I was looking for a place to get my fill of raw oysters but without breaking the bank. Through twitter I had learnt about Oyster – Seafood & Raw Bar. They have Oyster Happy Hour daily – ‘Buck a Shuck‘ from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. I had read some great reviews about this place and decided to check it out when I was visiting Vancouver back in November. Oyster – Seafood & Raw Bar is literally located in the heart of the Old Stock Exchange Building. It’s actually quite a stylish little place with only about 20 seats. Considering how small the space is, the place is actually quite tastefully decorated and has a contemporary feel to it.
I decided to go on a Saturday afternoon. Because I’d never been before, I wasn’t sure what to expect and decided that it was best to go right when they open as I didn’t know how busy they would be. From my previous experience at Elliott’s Oyster Bar in Seattle where there were significant line ups and wait times for their Oyster Happy Hour, I expected Oyster – Seafood & Raw Bar to be really popular and busy, especially on a Saturday afternoon. I arrived shortly after 3pm as I had seen the tweets earlier that week about the Happy Hour running from 3pm to 7pm. To my surprise, the place wasn’t even open yet. I talked to the staff who was there prepping behind the bar and she told me they weren’t open till 4pm. So my friend C and I went to the Starbucks around the corner to relax and kill some time.
At around 3:45, I had seen a new tweet about Oyster Seafood & Raw Bar being open for Happy Hour so we packed up and headed there. When we arrived, the staff was surprised to see us as apparently, she still wasn’t ready to open yet. I showed her the tweet and asked why they tweeted about being open for Oyster Happy Hour when they weren’t ready yet. She informed me that apparently the person who’s doing the tweeting isn’t actually on site and doesn’t really know what’s actually happening at Oyster. As a customer, that was a bit of a confusing experience for me as the information they were disseminating via social media was rather inaccurate. Nonetheless, she seated us anyways.
After chatting with her, I learned that there were actually only two staff running the place that afternoon. The chef in the kitchen is responsible for all the hot dishes while our hostess also played the role of server, bartender, and oyster shucker. Since we were early and the only ones there, our order came fairly quickly. But I could imagine that if the place got busy, it probably would take her a while to get all the drinks made and served and all the orders of oysters shucked.
The oyster that was featured that day for the Buck a Shuck was the Chef’s Creek. We started off with two dozen of them between the two of us. The Chef’s Creek was briny with a sweet finish and paired nicely with the sauvignon blanc that I had ordered. From chatting with our server/oyster shucker, I learnt that they typically feature Chef’s Creek or sometimes Effingham for their Buck a Shuck.
The oysters were served with fresh lemon, grated fresh horseradish, and a tray of condiments. In addition to the usual Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces, there were three house-made sauces – a ponzu sauce, a chili mignonette, and a house-made cocktail sauce with horseradish. Of the three house-made sauces, my favourite was the chili mignonette as I liked how the acidity from the mignonette balances the creaminess of the oysters..
The oysters were very fresh and delicious. After we downed the two dozen, we still had an appetite for more. Hence, we ordered another dozen and a half for the two of us. In the end, between my friend C and myself, we polished off three and a half dozen oysters.
Despite the rocky start, we ended up having a good time at Oyster – Seafood & Raw Bar. I was actually quite surprised at how quiet it was as we were the only customers the whole time we were there. Perhaps, it is more popular on weekdays with the after work crowd. But I know I definitely would return again for their Buck a Shuck next time I’m visiting Vancouver. If you do on plan on going for the Buck a Shuck, my advice would be to go after 4pm to be on the safe side and disregard the tweets. Up until two weeks ago, their tweets were still stating that the Buck a Shuck is from 3pm to 7pm. I just noticed their tweet yesterday now correctly lists the Buck a Shuck hours as 4pm to 7pm Monday to Saturday. Hopefully, there will be no more confusion in that regard.