Last Friday the GF and I tried Lucille’s Oyster Dive. I had read mixed reviews about this place so was curious to see what the deal was. I’m happy to report that I was very satisfied. This is one of those reviews where I have a lot to say, so I’ll do my best to keep it concise.
As soon as we walked in I was impressed by the look and feel of the place. Cozy and somewhat rustic, with lots of wood and alcohol on display. Works for me. We took our seats at the bar and started with the Seafood Caesar. It’s a Caesar garnished with a snow crab leg, a shrimp, an oyster on the half shell, celery and an olive. Bloody Caesars are one of my favourite cocktails. I make them all the time at home, so I’ve got pretty high standards. This one was solid. The seasoning around the rim was a high note; instead of celery salt, it was a house mix of Jamaican jerk seasoning blended with steak spice, nice! As for the seafood, the crab leg was as sweet as you’d hope for and the oyster was a nice touch. The shrimp was basic. At $15 it’s not a cheap cocktail, but when you consider what it’s garnished with this drink could basically serve as a cocktail and appetizer in one, so it’s worth it in my book.
Next we had 6 oysters and the salmon tartare. The oysters come in a metal dish and are accompanied by lemon, tabasco, horse radish, mignonette and a spicy jalapeno relish type thing. Lucille’s has about a dozen varieties of oysters, we got to sample 3. Oysters are oysters, so in a restaurant what I’m really looking for is freshness and a good clean shuck. These ones delivered and the oysters went down nicely. The salmon tartare was fresh and nicely flavoured. The caviar in particular was a nice touch. Nothing too complicated, the quality of the salmon spoke for itself and was delicious with the homemade chip. Overall, a nice appetizer.
Next came a large bowl of steamed clams in garlic cream sauce. The dish comes with two lightly grilled pieces of bread which were perfect for sopping up the sauce. The clams were a good size, nice and plump. The garlic cream sauce was as advertised – creamy, garlicky and full of flavour. By this point I had moved on to a pint of Lucille’s blonde beer (quite good) which paired perfectly with this savoury dish. I should say that I did find the sauce to be a bit salty, but it didn’t ruin it for me since I’m a bit of a salt freak anyway. My girlfriend didn’t have any such complaints and we practically licked the bowl clean, so it’s safe to say that we both liked this one.
For our last course we split an order of lobster rolls with sweet potato fries (a $3 upgrade from the regular fries). The lobster rolls were good. Nice chunks of lobster in toasted hot dog rolls and not too much mayo. The fries were served with a home made chipotle mayo which was really good. We finished every drop. A good dish, for sure, but at $27, or $30 if you go with sweet potato fries, I can see how some might question the value on this one. It could probably be a few bucks cheaper, but I was having way too good of a time to be bothered.
We wrapped things up with a slice of key lime pie (which I’m told is made by one of the owners’ mother-in-law). I was stuffed and wasn’t really in a dessert mood but this pie was actually quite good. Light and mousse like with a crumbly and crunchy crust. We made quick work of it.
Thoroughly pleased with our meal and already thinking about the next visit, I noticed three cuts of meat (filet mignon, new york strip and rib eye) prominently displayed on the menu written on the wall and asked our waitress how the steaks were. I was expecting a basic “they’re good” response. Instead I was told, in the most charming way possible, that most people think Lucille’s is only about seafood but they actually make a serious steak, using only private import AAA Black Angus 1855 brand beef from Colorado. Whaaaaaat??! Excuse me. I was sold and will absolutely be back to put that beef to the test.
Our experience eating at the bar on Friday night at Lucille’s was fantastic. Very good food, great vibe and one of the best waitresses I have been served by in a while. I understand that restaurant reviewing is a subjective business, but after a night like this one I really don’t get the negative reviews. Some truths – yes, this is not your typical restaurant; it’s much more of a bar that serves good food. It’s loud, “hip” and a bit hectic. I could see this place on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. So if you’re stuffy you probably won’t like it. And yes, it’s not cheap. But do you really think you’re going to eat oysters, crab, clams, tartare and lobster on the cheap? And if you could, would you want to? Lucille’s Oyster Dive is a great spot. Can’t wait for my next visit.
Price: $150 plus tip (menu with exact prices available online).
Rating: 3 – It’s good, man.
Lucille’s Oyster Dive – 5626 Monkland Avenue – 514.482.1471