Oysters are a controversial bivalve. An acquired taste, if you will. Chances are you either love them or hate them. Oysters – much like sea urchin or anchovies or certain types of blue cheese – are not a food which lends itself to neutral opinion.
Oysters are also on the Seafood Watch “best choice” as an environmentally friendly seafood that is abundant and caught or farmed in environmentally friendly ways.
For that traditional seaside summer (or Manhattan business lunch), you’ve likely encountered many an ice-covered platter ringed with these plump mollusks – complete with a halved lemon, dishes of seasoned vinegars, or a red-hot sauce.
On this front, The Oyster Society does not disappoint. It offers a healthy list of East Coast and West Coast offerings. Your standard Blue Points and Kumamotos make the list (as to be expected), as do a number of less common varietals. Blue Points are local to the oyster growing regions of New York and Connecticut and they are known for their sweet, briny with a sparkling aftertaste.
Kumamotos are small deeply cupped oysters named after a bay on the Island of Kyushi, though they are now grown on the West Coast. These tiny oysters have a salty/sweet flavor ideal for beginner oyster eaters.
But If you’re feeling extravagant, spring for the Oceanic Platter – a tower of power consisting of a dozen clams, a dozen oysters, a pound and a half of steamed lobster, six Key West shrimp, a quarter-pound of king crab, and Florida snapper ceviche.
What if you are not an oyster person? Or even a seafood person? Can you still find pearls of enjoyment on the menu?
First, start with the cocktails. The cocktail menu is (and has always been) one of Marco Island’s freshest and most inventive. On a balmy South Florida evening, the Bloody Orange Margarita is a welcome refresher.
As for entrees, don’t sleep on the meats. While Oyster Society is synonymous with seafood, the 6-ounce Filet Mignon is a welcome study in simplicity.
As the name suggests, Oyster Society’s strengths lie under the sea. For lobster lovers, the Lobster Thermidor is a MUST. The mashed potatoes steal the show, as they often do. There is a sushi bar, but you’re best served picking one of the many specialty rolls which is a meal in itself.
The place was packed by 7 PM on a rainy Saturday in June, so please make reservations through OpenTable.com (or on the OpenTable app) to secure a seat. The ambience is jazz-age glam. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway quotes adorn the walls, but no need to dress like you’re Gatsby. This is Marco, not Miami, so bring your appetite and leave the heels at home.
The Oyster Society is located at Marco Walk at 599 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island. Visit theoystersociety.com for more information.