So, I had two Bakers dozen for lunch.

      1. Get a sampler so that you can taste the differences. I always love a good kumamoto. Belons are nice but need to make sure they're fresh since they come from france. Local stuff should be the freshest. Get some from Maine. Oysters really vary depending on where they are from. My recollection is that all native east coast american oyster are one species. However that one species will pick up different characteristics from the local waters. Different species for the european atlantic coast and both sides of the pacific. Once you find the ones you like, you can order more of those. It can get pricey if you're devouring oysters. I've spent $100+ on just oysters for myself. Ever been to Paris? They really go crazy for oysters there. You can order them by type and grade.

        ETA - Have you tried the bone marrow yet?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Bkeats

          "Local stuff should be the freshest. Get some from Maine. Oysters really vary depending on where they are from."

          Agreed. A got oyster bar will tell you exactly where they are from, similar to wine appelations

        2. If the restaurant is "serious" then they will have good oyster and will only serve you the good ones.

          I don't eat oyster enough to be able to really see (smell and taste) the difference between similar varieties.

          The only thing is that I like the smaller ones; and that paying extra price for "imported" oysters is not worth it ( for example west coast or french oysters) when we have good ones on the east coast, especially if you are a newbie.


          1. Kumamotos - clean crisp sweet.

            1. A good restaurant that serves a variety of oysters will describe them. Order a couple of each and taste the difference. I am partial to smaller oysters but that's my personal opinion.
              I usually order oysters that are somewhat local thinking that they will be fresher but that may be totally unfounded.
              In NYC I like the Grand Central Oyster bar which will have at least a dozen varieties on hand.
              Enjoy your slurp fest!!

              1. Get yourself somewhere half way up the BC coast where you can pick the oysters up yourself. Collect some and make a little camp fire and place some of the oysters on a hot rock in the fire. Let them steam open. Eat them with 'brown butter'. Eat the others raw. You will remember that time for the rest of your life.

                1. Go to Neptune Oyster, in Boston's North End. It's a tiny little place, so make reservations if you can, but it's better to show up at off times to avoid very long lines and waits. They have a wide variety of oysters, and they name them and tell you where they are from. It's a great crash course if you're not an oyster expert.

                  Also, their lobster roll sandwich is widely regarded as THE BEST. I can't recommend that place highly enough.


                  1. Warm water oysters - Texas, Louisiana-- tend to taste muddy. The colder the water the better the oyster, in my book. Maine, Oregon, Washington, British Colombia...

                    Cheers! (& sluuurp!)

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: FishTales

                      Bkeats- The marrow is this weekend in Boston. Can't wait!!!

                      ok, the Oyster menu where we are going (supposed to be a great restaurant) only has local Mass oysters. Hummmmmmm

                      Island Creek Oyster Bar in the Hotel Commonwealth

                      I think I have had Wellfleet before. Maybe we should seek out somewhere that has more of a variety. Maybe not. I have no idea!

                      What is a good cocktail to pair with oysters. We are not wine drinkers.

                      Thanks for all of the replies. I live 45m north of NYC and have an anniversary coming up, maybe we will go to the GC Oyster Bar.

                      1. re: doberlady

                        Mass oysters are fine. There is variety as there is a lot of coastline but a place that had oysters from a little farther would give you more to sample. As to cocktails, I always love a good martini to go with oysters.

                        GC Oyster Bar would be a place to have a drink and oysters before an anniversary dinner. Definitely not a place I would go for the main event. Too noisy and the food is mostly meh. Great selection of oysters. I prefer Aquagrill though. Closer to home.

                        1. re: Bkeats

                          thanks for the suggestion. Just looked it up. Looks amazing!

                          1. re: Bkeats

                            @ Grand Central make sure you sit at the actual oyster bar to get the whole NYC experience. Keep it simple: Oysters, chowder and a drink. The rest of the menu is not memorable.
                            We'll hit GCOB as an appetizer before heading out to a more memorable Manhattan meal.

                          2. re: doberlady

                            Some people like single malt Scotch whisky with oysters. A lot depends on the oyster region & Scotch region, of course.

                            Some folk go for Guinness.


                            1. re: FishTales

                              And some of us go for a glorious dry rosé!

                            2. re: doberlady

                              ICOB has Oysters from all over the place; probably the widest and best variety of any place in Boston. Lots of local oysters (usually including there own Island Creeks from Mass--which by the way are Keller's preferred oysters for French Laundry and Per Se)--but also from other places.

                            3. re: FishTales

                              Fish Tales, the oysters from the bays along the Gulf are delicious, nice and briny, when the water temperature is below 60, typically late December until March ish, or April. I only cook them otherwise, and avoid entirely in the heat of summer.

                            4. If you have an iPhone theres a cute app called Oysterpedia. The break the oysters down into East Coast and West Coast. Then when you tap the oyster name it shows a photo and gives some information about the oyster type. I don't have much more info aside from that as i've never been to Boston and when I order oysters I usually just ask for sweeter ones. Hopefully this little app will be fun for you to use!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: mcookie

                                just downloaded it mcookie. Thanks!

                              2. If you're going to Island Creek Oyster Bar, they will have a good selection. The eponymous Island Creeks, Wianno, and my personal favorite, Malpeques are all good. Maine varieties include Glidden Point and Taunton Bay- love 'em both!
                                I'm not a big fan of Neptune Oyster, but YMMV.
                                Seconding Oysterpedia.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: mollydingle

                                  Yes to Island Creek. Thanks for the suggestions!

                                  1. re: doberlady

                                    Back from our oyster fest. In love with oysters. We had Wellfleet and Moon Shoal

                                    I liked the Moon Shoal the best and we had 4 dozen of them. I loved that vinegar sauce (what is it called) that came with it.

                                    Thanks for all of your help!

                                      1. re: doberlady

                                        The sauce sounds like mingnonette, completely forgotten in this country for years. I used to make my own and put it in old Lea & Perrins bottles back in the 1960's and 1970's and take it with me to oyster bars. It wa re-discovered by cooks going to library cookbook sections several years ago.

                                  2. I have a soft spot for Cape May Salts.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: huiray

                                      person after my own heart! Cape May Salts are briny and have a great texture
                                      after that, I also love Malpeques and Wiannos
                                      Wianno's have a crispness to them, that I really enjoy
                                      (I skip anything but a tiny squeeze of lemon on them, most times, but Knife & Fork in AC has that jalapeno sorbet, a nice touch for a change up)

                                    2. If you are going to Boston, stick to east coast oysters .. nothing against west coast, but in Boston, eat local. I prefer colder waters, but pretty much everything a good raw bar will serve will be from RI up..

                                      Neptune, B&G, Island Creek are all good. I prefer mignonette sauce - vinegar, cracked peppercorns, shallots... cocktail sauce with horseradish tends to blow out the flavor of the oysters.

                                      I usually ask what's the freshest, and have them mix up 3-4 types on a plate of a dozen. They should tell you what is what on the plate.

                                      Some places like Legal or Summer Shack will do cheaper happy hour oysters, but they usually are more common ones like Blue Points.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: grant.cook

                                        But the contrast between NE and NW is huge, so if you CAN get super fresh NW oysters...see if the sweet versus salt thing jumps out at you, like it does for me and my sweetie.

                                        I've been spoiled with wee Kumamotos for years, though.

                                      2. I want to participate here tomorrow - I see it's not just Boston now.

                                        1. Oysters are one of the few foods I just don't care for? Have tried them every which way... breaded/fried, in oyster stew, baked/broiled, even raw. Just don't like 'em??