Raw Bar Takeover at Porto

Last night, Mediterranean restaurant Porto ceded control of its raw bar to Island Creek Oysters, the Duxbury farm that grows some the world’s finest oysters and supplies them to so many establishments here in New England.

Helming the raw bar was Island Creek’s affable “oyster dude,” CJ Husk. With his long hair, beard, and backwards baseball cap, the man truly embodies his title. Plus, is there a better name than CJ Husk for a guy who shucks oysters?

As it turns out, there’s quite a bit of nuance to shucking, as I learned from my up-close vantage point. CJ kindly demonstrated his technique time and again, while I set about devouring a platter of the farm’s delicious oyster varieties – Island Creeks, Row 34s, and Aunt Dotty’s. (I shared them. Reluctantly.)

In addition to the oysters, one of the evening’s specials was raw fluke, served with with blood orange, Calabrian chili, and pistachio.

And of Course…Cocktails

This was my first visit to Porto, which opened in the Back Bay this past July. So even though the spotlight was on oysters, I had a chance to get familiar with the cocktail offerings.

Frank & Brendon’s Fall Get-Away is a colorful tiki-style drink made with Mount Gay Eclipse rum, coconut, pineapple, and tiki spice.

The elegantly presented La Parfumeur features a black-pepper-infused mezcal with Cocchi Americano, Cynar 70, lavender, and lemon.

And beverage director Neil Quigley stopped by with a personal delivery – the Greek Negroni, made with a Greek liqueur called Skinos, dry vermouth, and Salers, a French aperitif. Porto’s take on a white Negroni, it was refreshing, bitter, and a good complement to the oysters and fluke.

The drink also paired surprisingly well with dessert – a pear sorbet served with olive oil shortbread. A graceful conclusion to the evening.

Look for a more comprehensive piece about Porto in this space in the coming months.

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