Saturday, March 26, 2011

J’s Oyster

I require oysters in my life. It’s just a simple fact of my existence. You could call it an obsession, a passion, a love. The world as we know it could cease to exist, but I’d still be happy if I had some oysters.

Is oysterphilia a word? It should be.

So it was only natural that, being in Maine for my birthday, that I devoured a plate of oysters by midday. We’d heard that J’s Oyster was one of the best places to get oysters in Portland, and I immediately felt at home as soon as we walked through the door. For a bar at mid-afternoon on a Wednesday it was pretty full of people downing pints and devouring seafood.

And then I saw it—the stuff wet dreams are made of for any oyster lover. A heaping pile of oysters right in the center of the bar. It was beautiful. I could hardly contain myself.

To accompany my oysters I decided to get a Bombay Sapphire gin martini with a twist of lemon. Usually I go for olives in my martinis, but the lemon twist seemed like a better accompaniment to enhance and not overpower the oysters. 

Warning: The bartenders at J’s Oyster are incredibly generous with their martinis. In addition to serving an entire martini glass filled with gin, they also give you a little carafe on ice that is filled with whatever was left in the cocktail shaker. So essentially you get two martinis. Two martinis and a plate of oysters for my birthday? Yes, please.

J’s is also quite generous with their oysters. We ordered a dozen, but I swear there were at least 15 on the plate. We were definitely not complaining about that! The oysters, interestingly, were not from Maine waters but instead hailed from the James River of the Chesapeake Bay region. I had yet to try Chesapeake Bay oysters, and I’m always happy to try out oysters from different regions and get to know the flavors associated with particular waters.

In comparison to the more salty, briny Maine oysters, those from the James River have a more subtle salinity to them. They are milder in flavor and intensity than most Atlantic Ocean oysters but I’m still a fan. And the gin martini with a lemon twist? Definitely a great accompaniment to oysters. I highly recommend it for your next oyster experience.

After the oysters we were still in the mood for some seafood so we ordered a bucket of steamers. Steamers are soft-shell clams and require a proper procedure before they can be eaten. First take the clam out of the shell. They have this little appendage that extends out of the shell and is covered by a black membrane, so you need to shuck this membrane by holding the clam and peeling it off. It’s a little weird, but you get used to it pretty quickly. Dip the clam into a bowl of clam broth to get off any extra sand, then dip it in some butter, and eat up! These steamers were delicious—I’d never experienced them before and I’m hooked. They take a little work but are definitely worth it. 

If you’re in Portland, Maine, and looking for a great, casual bar on the port with a rustic atmosphere and incredible seafood, then J’s Oyster is the place to be. Just be sure to have an oyster for me…

J's Oyster on Urbanspoon

J's Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

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