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Oyster Happy Hour at Five Fisherman in Halifax, Nova Scotia

By Rand Hoch, Travel Editor

After more than a week exploring Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia in our rented convertible, Michael and I were happy to wander around Halifax on foot, searching the waterfront and for all things oyster.

When we saw the sign inviting us to indulge in the Oyster Happy Hour at Five Fishermen Restaurant and Grill we immediately knew this was going to be an worthwhile stop.

Five Fishermen’s Oyster Happy Hour, which takes place from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 pm. seven days a week, features $1 oysters. Since the going rate for quality oysters averaged out at a little over $3 per oyster, who could turn down a bargain like this?

We sat up at the restaurant’s ground floor oyster bar and introduced ourselves to oyster shucker and barman Patrick. He and barmaid Celeste were busy selecting, shucking and plating oysters for the ever growing happy hour crowd – but not to busy to help out an oyster blogger.

The day’s featured oysters were from Nova Scotia (Eel Lake and Scotians from Digby, Nova Scotia, and Tatamagouches from the Northerrn Coast) and Prince Edward Island (Sinners in Heaven from Cascumpec Bay and more of the wonderful Raspberry Points).

We decided to start with the Eel Lakes since we had been invited by oysterman Nolan D’Eon of Eel Lake Oyster Farm in Yarmouth to take a boat out on the lake to see the oyster habitat. Unfortunately, we couldn’t squeeze it into our roadtrip.

Patrick paired the Eel Lakes with the Sinners in Heaven. And since we were no longer driving, we had Celeste make us some Grey Goose martinis (doubles!) to accompany the oysters.

Patrick’s shucking technique was excellent, as was his patter about the featured oysters. While was assumed he had been working with oysters for years, he candidly admitted that he was a relative novice to the world of oysters. Fortunately for Patrick, Five Fisherman’s general manager Shane Robilliard had taken him under his wing and has been doing an excellent job teaching him about all things oyster.

Eel Lake oysters, which are also known as Ruisseau oysters, are cultured in the clean cold waters of Eel Lake. The ocean currents add the perfect salinity. Tasting these wonderful oysters, Michael and I regretted we missed the opportunity to spend time with Nolan.

Patrick told us the Sinners in Heaven were the favorite of his patrons for the past few days. At first I though maybe they had just been intrigued by the playful name, but after a taste, I knew it was the oysters’ creamy, full bodied flavor.

While Celeste prepared another round of martinis, Patrick handed over the Raspberry Points and Scotians.

Due to poor planning on my part, we had missed the Raspberry Point Oyster Slurp on Prince Edward Island. We had enjoyed them back home before the road trip, courtesy of American Mussel Harvesters and here and there along the way as we drove across Prince Edward Island. Consistently superb, the salty, meaty Raspberry points were now becoming a familiar delicacy.

The Scotians were next, but by this time, the martinis must have kicked in, as I appear to have lost my tasting notes about them. That having been said, I am sure they were fantastic.

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Shane stopped by to see if we had yet tried the Tatamagouches from northern Nova Scotia. Since we had not, they were next up on our afternoon tasting.

He smiled a bit as he watched Patrick work extra hard to open the Tatamagouches. Once opened, we could see the sandy-colored oysters resting in liquor filled cups. The taste was mildly sweet, with a crisp briny finish.

Shane next asked if we had ever tasted a fat bastard. It was Patrick’s turn to smile this time, as he explained that “Phat Bastards” were very large oysters from New Brunswick that were gaining in popularity. Celeste went off to the kitchen and returned with a pair of Phat Bastards for us to try next.

The Phat Bastards were huge – the largest oysters we had seen on our road trip. Full-bodied with a wonderful aftertaste, they went perfectly with the last round of martinis Celeste passed our way.

Oyster Happy Hour at the Five Fishermen Restaurant and Grill was the perfect ending to our oyster-centric road trip to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. When we return to Halifax – and we will – we will enjoy another Oyster Happy Hour and dine at the restaurant upstairs from the oyster bar. The menu looked amazing.

Thus ends our road trip to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Next summer’s trip in search of all thing’s oyster takes us to where the word for oyster is ostrica – Italy.

Five Fishermen Restaurant and Grill
1740 Argyle Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3J 2W1, Canada
(902) 422-4421

Eel Lake Oyster Farm
P.O. Box 185 Ste. Anne-Du-Ruisseau
Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia
B0W 2X0 Canada
(902) 648-3472

American Mussel Harvesters
165 Tidal Drive
North Kingstown, RI 02852
(401) 294-8999


Thank You to Island Creek Oysters from TJS

Each June the staff of Go Shuck An participates in The Todd J. Schwartz Softball Classic, a fundraiser for the Jimmy Fund. This event honors the life of Todd J. Schwartz (TJS), a vibrant college student and Dana-Farber patient who died of cancer in 2002 at the age of 19. This all-day event incorporates a softball tournament and countless activities for individuals, families and children, as well as a large silent auction and barbecue. For more information see For Todd.

Since 2003, this event has raised more than $250,000 for the Jimmy Fund's Family Festival, an annual event for Jimmy Fund Clinic patients and their families.

This past June, after I got in touch with Erin of Shucked, Island Creek Oysters donated an oyster gift package that included 3 dozen Island Creek oysters, a knife and a t-shirt. Todd Lieberman was the highest bidder during the TJS silent auction, and was the winner of the oyster gift package. Overall, the event raised over $31,000 this year.

On Friday, June 10th, Todd L. picked up his oyster package in Duxbury, MA. He told me things were busy at Island Creek headquarters as they were getting ready for the Island Creek Oyster Festival (held on September 11, 2010) but that didn't stop them from taking time to prepare his oyster gift package.

Go Shuck An and the planning committee for the TJS event thank Island Creek Oysters for the generous gift.

It is also fitting that this post is written today as many family members and friends of Todd J. Schwartz walked 26.2 miles today during the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk to raise money in his name. If you'd like to donate to the team, click here. As of this post, the team has raised $25,881.75.

The Halifax Waterfront

By Travel Editor, Rand Hoch

As usual, Jeremy’s advice was right on point: There is no need for a car when visiting Halifax for two days.

After our two hour drive from Annapolis Royal along Route 101, we checked into The Prince George Hotel, dropped off our bags, and said goodbye to the convertible.

There is a lot to do and see in Halifax, but, being oyster-centric, we were concentrating on the waterfront area along the harbor. Although we had been told several times throughout our road tip that finding oysters in Halifax might be challenging, that did not prove to be the case.

Stopping at the first restaurant we saw on the Halifax Waterfront, we were pleased to learn that Salty’s was serving Beausoleils oysters from New Brunswick. Sitting on the deck at water’s edge, we ordered Grey Goose martinis to accompany the oysters and watched the Sunday boaters enjoying the waterfront.

Having been spoiled by the incredible oysters on Prince Edward Island, we found the Beausoleils to be relatively basic: juicy and firm, with a pronounced brininess. That having been said, we enjoyed two dozen Beausoleils along with our martinis.

Heading out to explore the waterfront, we paused briefly at Cow’s to check out the fun T-shirts – and have some ice cream. (Michael won’t let me post the photo of him by the chain’s ubiquitous life-size plastic cows, so you’ll just have to use your imaginations.) Cow's is widely recognized as one of the world's top places to get ice cream.

After our long drive across Nova Scotia and our snacks, it was time to head back to the hotel for a rest. We checked out the historic buildings – and tourist traps – in the Waterfront District and then headed up the hill towards the hotel.

Along the way, we passed The Press Gang, a restaurant and oyster bar that had been recommended to us by Suzan, our host at The Bailey House in Annapolis Royal. We ducked in to check out the day’s featured oysters on the chalkboard above the bar: Rocky Bays from Prince Edward Island; Black Points from Pictou, Nova Scotia; and Beausoleils from Peacock Cove, New Brunswick. I also learned that elk chops were on the menu. We made our dinner reservations.

Well rested, we returned to The Press Gang for a leisurely dinner. The elk chop was amazing – and surprisingly tender. But then, we were there primarily for the oysters.

Our barman Brian shucked the first dozen oysters, four of each of the featured varieties. He told us a bit about the oysters as we sipped Grey Goose martinis.

Going clockwise in the evening’s oysters are the Rocky Bays, the Black Points and the Beausoleils.

As we expected, Prince Edward Island’s featured oysters were the best. The deep-cupped Rocky Bays were plump and bursting with salty liquor. Nova Scotia’s Black Points were light and only mildly salty. And for some reason, these Beausoleils did not taste as briny as the one’s at Salty’s.

Over our leisurely and exquisite dinner we tried to figure out what to do on the last day of our roadtrip. Earlier that afternoon we overheard travelers at Salty’s talking about the humpback whale they had seen that afternoon, so Michael suggested we go on a whale watching expedition.

The next morning we took the ferry to Dartmouth, where we met up with another couple to spend a few hours in the harbor watching for whales.

And that is what we did: watch.

There wasn’t a whale in sight the entire time. Our captain and guide were very apologetic, but if there are no whales, there are no whales. So, Michael and I took turns shooting photos of the same lighthouse – a lot of photos – and listened to our guides tell us about whales and the history of Halifax.

Slightly disappointed, we took the ferry back to Halifax with a new mission in mind: lobster.

During the road trip, we learned that a lot of the lobsters caught in the Atlantic Provinces are one to one-and-a quarter pounders which are canned for commercial use. Since those are barely legal in my mind, I had ordered only lobster rolls throughout the roadtrip. But today, I wanted steamed lobster and french fries.

Passing Bluenose II one of Halifax’s landmark restaurants, I noticed a sign for a $23.95 lobster dinner. That was all it took. The one-and-a-half pounder was great – and Michael always gets a kick out of seeing me in a bib!

On our way back to the hotel after lunch, we passed a sign reading “Oyster Happy Hour”. As you will soon read, that deserves a posting all of its own.

The Prince George Hotel
1725 Market Street
Nova Scotia B3J 3N9, Canada
(800) 565-1567

1869 Upper Water Street
Nova Scotia B3J 1S9, Canada
(902) 423-6818

The Press Gang
5218 Prince Street
Nova Scotia B3J 3X4, Canada
(902) 423-8816

Bluenose II Restaurant
1824 Hollis Street
Nova Scotia B3J 1W4 (902) 425-5092