After three weeks in Asia where the oysters weren’t a menu offering, I was thrilled to land in Australia where Christmas would be warm, the cocktails were cold, and the cricket set was waiting. Warwick’s family lives in Sydney so we finally snuck in an Aussie Christmas after so many years in the States.
I couldn’t wait to grip my hands around some of Oz’s finest rocks, but it had to be the right place. Australia’s culture for pre-shucking them, draining the liquor, and wrapping them in plastic is a tough pill to swallow. Many parts of the US emphasize a made-to-order shuck and preserving the liquor as a “bill of rights” for oyster lovers. In every seafood shop and grocery store, it was hard to see opened oysters that had been sitting out for hours, often situated vertically with dried rubber-like skins.
Before the Aussies jump me – I understand this is completely cultural and I respect how you like to eat oysters. However, I think the perception of what an oyster experience could be – a greater emphasis on freshness and flavor – is changing all over the world, which I feel is exciting.
This brings me to the Morrison Bar and Oyster Room, who place a significant value on the shuck. I am no true critic – I only write about the places, people and farmers I love – and I will tell you, this place was a damn joy.
The Morrison feels like an old Brasserie with a modern industrial vibe. It’s high ceilings and acute attention to design make it almost “too cool” for the commercial district in which it resides. Those Ernst & Young patrons probably pack this place out with business meetings on any given Tuesday, and they should be grateful to have it!
May I also mention my adoration for calling it an “Oyster Room”? Common names are Oyster Bar, Shack, Station, Saloon… But a “Room” – it came with the respect of a proper “Tasting Room”, which is a detail likely gone unnoticed by most and perhaps even normal for Australia, but the name carried a reverence I appreciated. There was another line I found and treasured on their website under their Oyster Library section: “… from farm to table these ‘lil pearlers are the oceans gift and for avid seafood lovers there is nothing better than slurping back a fresh oyster and its liquor…” YES. YES!
We devoured other delights from the sea like the mussels and ceviche which were heavenly, but my eyes widened when the oysters arrived. They were so creamy and punchy. It was a pristine shuck – a badge of honor signifying there’s an oyster extraordinaire behind the raw bar. We chose all three oysters on the menu: Cape Hawks and Pembulas from New South Wales, and Little Douglas oysters from South Australia. I admired the deep rich colors and grooves of the shells. They were all wonderfully unique, petite and precious with green, white, and rose hues. Each oyster had a fat white belly and burst with flavor upon the first bite.
Bubbles after bubbles, we rolled out of the place on our bivalve highs and carried on to the next. I won’t forget this place. To The Morrison – thank you for our beloved shuck!
You can follow them on Instagram at @themorrisonsydney