Lucille's Oyster Dive offers a perfect storm of maritime delights
Lucille’s Oyster Dive, a seafood joint and raw bar on NDG’s Monkland Ave., serves what could be the perfect hangover cure. Or would be, were it not already the culprit behind the hurt. What a devilishly delicious drink – or is it a dish? It’s a Seafood Bloody Caesar and we bloody loved it.
The "Caesar" part of the concoction – Clamato and vodka – is fairly standard; it’s the "seafood" part that excites. A succulent snow crab leg and luscious jumbo shrimp flank the celery stalk. A celery salt rim gets a boost from lemon pepper. The crowning glory is surely the cool, plump, salty-sweet oyster on the half shell, balanced atop the glass.
The owners ought to know raw. They operate Marché 27, the tartare bar on Prince Arthur (in addition to Greasy Spoon on Laurier). A daily selection of bivalves represents both coasts. Top Drawer oysters on our Caesars hailed from B.C. Normally a staunch devotee of the briny brashness of east coast oysters, I fell for these buttery, buxom bivalves. Clean, lush and not at all flabby, we ordered extras on the side.
Seafood is the reason to frequent this dive (a dive that pours craft beers, mind). Sure, there are turf options: steak frites, braised ribs. But with a stuffed swordfish surveying the scene and maritime memorabilia lining the walls, it’s clear where the devotion lies.
An app of seared tuna carpaccio was a throwback to the late ’90s. Crusted with poppy seeds, drizzled with sesame oil and sprinkled with tobiko on a bed of arugula and shaved fennel, the flavour and texture combinations stood the test of time. A cup of clam chowder was properly brothy, not gloppy, and offered equal amounts of clam, slab bacon, potato and corn.
An insanely generous portion of fish and chips, dunked in a bitter beer batter and served with homemade tartar sauce and minted pea mash, was a decently executed classic. The lobster roll boasted lots of meat in a light mayo and chive dressing (eggy bun courtesy of Première Moisson). The filling was in dire need of a good spritz from the lemon wedge, and I might have preferred a toasted, split-top hot dog bun, New England-style. But given the ample amount of lobster meat (not to mention fries), the price seemed right. Had we not already swallowed an ocean of nosh, we surely would have made room for warm sticky buns with vanilla ice cream.
Lucille’s puts on a good show as the upscale clam shack. It’s rugged, yet refined. It’s George Clooney in The Perfect Storm. So don your (fashionably) ripped jeans and your best hipster T-shirt, order an Okanagan Springs brew and discuss the finer distinctions of oysters from neighbouring bays.
Lucille’s Oyster Dive
5626 Monkland; (514) 482-1471
Dinner for two, before tax, tip and beverage: $50-$90