Another year, another birthday, this time it was Brent’s birthday. We decided to go all fancy for our fooding this week given the special occasion. It was a toss-up between seafood and steak and (surprisingly?) seafood won. And it is a good thing it did. As Brent informed me on our way to Rodney’s Oyster House, oysters are best eaten in the colder months when they get all tubby in preparation for the colder months, I thought nothing of it. How can you make something slimey and salty any more appetizing? (Raw oysters are delicious, despite all appearances and descriptions). Plus when Brent called to make the reservation the voice on the phone mentioned that high-quality oyster season was upon us.
After some getting lost in alleyways we finally made it. We sat down and promptly found ourselves staring at a huge list of available raw oysters, in addition to other seafood fare. There was no question about it: we would start with oysters. Brent was about to order a plateful of ONE TYPE. I cried out: no!! We should order a plethora of different ones so as to try and get a good variety! They were sold individually after all. We covered the spread trying one from the Atlantic (Mystic Select, and one’s from Rodney’s own farm in PEI) as well as fancy-shmancy ones from the Pacific coast with a fancy name and a fancy price tag. There were special house hot sauces as well, but oysters are best eaten on their own. The clear winner of the three was fancy-shmancy one. Partly because it was so tiny and easy to eat, partly because it was least saltiest, but mostly because it was tastiest. Was there a difference between these oysters and the ones we had at Oyster Boy during the off-season? I think so. They were chewier (as in fattier) and heartier. But then again, I’m not oyster-noisseur.
In addition to the oysters we ordered a serving of marinated mussels to split. We were given a small ramekin atop a bed of lettuce with a lemon wedge on the side. Inside the ramekin were little tiny snail-like blobs swimming in a sea of onions. One bite and I was in heaven! Any Polish person will absolutely love this take on mussels, it is basically just like pickled herring except instead of large pieces of herring (with all their damn little choke-inducing bones) you have tiny little bits of mussels. It was easily one of the best dishes I have ever had in my life. When we ordered and the waiter said we had made a “good choice” we looked at each other, it seemed like a waiter thing to say. Not so. He was right. He came back to ask how it was and explained that it used to be a really popular dish and that he usually recommends it.
For our mains we moved away from raw mollusks. Brent had the lobster club, which I had been considering but I could not pass up the garlic shrimp. And it was a good thing I didn’t. The garlic shrimp was phenomenal. All these years I thought I had been eating shrimp. Turns out I have never had a proper shrimp in my life. This is not an understatement. If you ever thought that shrimp tasted light and barely like anything, you too have never eaten real shrimp. The shrimp that I had were giant, at least as big as my thumb. They were meaty and succulent and so unbelievably tasty. They were no one-bite tiny things. I had to eat them with a fork. As I was making a huge sopping mess (they came in a mess of garlic butter, underneath a pile of baby spinach) the owner, Rodney himself, came by and started a friendly conversation. He told me that the shrimp were not farmed and that they were fresh from Mobile, Alabama.
Thankfully we were too full of food to order off the dessert menu. All well and good given that Brent had told me they were renowned for their creme brulee, which was not on the menu. Nothing else would do. As we were getting ready to leave Rodney came by again to ask how our meal was. He told us about how all the fish is brought in fresh through his many connections and how none of it is farmed. The restaurant had been opened 26 years ago with the hope of serving fine fresh seafood, opened before either of us was born he joked.
This was definitely by far one of the best eating experiences either of us have had in the city. Rodney’s Oyster House is a true gem in the city and here’s hoping it stays that way. I think we may have started a yearly birthday tradition here. Bring back the creme brulee.
*raw oysters do, which makes me feel like a zombie when I eat them, I have to resist the urge to mutter “braaaaiiiinnnnsss” as I slurp them down awkwardly with brine running down my face