872 Queen Street West
Brunch for two with all taxes, tip and coffee: $55
Walking along Queen West on a sunny morning heading to Oyster Boy, a car passed us blaring a tune that was predominantly accordion music. We couldn’t really tell if it was a Newfoundland jig or some “welcome to the swamp” zydeco music, but fittingly enough, it set the theme of our brunch visit.
Oyster Boy offers a Maritime Pub Lunch on Saturdays and Sundays with a selection of items that are available all day such as fish and chips ($14.95), fish cakes ($11.95), or chowder of the day ($6.95). They also have lunch-specific specials from noon – 4pm with the likes of little jig’s dinner ($14.95) – aka corned beef and cabbage, and omelettes ($10.50).
We started by sharing a serving of clams steamed in white wine with roasted garlic and tomatoes ($14.95). More typical of steamed mussels, this flavour combination actually worked quite well, despite the lack of seawater and a big stretch of beach. A basket of fresh bread came in handy for sopping up the broth left behind after we had devoured the sweet juicy clams.
The oyster po’boy ($11.95) was a fancified version of New Orleans’ favourite street food, with four fat, crisply fried oysters atop a multi-grain sub bun and topped with lettuce, tomato and a slather of Cajun “mayez”. Paired with a huge portion of Oyster Boy’s rocking fries, this wasn’t exactly reminiscent of the Maritimes, and wasn’t quite as spicy as we would have liked, but was still a truly satisfying sammich.
The seafood benedict ($12.50) also had the pseudo-Cajun touch with sautéed Cajun shrimp on an English muffin and topped with a citrus hollandaise. The shrimp were sweet and plump – in fact they were halved lengthwise to fit on the muffin properly, but were also timid in the spice department. I don’t necessarily expect Cajun grub to make me holler “Aiiieeee!!!” (traditionally it isn’t crazy hot), but the spicing should at least be noticeable. Paired with a huge portion of perfectly roasted but slightly under-seasoned potatoes and a green salad with poppyseed dressing, this was definitely a value for money dish.
A bodum pot of strong dark coffee ($4) rounded out the meal and gave us two full cups each – a very decent price for a mid-range restaurant.
Overall, I’d definitely make a return trip, especially to fulfill my steamed clam cravings. Other than the clams, the dishes we chose certainly didn’t scream “Maritimes” at me, but I’m a huge fan of all things NOLA, so the Cajun grub is just fine. Next time I will ask for a bit more spice in the Cajun dishes though – I prefer to be able to tell my Maritime reels from my Zydeco swamp pop.