This weekend was the soft opening of the new Plumb Oyster Bar in Troy. I’ve been eagerly watching its development in the news, but menu details have been sparse. Mainly I have been wondering if there would be full entrees in addition to the oysters, and what the pricing would be like. So this weekend’s opening was the perfect opportunity to do some important reconnaissance work.
The answer to my first question was yes – there is a short list of entrees in addition to the raw oysters that are the primary offering. The menu mostly includes lighter shellfish plates – things like a seafood ramen, steamed clams, a creamy oyster stew, and a beet and chevre risotto.
But of course my main focus was trying the oysters. Plumb was offering seven varieties on our visit, which ranged in price from $1.65 to $3.35 per oyster and ranged in source location from Washington to New York to British Columbia. You can also order a sampler with twelve oysters and two glasses of prosecco for $38. Although this wasn’t the cheapest option, I was curious to try the full range of offerings and to see if there was really that much difference in quality and taste between the varieties.
It turns out there was quite a difference among the oysters, not only in size but also the level of saltiness in the brine, the texture of the meat, and the overall taste. And of course I wasn’t surprised to find that the most expensive oysters were my favorite. Of the seven varieties, I most preferred the Kusshi oysters from Deep Bay, British Columbia (the smallest ones directly to the right of the lemon wedge) at $3.10 per oyster. They were described as having a “sweet cucumber finish,” and I actually did taste some cucumber notes in the flavor. My second favorite were the light and sweet Kumamoto oysters from Oakland Bay, Washington at $3.35 per oyster, which were the darker shelled ones in the top left corner of the plate. And to help counterbalance my expensive tastes, I actually liked the cheapest oysters as well – the $1.65 Red Head Great South Bay oysters from Long Island (second from the left on the bottom). Although they were less sweet, they had a great plump meatiness to them, and a mid-level of saltiness that just made it seem like a classic, hearty oyster to me.
We also decided to try the shellfish ramen, which included clams, mussels, and oysters along with carrots, bok choy, a poached egg, and bits of pork lardon with a miso base.
I liked how jam-packed the ramen was with ingredients, instead of being 75 percent broth. Although it wasn’t a huge serving, I still felt like there was a good portion of seafood included, all of which tasted very fresh and high quality. I also loved that the egg was poached instead of the usual hard boiled. A bit of runny yolk got mixed into the broth for an extra touch of richness.
Service was not without its kinks, including a very long wait for our oysters, but I’ll give the place a pass for now because it was the opening weekend. Our servers were friendly and accommodating, and the bar had a nice selection of wines and specialty cocktails to pass the time.
I’d be happy to return and sample some more oysters, and I think this place would be especially nice for happy hour after work. A small group would probably be better, as there were only around a half dozen small tables in addition to two bars. The oysters weren’t the best bargain around town, but they were definitely the best I’ve had in the Capital District in terms of quality. I also just like the concept of an oyster bar, which is unique to the region and could really have a chance at succeeding in a place like downtown Troy.