The Oysters Rockefeller at the Oyster Shack in downtown Montreal were Malpeque Oysters baked with Spinach and Parley under a topping of cheese.
I have previously featured a review of the Oysters Rockefeller at MacKelvie’s in Halifax, in which I outlined the basic form of the classic dish, and then went on to describe how MacKelvie’s departed from the traditional rendering. The Oyster Shack version, as it happened, somewhat duplicated those departures, but, though it was also not very close to a true ‘Rockefeller’, it was a far superior dish.
I attended the Oyster Shack with the primary intent of enjoying fresh, raw Oysters on the half-shell and, indeed, I managed to sample six each of three different types before moving on to try the Oysters Rockefeller.
The half-dozen Oysters you see above were Pearl Cocktails from Prince Edward Island, and harvested not far from the Malpeque variety used for the Oysters Rockefeller. I also tried another PEI variety from Gooseberry Point, which, like the Pearl Cocktail’s were decent enough but not especially remarkable.
The third sort I tried were Wianno’s from Massachusetts, which I had not had before. These turned out to be very good, and had some lovely honeydew melon highlights, and an unusual but very pleasant underlying taste that was reminiscent of the aroma of fresh-cut hay.
As for the Oysters Rockefeller, these relied on Spinach rather than a combination of herbs as used in the traditional form, but there did seem to a be a little bit if Parsley included. MacKelvie’s added a sprinkling of dried Parsley flakes, which added a bit of visual appeal but no taste, while the Oyster Shack used fresh Parsley in sufficient quantity that it added a nice touch of flavor to round out the Spinach.
There was no Pernod or Herbsaint included, which some recipes call for, and, as at MacKelvie’s, the topping here was cheese rather than the traditional breadcrumbs. I am not exactly sure what cheese was used, in this case, but it had the texture of Mozarella, and a little of the sharpness of a white Cheddar at the same time. Possibly it was a blend of the two but, whatever it was, it worked very nicely and, in my opinion, a better choice than breadcrumbs.
What I really like best about the Oysters Rockefeller at the Oyster Shack was that everything was baked just long enough to melt the cheese and heat through the Spinach. This left the Oyster with the same delicate plumpness as the raw article, and leaving a lot of lovely, briny liquor. The effect was very much like Oysters on the half-shell, but hot, and with a little extra flavor punch. I rated these as excellent.