Last year when one of my very good friends got engaged, he and his bride decided on Mystic, CT as their wedding location. To celebrate, a group of us planned a day trip to Mystic to explore the town with them. During that trip we had lunch at the Oyster Club, right on Water Street in the center of town. On that particular day everyone was starving so I decided to spare them my blogging / photography ritual, but that also meant I knew I had to go back so I could share this amazing place with you.
This past weekend I traveled back to Mystic for this couple's wedding (how time flies!) and my very first stop when I arrived in town was the Oyster Club.
I'm obsessed with their bright orange front door.
Inside there is a small waiting area near the hostess stand that is so perfectly nautical.
We were seated in the main dining room. The wood paneled walls remind me of the inside of a ship.
Each table is decorated with freshly picked wildflowers. Below is the beauty that was adorning our table.
My travel buddy and I had both already looked at the sample menu online, but the Oyster Club changes their menu every single day based on what is fresh and what gets delivered to them by their farm partners. At the bottom of each day's menu there is a section that says "special thanks to today's farmers and artisans" which lists each of the local businesses.
After careful consideration, we each decided to order one thing to start and then a second dish for our main course. My lunch date began the meal with a green salad topped with walnuts, blueberries, feta cheese and a toasted poppy seed dressing.
After a few bites I asked for her opinion on the dish. She replied, "This is really delicious because it has such a great mix of flavors. It has the right amount of dressing so that every piece of the salad is coated. The toasted poppy seed dressing is a little sweet, but the tartness from the blueberries provides a nice balance. There are a ton of goodies (not just lettuce)."
I started the meal with the charred carrot and wax pepper soup, garnished with smoky guallijo hot sauce, queso fresco and fresh cilantro. When the waitress placed the bowl in front of me I could smell the smokiness.
This soup had the most phenomenal, fiery flavor. The smoky hot sauce really added a boldness to the dish. In spoonfuls with the queso fresco there was an added creaminess and in bites with the cilantro it tasted extra farm fresh. I really couldn't get enough of this soup. My only complaint is that they didn't provide a piece of nice, crusty bread to soak up every last drop!
For her second course, my friend decided on the quahog chowder. The Oyster Club offers their chowder in either New England style or Rhode Island style. She went with the classic New England style and the chowder was packed with clams, bacon, celery, potatoes and then finished with fresh parsley and cracked pepper.
When I asked how she was enjoying the chowder she said, "When it first arrived I thought the broth looked a bit too thin, but as I took those first few bites I discovered that it so flavorful that it didn't matter. There was a generous amount of clams and bacon, both of which were really delicious. That being said, there was way too much potato. I left over half in the bowl! I also wish they had provided crackers with the chowder. I always look forward to the crackers."
For my entree I selected the roasted summer vegetables with wood fire grilled scallion polenta. The menu description said it would come topped with radishes and walnut pesto, but it had neither. I did overhear that I got the last order of this for the day, so perhaps they gave me whatever was left.
The veggies in the dish were tomatoes, onions, green peppers and yellow squash. They were all roasted to perfection. They practically melted in your mouth. I loved the scallion polenta, I just wish there had been more of it. For a dish listed under the "mains" section, this felt very small.
While we waited for our check we both remarked how our waitress didn't come by once to ask how we were enjoying either course or if we needed anything. For such a beautiful restaurant with such delicious food, it was surprising that the service was subpar.
Before heading out I walked across the restaurant to check out the area that used to be their outdoor patio. I confirmed with the hostess, "Did this area used to be your deck?" She answered, "It was. Great memory. In April we decided to close it in. In New England we just get so much more use of the space if we can enjoy it all year round."
For those who had been to the Oyster Club patio, doesn't the renovation look great?
Outside the Oyster Club there is also plenty of space to hang out and people watch. They have a charming row of Adirondack chairs right out front.
They also have an upper deck called the Treehouse. It's exactly as it sounds - a deck nestled amongst the trees.
The day we went the Treehouse was closed due to rain, but I plan to go back and dine up there!
The day we drove to Mystic it had been raining all morning. It rained all through our lunch at the Oyster Club, but when we walked out of the restaurant the clouds began to move and make way for the sun. We took that as our cue to keep indulging and drove to one of my favorite places, Saltwater Farm Vineyard. We were able to sit on a picnic table and enjoy a glass of rosé with sweeping views of the grape vines.
If you're planning a trip to Mystic, CT, I highly recommend the Oyster Club. The food is fresh as can be, celebrates local farmers and has plenty of room for big groups. If you're traveling with kids, definitely plan on a meal in the Treehouse.