Blame it on living off of East Coast oysters for much of my life, but I was never a big fan of those from the Gulf Coast. They lacked saline. They felt like a boring, bland chore more than a relaxing and sumptuous experience.
Okay, I was wrong. Sorry.
At least, I was wrong after enjoying half a dozen oysters at Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster House. The new San Leon restaurant, smack on the water and part of a major development that includes a dock under construction and bungalows for tourists, is owned by Raz Halili of family fishery Prestige Oysters. That means Prestige gets bivalves somewhere nearby and hands them off to executive chef Joe Cervantez, formerly of Brennan’s of Houston.
The oysters are fresh, caught earlier that day or the day before. My server wasn’t sure when my six were captured, but they came from San Antonio Bay, which is near Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, about 40 miles southeast of Victoria. As in, they are Texas oysters and nearly as local as they get.
Pier 6 is spacious with tall windows—the kind of place you’d prefer for slurping oysters and a martini or two. There’s patio seating with some of those rattan swings, in case you really wanted to soak in sun.
Or you could grab a spot up at the bar and watch servers rush past. The place is busy; if Pier 6 is your first restaurant experience in a year, you’ll feel exhilarated by the activity.
I’ll also tell you that there’s a good crab cake here. No, a great crab cake that is short on binding stuff and heavy on the crab. A little swipe of Old Bay tartar sauce brings it together, though you don’t need it. While I’ve yet to sample much of the menu (I’m most interested in the snapper, of course, plus the pan-roasted chicken and the seafood fondue), I’m thinking that this place shines when everything is simplified. Keep it close to the water. Nothing too crazy. Big flavors will prevail.
I mean, heck, we’re talking about the best Gulf oysters I’ve ever had. If they can turn this East Coast snob into a convert, just imagine the wonders they’ll do on you.