L’Huitrade, Paris.

June 2015.

The great Guy Savoy has in our opinion overstepped a bit with this tiny oyster specialty bar. It’s across the street from what appears to be the original location of his restaurant in the 17th, now I think moved elsewhere but still serving the public there.

It’s a tiny space with maybe 16 seats, beautifully decorated as you would expect. We were the only people there at 8 p.m. on a Wednesday, greeted by a very pretty slightly aggressive girl who described the strangely limited menu. Savoy apparently has relationships with a variety of oyster farmers around France, and here you can have any eight or any combination of eight of a variety of oysters served plain on the shell. There’s fish soup, oysters on toast, and a few other items and a very limited white wine list.

The chopped oyster on toast for me was pretty much chopped oyster on toast, with some herbs, and I guess I’m not impressed with the current vogue for bread and toast to be hard and brown. It seems the motivation to rescue humanity from diet-related illness is still alive and doing fine in the former world capital of great eating, but in some places (not here I don’t think) it’s just a shameful retreat from wonderful traditional baguette to bread made with packaged dough. Fat may be the one merciful exception to the prevalent dietary fadism: here there was some delicious herb butter.

We had another item consisting of three special oysters, one of which was the “famous” one based on an oyster-juice custard on the half shell with the mollusc. These were cold oysters done three different ways and although one of them (chopped oyster on the half shell with some tomato and herbs) tasted lovely, the effect was fundamentally an anticlimax.

The all-kinds-of-different 8 oysters were all interesting, some large, some small, some crunchy, some more salty. But there certainly wasn’t any mignonette or other traditional accompaniment and I kept wondering if the perfectly-shucked oysters had been boiled a little bit or otherwise messed with. They were for me suspiciously a little firmer than the slippery tender ocean-flavoured mouthfuls I’m used to.

€117 which is about C$157 for what amounts to a snack, a bottle plus one glass of pretty ordinary Sancerre, and a nicely-packaged dose of Paris culinary snobbery.

I don’t think this place will survive. Food 6.6, service 8.4 (she was lovely), ambience 8.0, value 3.8.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 30 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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