Thursday, August 1, 2013

Shuck Oyster Bar (Costa Mesa)

I went on a hike this past week with some people from work and when a girl asked where I lived I told her Huntington Beach. She commented that I must eat seafood all the time as I live in a beach town.  I had to laugh.  No, I do not eat seafood all of the time and no I do not always hang out at the beach.  In fact, I have not gone to lay out on the sand for years!  (I do bike the beach trail but that is the most action the ocean has seen from me in years.)

That being said, I though how funny that she would think that I eat seafood all of the time and realized it had been a while since I had.  Anywhere in Orange County is an easy drive to a beach and we have a ton of great restaurants that serve some pretty stellar seafood.  On that note, only one raw bar has come to my notice and that is Shuck Oyster Bar located at the SoCo shopping center in Costa Mesa.

Again, this one has been on the list since before it even opened.  It was one of the restaurants that a bunch of us wanted to go to but were never available at the same time.  Limited seating and the place does fill up, but we got there a little earlier and all secured places at the bar in front of the oyster shuckers.  Above the bar hangs a large black chalkboard etched with names of different types of oysters.  An oyster shell is placed next to the names of the oysters currently available for tasting.  The oysters are organically farmed raised and are anywhere from 16 hours up to two days out of the water.  The oysters are sourced from Massachusetts to Canada to Oregon and Washington.  The guys behind the bar were very well versed in their oyster knowledge and made some great suggestions so do not be afraid to glean some information off of them while you are there.
Fried Oysters | Shuck Oyster Bar in Costa Mesa

Oysters are $3 a pop and totally worth it.  You can select which variety you want or you can ask for the chef to select for you and just tell them the number you want to try.  To start off, three of us split a dozen of the chefs specials.  The varieties sampled were Kusshi, Hurricane, Sunken Meadow, and Island Creek.  They were all excellent but I feel in love with the Island Meadow and in fact ended the evening by ordering two more to down before heading home.  Apparently this the variety served at the White House and to that I say, nice choice.  I could still taste the fresh salt water with each bite.  Shuck offers a few choices of “dressings” to place on top of your oyster should you so choose.  First, a chili sauce that reminds me of a mellow Sriracha.  Next a horse radish dish followed by my favorite, red wine vinegar concoction with onions and cucumber.  I placed a little bit of the vinegar dressing on my oysters which matched the clean and crisp flavor perfectly.

Wine and beer are served and I opted for a chardonnay to go with the oysters.  It was not quite noteworthy, but still a nice compliment to the meal.  Others sampled the beer and seemed to like it.  My oldest sister ordered the clams and sausage which I tried and loved.  We make a version of this with orange and chorizo, but this was a great flavor combination as well.  Middle sister ordered the Caesar salad sans anchovies and the grilled cheese.  She was pretty pleased with her choices.
As I sit here typing I am getting hungry just thinking of those Island Creek oysters and might just swing by on the way home if only for a little sample.
Vegetarian option of Grilled Cheese Sandwich | Shuck Oyster Bar in Costa Mesa

Also, the guys behind that bar were cracking us up all night and seemed to be having a lot of fun.  Whether you stop by for a romantic dinner or just to shoot some oysters with friends, you won’t be disappointed.  Thanks for the good times, food, and fun memories.