Courtesy of Island Creek
The phenomenal team behind Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury, Massachusetts, and Boston’s Island Creek Oyster Bar is two months into the construction of a new, rustic, seafood restaurant called Row 34. “Island Creek Oyster Bar was inspired by the majesty of Duxbury Bay,” says partner Garrett Harker. “Row 34 is a workingman’s expression of the oyster farm.” The new spot, due to open this fall, will feature exposed brick and simple dishes like garlicky mussels. Its name comes from a row in the oyster farm where founder Skip Bennett first experimented with a new oyster-growing technique. Rather than grow these mollusks on the bottom of the bay, Bennett tried stacking them on suspended racks.
Amazingly, the method now produces oysters with a remarkably different flavor profile from those in the next row over. While both styles have a bright salinity, the Row 34 oysters have an umami-packed nuttiness that differs from the signature Duxbury oysters’ intense, vegetal flavor. Bennett hypothesizes that the change in elevation allows the oysters to eat different plankton, and has already begun building more racks to keep up with customer demand for the new style. Though oyster-grower high jinks sounds like a trend in the making—Bennett wants to test bagged tumble oysters, which develop firmer muscles from rolling with the tide—the team sells their classic Duxbury oysters online and believes that the next big thing is shucking at home.
“It’s a life skill that everyone should have, like opening a bottle of wine, starting a fire or learning how to drive a stick shift,” Bennett says. Here, the Island Creek team’s six tips for the best at-home oyster eating experience.