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.
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
Eel Lake Oyster Farm
P.O. Box 185 Ste. Anne-Du-Ruisseau
Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia
B0W 2X0 Canada
American Mussel Harvesters
165 Tidal Drive
North Kingstown, RI 02852