It only took me a dozen oysters at Oysterfest in Toronto two years ago to realize what I’d been missing out on for so many years. I hadn’t eaten raw oysters before that special day, and fell in love with the briny beauties instantly. I didn’t know much about oysters or the oyster community in Toronto back then. All I knew was that I needed to find out where the best oysters were, and have some more!
I AM SO GLAD I FOUND OYSTER BOY.
It’s not only their AMAZING oysters that make Oyster Boy my favourite oyster bar. It’s also the atmosphere. I love everything about the place. It’s a small, warm, cozy restaurant by Trinity Bellwoods Park on Queen Street West with wonderful food and terrific people. Everyone is extremely friendly, from the shuckers, to the servers, to the chefs. It’s one of those restaurants that you walk into and can feel the love. You feel their love for oysters, for the restaurant, and for eachother. The restaurant is simply, and very well, decorated. The walls are adorned with all things oyster and the sea. You’ll find a beautiful collection of everything from family photos to seaside memorabilia, art, maps, and oyster shells. They’ve even got pretty little oyster shell light fixtures along the walls. You can tell each of these pieces has got a story behind it, and that’s what makes it more special than anything. Take the time to check it all out. Oyster boy is like a small family that welcomes you into their home. I sometimes joke that it’s my second home (and by joke, I mean I sort of wish it was). Everything’s just so great there that it seems silly to go anywhere else. For a while I didn’t even bother trying other oyster bars. I’ve now tried a handful of places in Toronto, and have to say that Oyster Boy remains my fave.
Oyster Boy has built a strong reputation for being one of the best oyster houses in the city. They are also one the main suppliers of oysters in Toronto, catering to restaurants, events, and private parties. Their oysters are always fresh and you’ll find some of the top shuckers in Canada behind the oyster bar. They’re super friendly, and so knowledgable. There’s lots to learn, so ask away! In fact, they hold really great shucking classes at the restaurant on weekends. I did a class a few months ago and it was loads of fun. You’ll learn more than you’d ever dream about oysters and all the tricks to shucking them the right way. The best part though, of course, is eating your first 16 self-shucked beauties.
My first time shucking at a shucking class. Call to check availability and book a class. Booking a class with a group of friends or colleagues for a birthday or work event is a great idea. 🙂
Our two dozen from my visit last week. These were Plack Pearls (BC), Kumamotos (USA), and St. Simons (NB). Delish. We always ask the shucker which oysters are particularly good that day. If you’re not sure which oysters to order, be sure to ask. The servers and shuckers know their stuff, and they’ll give you great suggestions.
The Black Pearls were really yummy, and they’re gorgeous to look at. The shells were more thin and delicate than most others I’ve seen, and the oysters had frilly black edges. They were a perfect combination of salty and sweet, and almost had a slight watermelon or melon rind flavour to them. We liked these so much that we saved them for last. 🙂
Kumamotos have always been a favourite of mine. Definitely worth a try…and then another try (and another one). They are small oysters that originate from the Kumamoto region of Kyushu, Japan. They were transported to the United States and are now farmed on the west coast. They have deep cupping, fluted shells (like a little oyster bucket…so cute) and a mild, smooth, sweet taste. They are sometimes described as having a buttery flavour. I’ve also heard them be referred to as a “dessert oyster”. I always say they’re like the cheesecake of oysters…maybe that’s taking it a little too far…I love cheesecake.
Oysters are always served with lemon, freshly grated horseradish, and three housemade sauces. The sauces include a cocktail sauce, a ginger and banana pepper hot sauce, and a shallot and red wine vinaigrette. The hot pepper blend is not too hot, it adds the perfect amount of spice, and the red wine vinaigrette is amazing. Their sauces are the best I’ve had.
There are cooked oyster options too, if you’re not into the whole raw seafood thing. They bake oysters a few different ways, or you can order them fried. I’ve tried the Oysters Royale, baked with crab meat and a sherry bechamel. A really nice change from the classic Rockefellers you find at most other restaurants.
There are so many other oyster varieties I’ve eaten at Oyster Boy. Some of the others include Black Point, Beach Angel, Malpeque, Caraquette, Caspumpec, Cavendish Cup, and Colville Bay oysters. Try some from the east coast, and some from the west. Mix it up!
They have my favourite beer on tap. (Another plus.) Pints of Beau’s (and Jameson) have become our Oyster Boy tradition. It’s what I order every time I’m there. Spicy caesars are good too (with fresh horseradish, yum!).
Although oysters are a main attraction for me, I cannot deny that the rest of the menu is equally delicious! Oyster Boy is a seafood lover’s dream come true. I’ve been lucky enough to try a number of different menu items on my many visits. We always order a couple of other things to go with our oysters.
I am a huge chowder fan and the Sustainable Seafood Chowder here is really good. It’s rich and hearty, and the nice, plump clams are the best part. A lot of the time they have a daily soup special as well, so make sure you ask your server. The daily specials are always tres fab!
This is a past soup special: Smoked Whitefish Jalapeno Corn Chowder, with fingerling potatoes and topped with seasoned popcorn. It was similar to the Smoked Jalapeno Corn Chowder with Smoked Oysters they served at Soupstock 2012.
Oyster Boy makes a pretty mean fish taco…and fish tacos rule! The fish is crisp, juicy and has got nice, spicy flavour. The juicy, saucy goodness tends to leak all over your hands and you end up with sauce all over your face, but this is what tacos are about. Ask for some extra napkins and dig in. Enjoy them!
Steamed clams and mussels are both classic seafood favourites, and we order them here time and time again. The mussels are done three ways: classic garlic, white wine, parsley broth, a coconut curry broth, and a smoky tomato chorizo broth. I’ve tried all three. The coconut curry broth can be a nice change if you’re in a curry kind of mood, but you can’t go wrong with the classic. The clams are steamed in the classic garlic, white wine, parsley broth, and usually plump and juicy. (If you ask nicely you could try them in one of the mussel flavours.) Don’t forget to ask for bread to mop up that broth!
They serve whole steamed shellfish, lobster or crab (when it’s available). It’s so much cheaper to steam one of these bad boys at home, but you deserve a treat every now and then! The dungeness crab we had was fresh and perfectly steamed.
The Sturgeon Ceviche is divine. It’s a great starter, served with crispy taro chips.
I love oyster boy’s thin-cut shoestring fries. They are to die for, and a great side to add to your meal. They come with a choice of chipotle, lime jalapeno aioli, or a curry sauce on a half oyster shell. 🙂 They also offer yummy onion rings, the size of your hand!
They’ve got other seafood favourites such as crab cakes and fish and chips (I’ve heard the fish and chips are really great), along with some tasty salads as well. They also serve pasta and non-seafood options. (I’m usually there for seafood.) Always check what the daily specials are because they are always AMAZING! They have some really creative delicious choices!
We always stop by late in the evening, so I’ve never had to wait for a table, although I’ve heard it gets crazy busy during prime meal times. Reserve a table to be safe.
I’ve hopefully inspired you to give this place a try. It’s one of my favourite restaurants and I hope you love it as much as I do.
Happy seafooding! xx