I have only once visited at EaT: An Oyster Bar on N Williams (once they open their location in the Pearl I’ll have easier access for more visits)- I wanted a little snack before a HipCooks class. I don’t have oysters often, but mainly that is because although I really enjoy them, they usually are not a good value for your money in terms of amount of food you get. Ironically, I think historically because oysters used to be more plentiful and are a relatively less effort type of animal to get since they are basically just gathered from sea beds, oysters used to be much more affordable and normally eaten by anyone living by the sea. But demand and disease has changed that now. Every time I have them I feel like I’m treating myself, be they raw, fried, or baked.
I know there are people who say they don’t like oysters, but I would definitely recommend you try them more than once because I basically think you are wrong. Perhaps you want to start with the cooked kind first instead of raw, and I like both- just like fish. I often compare it to a bit like sashimi and sushi- at first you may think you are repulsed by the idea of eating raw oysters for instance (obviously not the case with fried or baked), but that really isn’t much different then eating raw fish. They have a mild taste of the ocean (but not too much- not if they are fresh). Per the Seafood Watch list which rates various seafood in terms of ocean-friendly food, oysters (depending on type) are rated pretty high. Even if you don’t like sashimi, you may still like sushi be it perhaps certain kinds of rolls or ingredients or sauces… and also, even if you don’t like raw oysters, you will probably like them cooked.
On the day I visited EaT I tried them baked, though I definitely want to go back and try them raw. They had what seemed like would be an interesting flight of oyster shooters with the variance between them being chili-infused vodka vs chili-infused rum vs chili-infused bourbon. They also had one with beer.
Baked is a nice in-between texture step from the more wet silky but firm with juice texture of having them raw and the chewiness of the fried (not counting the crispness of the batter of course) in terms of texture. With baked, I still can enjoy slurping them from the shell and getting a touch of brine, but I keep them in my mouth for more chews to enjoy the flavor then when they are raw and slippery. Baked oysters tend to also be more rich and savory, while raw ones are zesty in the overall flavors in your mouthful- similar to how a pasta can be highlighted either by a cream sauce or a tomato based or light olive oil based sauce. They are all great, depending on what you want to taste at that moment.
The three preparations of baked oysters I got were two regular and one seasonal special. In the front is the special, which is 2 oysters with arugula and manchego cheese. I don’t think arugula was a good choice as it was a bit too bitter, maybe a more peppery mixed green would have been better. This was my least favorite of the three.
Behind to the right is the Rockefeller with spinach and watercress puree but with a touch of Absinthe before topping with Parmesan.
My favorite are the oysters to the left, the Bienville with mushroom bechamal with sharp cheddar. It had the freshness of the oyster with a bit of salty brine balanced with the richness of the mushroom but a bit of edge from the cheddar- really wonderful, one of the best baked oyster flavor profiles I can remember.
I also had a Hurricane, which really knocked me for a bit- equals a good Hurricane. Theirs is rum mixed with their own house fruit juices topped with pomegranate vodka. It was a perfect way to kill a little time – milking my Hurricane, trying not to eat my oysters too fast as I watched the evening commute on N Williams, a long busy parade of so many cars and bicycles. They have other Cajun offerings, but if you come here, you must have oysters anyway. I mean, it’s right in their name, how could you not?
I’m glad I didn’t give up when the first time I had oysters I just chewed and chewed and spit it out in the end- don’t let one bad experience taint you because oysters are awesome. Just to show another kind of cooked oysters, here is a photo of my favorite food memory of fried oyster, from Firefly at Dupont Circle in Washington DC- they came with a chipotle tarter sauce but I couldn’t dip them because these were perfect on their own- better or equal to fried chicken, definitely better then calamari.
I still remember this years later and how happy I was, even though my teeth were aching from wearing braces at the time and having them tightened that I was forced to take little itty bitty bird bites even of my crisp fries. But this meal made that a wonderful lunch and memory. I haven’t yet found a better fried oyster yet, but I’ll keep looking.