It used to be said that we could only consume raw oysters during the months that end with “r”, so basically from September to December. These days are long gone now and you can now enjoy these tasty treats safely at any time of the year, although from what I understand, it is somewhat more sustainable to actually follow that rule. But what do I know, I’m not an oyster expert, except when it comes to slurping some down. I prefer mine with a squeeze of lemon and a few drops of Tabasco or some fresh horseradish if it’s available. Although some Montreal institutions have been serving them for years, oysters have become a regular fixture on more and more menus lately. Below is a list of some of my favourite Montreal restaurants to enjoy one – or 20 – of the freshest oysters in town. Slurp up!
1. Lucille’s Oyster Drive
Although it may seem like every other restaurant in town now offers oysters, Lucille’s was one of the first to do so a few years ago. They are also oyster wholesalers who distribute quite a few restaurants in town so you can expect their oysters to always be the best.
2. Chez Victoire
I love Chez Victoire’s… everything, actually! The charcuterie platter is one of the best in town, the ambiance is magnifique, chef Alexandre Gosselin’s French-inspired market cuisine is wonderful as is the great wine list put together by sommelière Sindie Goineau. They also happen to have beautiful fresh oyster with housemade condiments. And bonus, oysters are 5 for $7 every day from 5pm to 7pm!
3. Notkins Oyster Bar
One of the most anticipated restaurant openings in town this fall is Notkins Oyster Bar from Daniel Notkin, shucking master and genius founder of Montreal’s beloved Oysterfest. The sleek and massive downtown restaurant offers several kinds of oysters on the bed on a daily basis.
4. Le Bremner
This classic, critically acclaimed Old Montreal restaurant owned by tattooed celebrity chef Chuck Hughes and operated by talented chef Danny Smiles deals over-the-top food and cocktails to a loyal clientele. Their seafood and oyster platters are no exception.
Open for a few months now, Majestique has quickly become a favourite among Montreal’s night owls for a late-night snack or a great dinner. Their oyster selection is fresh and a great way to kick off your meal or end your evening while nursing a glass of wine or a signature cocktail.
6. Le North End
Cocktails, wine and oyster is what Le North End, a newcomer on the oyster scene, specializes in. The Rosemont neighbourhood bar with a nautical-themed design offers do-it-yourself Caesars and three different oyster choices available every night as well as 1$ oysters every Sunday.
7. Joe Beef
I wrote about the lighter side of Joe Beef last year and their seafood platter is definitely one way to experience that light side or to kick off any dinner at the iconic Montreal restaurant. Joe Beef doesn’t do anything half way and that goes for their out-of-this world seafood platter, which includes the most pristine oysters. Joe Beef’s sibling restaurants Liverpool House and Le Vin Papillon are also great oyster spots.
8. Maestro S.V.P.
One of the original oyster restaurants in Montreal, Maestro has been serving the delectable bivalves for the past 25 years. The expert team will “guide you through a true oyster experience” by teaching you the basics while leading you through a show and taste discovery.
9. Oyster Shack
This oyster “shack” is located on Bishop Street in the heart of downtown Montreal and offers an extensive variety of oysters “from the east coast to the west coast” available every night as well as a full menu focused on seafood.
10. Restaurant GUS
GUS is a tiny steakhouse serving what I believe to be some of the best meat in Montreal. Chef David Ferguson’s cuisine is unique and hard to describe: French in essence with dabs of the Southwest in the form of various peppers and homemade hot sauces. Start with the fresh oysters and don’t skip ordering the Caesar salad made à la minute.
One of my favourite restaurants in town for any meal of the day (they open for dinner, weekend brunch and weekday lunch) is also a great place to fill up on oysters while admiring the beautiful crowd that tends to pack up this popular Mile End spot.
Bar Anabel is a charming restaurant located in Outremont with a great classic design reminiscent of an Old World brasserie. Privately imported wine, great cocktails, a market-fresh menu and fresh oysters are all part of the Anabel experience. Oh and oysters are only $1 each every Thursday night!
L’Orignal is a charming Old Montreal restaurant located on a picturesque cobblestone street. It’s been around for a few years now and has been serving some of Montreal’s best oysters since it opened. L’Orignal also specializes in a variety of game meat. Oysters are $12 for a dozen on Thursday nights, along with $6 wine by-the-glass specials.
14. Mimi la nuit
The highly anticipated Old Montreal neighbourhood bar is not open yet but I went to visit and it’s absolutely gorgeous! it will be open every day from 4pm until 2am and it has a nice wine list, inventive cocktails and a creative menu meant to be shared, and of course, great oysters with the usual accoutrements.
15. La boîte aux huîtres
Not essentially a restaurant but rather a stall at the Jean Talon Market, la Boîte aux huîtres provides a large variety of excellent fresh bivalves. It makes for a great snack or lunch while filling up on produce at the market. I always tend to stop by when shopping at the market. They also cater, which makes for excellent – not to mention delicious – dinner conversation.