Inside Muddy Waters Oyster Bar
It’s dimly lit inside Muddy Waters Oyster Bar, smooth jazz is playing, and an extensive variety of liquor lines the bar shelves — though that bar comes second to the one in the name. As the city’s only genuine oyster bar, Muddy Waters is bringing oysters on the half shell from all over the country to Pittsburgh in a trendy, quasi-Southern new space. “Oysters used to be ‘poor man’s food,’” co-owner and chef Adam Kucenic explains, noting the subsequent over-sourcing that made the shellfish a luxury. These days, oyster farms are actually some of the most sustainable, since oysters act as natural filters in the waters they populate.
Muddy Waters offers a selection from a variety of such farms, sourcing from all over the country. The East Coast choices include Lucky Limes from Prince Edward Island, Washburn Island oysters from Massachusetts, and James River oysters from Virginia. These are salty and brinier in flavor and smoother in appearance. Hailing from the West Coast are Fat Bastards from Washington and Chef Creek oysters from British Columbia. These can be salty, but have a fruitier flavor, with notes of cucumber and melon. To savor the oyster’s natural flavor, Kucenic and his sous chef, John Leancu, serve them with a simple mignonette, but other fixings are on hand. (I sampled a few with a dollop of horseradish and a squirt of lemon.) More cautious patrons need not be deterred; Chargrilled Oysters with garlic butter or Oysters Rockefeller with creamed collard greens deliver incredible flavor with a meatier consistency, proving that at Muddy Waters, the world really is your oyster.
Muddy Waters Oyster Bar, 130 S. Highland Ave., Shadyside. 412.361.0555. muddywaterspgh.com.