Oyster Boy is probably where I ate my first oyster. This seafood house is renowned for the briny, slippery, sometimes misunderstood delicacy, both due to the freshness of their oysters (which they also do wholesale for other restaurants in the city) and the constant shucking visible from almost anywhere in the restaurant.
Be sure to book a reservation for this place, because it’s always packed, unless maybe you’re coming in right at five by yourself for a quick plate of oysters or bowl of chowder. The adorable thank you letters in the bathroom are a testament to the legacy of this place.
It comes off as appropriately nautical in here without being too kitschy, oyster shells marking the bathroom doors and maps of certain coastlines on the walls.
The iconic long front bar directly faces shucking action, and other high tables and a banquette at the back feel intimate while still being very close together.
If you’re not ordering a huge platter of oysters, why are you here? Though there are other items, these are the stars, and varieties are constantly changing but always Canadian. We take a suggested selection of PEI Savage Blondes, Nova Scotia Black Points, and sweet little St. Simon New Brunswick oysters (my favourite of the day).
They’re served with a classic mignonette, chunky house cocktail sauce, and a spicy house banana pepper and ginger sauce, along with the typical accompaniments of lemon and fresh grated horseradish.
Their pastas are go-to’s for me, like this heavenly winter saffron risotto ($20 for a small size) with juicy grilled shrimp, marinated mussels, roasted cherry tomatoes and poached lobster and radish, which is incredibly buttery. The tomato, micro greens and saffron add a tart bite.
The mixed grill ($60) is a definite special occasion blowout, and isn’t even that pricey considering it could feed an entire table succulent Alaskan king crab legs, shrimp, clams, a furl of tender calamari, and whole sea bream during our visit, all with indulgently rich melted butter and a mountain of aromatic parmesan fries.
Caesars ($10) use Walter’s craft caesar mix, rimmed with spice and garnished with lemon, lime, pickle, olive, cocktail onion, a heap of fresh horseradish, and for two bucks extra a fresh oyster. I recommend sipping the caesar, slurping the oyster, and sipping the caesar again.
A big reason reservations are needed is due to the sheer size of the space: there’s barely room for more than forty people in here. If you long to enjoy great oysters outside their four walls, they’ll teach you how to shuck yourself at Shuck U classes, and also offer catering.