September 17, 2017

First Look at Island Creek's Oyster Shop

Summer weather has continued to grace Southern Maine these past few weeks, even though the F-word season officially starts on Friday. There's few better ways to enjoy the weather than by sitting outside with a glass of wine and some oysters on the half shell. And the raw bar from Island Creek Oysters, dubbed "The Shop," on Washington Ave. in Portland is the newest spot to soak up some sun and slurp oysters. 

The menu is very simply raw oysters, tinned fish, and caviar with beer and wine. I've visited several times since its opening just after Labor Day and have enjoyed a mix of the Massachusetts and Maine oysters available each time. 

For just $1.50 whether you get them shucked or to go, you can afford to order a dozen made up of a few different varieties. These are some of the cheapest oysters in town outside of a happy hour special. 

The counter service surely helps keep the overhead down—simply mark the desired quantities of oysters or fish on a paper menu available next to the day's selection of oysters on ice. Only three draft beers and a few wines are available, making choosing a beverage nice and easy. 

Oysters are delivered on ice to you at your table. Sit at a few barstools in the window or at a big communal table indoors or head outside if the weather's nice to grab a high top table or a comfy patio couch. 

While I like to eat my oysters as naked as possible, the peppery mignonette available is delicious. The oysters were always well shucked, cold, and the staff is happy to give advice on oyster varieties. 

I love the simplicity of The Shop and its menu. While many restaurant and bars opt to attract customers with complex concepts and elaborate dishes, The Shop goes stripped down with a sunny patio and cheap oysters. Works for me.