What do you do when somebody willingly gives your blog or website a total cosmetic makeover for free? Take them out to dinner at a nice restaurant and pay for their drinks, of course! That’s exactly what I did for Nobody at Rodney’s Oyster House. People who know about my eating habits may know that I absolutely love raw oysters, even though I don’t have them that often. I guess this turned out to be a symbiotic, win-win situation for the both of us.
After I finished work one Tuesday evening at around 5:30, I called ahead and asked if the restaurant was full yet. I was told that it wasn’t too bad, although it was advisable to make my way over soon. I arrived before Nobody and requested a table for 2, and despite being told that the wait would be 20 minutes, it actually ended up being 45. About midway through this, we were promised a spot in the Maritime Room that was opening up, although this opportunity apparently faded away quite quickly. I’m not too sure what happened there, but we were eventually seated at the bar.
As you can see from my very blurry picture, the restaurant resembles a very casual seafood joint that one could find in a harbour right by the water’s edge. The decor endowed a bit of novelty into the dining experience. This is apparently a carbon copy of their location in Toronto.
Bread and butter were given to start off with. This could have been much, much better: both items were cold and hard, which wasn’t a good sign. Maybe it’s also a novelty thing, too?
We started off with a Caesar, or Zydeco stew, each ($10.25). Nobody was happy about this, since I was his booze daddy that night. The price was a bit hefty for presumably one ounce of alcohol, but this Caesar was certainly well mixed and prepared. It had a fair blend of Clamato and vodka, with just the right amount of Worcestershire sauce to give it a nice kick. That big, fat shrimp hanging off the edge wasn’t too bad either, although I couldn’t eat it because of my strange allergies.
One of the exciting prospects of sitting at the bar is that you can witness first-hand the shucking and preparation of those tender, raw oysters… Mmm… You can also get a gander at the variety of oysters they have.
When our server asked us which oysters we wanted, we were unable to make a definitive decision. In the end, he decided to fix us up with two of each of the four different kinds. The oysters, served with horseradish and lemon, were the first to arrive. I’m not too sure which is which, but we had the Sawmill Bay ($2.85/each), Mac’s oyster ($2.50/each), Kumamoto ($3.50/each), and Malpeque ($3.50/each). I’m assuming that each oyster was harvested from a different environment, which has a direct effect upon its taste and texture. The oysters here certainly exceeded expectations: they were, for the most part, fresh, juicy and plump. The signature “sea” taste certainly did vary from shuck to shuck.
Our server also gave us a variety of sauces to dress the oysters with. They ranged from different levels and types of spiciness. One dressing that I found quite amusing was the banana pepper vinegar with vodka. I sprinkled some of this on to all the oysters I consumed simply for the novelty, and no, I did not find it to be too spicy or alcoholic. I didn’t get a chance to try all of the dressings, but of course I mostly dabbed on the spiciest one!
We consumed the grand spectacle quite quickly. After that, we decided to move on to cooked foods, such as the mussel steamer ($15.95). The mussels certainly smelled good and had an ample amount of meat inside of them, but something about their aftertaste was quite off. The strange taste taste was extremely prominent despite the inclusion of onions in their preparation, which was a little disappointing.
Afterwards, we wanted more oysters, although we decided to order their pan-fried reincarnation ($15.75). These babies were coated in batter, fried and then served with tartar sauce. Like their raw brethren, the two of us greatly enjoyed this dish. The oysters were prepared well, with the sauce acting to compliment this fried delight. Once you got past the batter, their true taste permeated through very well. I would certainly recommend this item.
And of course, we rounded off the night with some pints of Lager ($6.75).
All in all, I enjoyed my dinner at Rodney’s. Any meal with a good Caesar, a couple pints of beer and raw oysters can’t possibly go wrong, right? The service was also friendly and attentive yet still prompt, although they can be a bit difficult to flag down if the restaurant’s busy and packed. I would certainly go back (after making a reservation first!) for more of their oysters and/or their other aquatic fare. They do have specials everyday, which would likely be worth checking out. In the end, who can guess how much I ended up paying here?
Conclusion: Andy ate a lot.
Rodney’s Oyster House
1228 Hamilton St.