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Island Oysters, once a spontaneous pop-up, has found a permanent home in Bloordale Village.
Island Oysters was founded in 2015 by Jason Kun, who grew up in Charlottetown, PEI and spent many summers foraging the Atlantic waters for wild oysters and mussels with his family. “I’ve been attached to shellfish since I was about seven years old,” says Kun.
After eight years in business as a pop-up (which found much success through DIY take-home oyster shucking kits and platters), Kun wanted to focus on a dine-in model. On Jan. 29, Island Oysters held a soft opening, and is now open for walk-in and takeout.
There are nine different kinds of oysters on the menu, sourced from Canada’s East and West Coast provinces with notes of everything from buttery croissant and lobster bisque, to sweet honeydew melon, cucumber and crab, to a smokier roasted pistachio and avocado or a sharp citrus. For first-timers, the Malpeque (P.E.I) is your classic, briny oyster with notes of buttered popcorn. There’s also a tray-grown oyster, the Marina’s Top Drawer, that has notes of silken tofu, Greek yogurt and honey. “We believe that oysters should be accessible to everyone,” Kun says.
All of the oysters can be ordered as six, 12 or 24-piece orders, or as a curated platter. More adventurous diners can also opt for the DIY unshucked oysters, which range in price from $1.20 to $2.90 each. For hungrier diners, chef Nicholas Taylor, who has cooked for Michelin-star restaurants in France and has worked at Tofino's Wolf In The Fog, has curated a full-service restaurant with fish and shellfish offerings. Some of these include Lake Huron trout, BC sablefish, turbot, mussels and scallops.
Try the oysters on their own, or opt to garnish them with a choice of sauces including two types of mignonette, lemon, fresh grated horseradish root, cocktail sauce, No. 7 Habanero and Tabasco original. Tuesday is Shuck Fifty at Island Oysters— all of the oysters are $1.50
The new space is both minimalist and modern with a nod to all things nautical—a humble handful of pale wood tables topped with tea-light candles and an opposite wooden bench provide a cozy seating arrangement, while an L-shaped bar done in rustic barn wood with a white marble top is the focal point of the restaurant. Behind the bar, two pale wooden shelves with live plants and candles provide the only decor. In total, the front of the eatery encompasses roughly 2,000 square feet. Once renovations are complete in April, an open-concept kitchen will also occupy the front space, while the back will be home to a private events space and raw bar.
Alongside its oyster and seafood offerings, Island Oysters will serve a selection of Canadian and European wines, craft beers, sakes and signature cocktails.
Island Oysters is located at 1165 Bloor St. W and is open Tuesday to Thursday from 4 to 8:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 4 to 9:30 p.m. and on Sundays from 2 to 7:30 p.m.