Volume 95, Issue 90

Friday, March 22, 2002
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Story proves the West Side is the best side

The Oscar crystal ball

Beatlemania hits campus

Naked food easy to swallow

Naked food easy to swallow

The Naked Oyster

110 Dundas St.

Four 1/2 stars (out of five)

By Marcus Maleus
Gazette Staff

Niru Somayajula/Gazette

There's a new restaurant in town that may make you want to clean out your culinary closet and go "naked."

Although the restaurant has only been around since late January, the waitstaff and management of The Naked Oyster appear to have a firm grip on how a successful seafood restaurant should be run.

With a name like The Naked Oyster, you'd think the restaurant's owners would have taken a strictly pragmatic approach to the seafood dining experience, with little or no emphasis on atmosphere.

On the contrary, they manage to find a way to serve fantastic food in a tastefully-decorated and elegant setting.

Upon entering, one will notice the properly dimmed lighting, candles and jazzy dinner music – you'll even hear the Peanuts theme if you're lucky.

The restaurant usually carries around four or five different types of oysters at a time and changes the selection about once a week. Oysters can be ordered individually or by the dozen and have catchy names like "Uncle Willy" and "Martha's Vineyard."

The kitchen is open Monday to Wednesday until 9 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday until 11 p.m.. Want oysters later than that? No problem. There's also a modestly sized bar where patrons can sit, have a few drinks and eat oysters until their hearts content – even after the dining area has closed.

Although they taste great on their own, oysters should be enjoyed with one of the many sauces available. If spicy is what you're after, the ginger or tomato-based relishes are delicious. The vodka with peppercorn and jalapeno sauce packs a real punch.

Considering the complexity of the dishes, the staff is extremely knowledgeable – even about the origins of the oysters.

The Naked Oyster avoids the temptation to slap a couple of mushrooms on the centre of a plate, sprinkle some garnishes on top, charge eight bucks and call it an appetizer. Their starters are not only incredibly delicious, but also fairly large.

Finishing an entire appetizer and a main course at this restaurant would be a challenge for anyone. The Naked Oyster certainly gives you your money's worth.

For a colourful blend of vegetables and seafood, try the escargots with pernod and pink peppercorns. It comes served on a romano crisp with a delicious cream sauce. The seared scallops with red wine sauce and café mushrooms are a great choice for mushroom lovers.

For an entrée that gives a little of everything, the East Coast bouillabaisse with shrimp, salmon, halibut, mussels, scallops and calamari with baby P.E.I. potatoes is delicious. It's served with a creamy side sauce that patrons can mix into the entrée for a creamy kick.

For dessert, try the drunken banana crpe or the goose egg, saffron crme broullet made with dark rum and butter. Both strike a fine balance between sweet taste and beautiful presentation.

To get all of this incredible food, expect to spend a little. Entrées range in price from $13.99 for the curried shrimp linguine with fried plantain and a lime coconut cream to $18.99 for the chef's dry, aged New York strip loin steak with peppered, crimini mushrooms and red skin mashed potatoes. Price is, of course, completely relative to what you get – in this case, fantastic food and a great atmosphere in which to enjoy it.

All in all, The Naked Oyster is a "must try" for avid seafood lovers. Even those who aren't enthusiasts should give it a try – they may very well find themselves as seafood convert.

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