Delicate Bites: Must-Eat Oysters at Maison Premiere

A decadent plate of oysters served from Maison Premiere in Brooklyn

If you're one of those folks who follow that hoary adage about not eating oysters in a month with an "R", well… first, let me just say thanks for leaving more room for me at the city's best shellfish restaurants and, second, it must feel Christmas and Mardi Gras and New Year's Eve all rolled into one these early September weeks as you careen around town on an oyster free-for-all. Ok, that's probably exaggerated (you do know, though, that the "avoiding oysters in spring and summer" thing is completely unnecessary these days, right? especially with commercially harvested bivalves?), but if you want to taste the ocean, if you want to feel the sea inside your very being, even though you are no longer actually at the beach, the place to go is Williamsburg's stellar Maison Premiere.  

A bartender fixes a cocktail at Maison Premiere in Williamsburg

Cocktails and Oysters, The Old Fashioned Way

There are, of course, plenty of solid oyster spots in the city, and quite a few excellent ones as well, but the best mixed-dozen I've ever eaten, and on several occasions, has been at Maison Premiere. A neighborhood secret for a while after it first opened in 2011, Maison Premiere has since become cultishly adored all over town for its cocktail program, its lovely, transportive back courtyard dining room (sadly closed all winter, so get there soon), and, most of all, for me anyway, its oysters. Every weekday Maison Premiere hosts a legendary oyster happy hour, when, from 4:00 until 7:00, usually around 15 different varieties can be yours for $1 to $1.50 each. Lines form outside even in the dead of winter for this, so I suggest you either fully commit and get there before the doors open, or be prepared to wait.         

A dish of warm olives in anchovy oil served alongside fresh-baked bread from Maison Premiere

Part Parisian cafe, part New Orleans-style Oyster House

The thing is, though, the oysters at Maison Premiere are so incredible that you don't need any sort of special deal to feel like you're getting a treat. My most recent visit was on a Sunday evening, no happy hour, and I managed to get seated right away at the bar. And even though it's a bit of a splurge, I got a full dozen of theses beauties, chef's choice. I go the chef's choice route here because although I love oysters, I don't eat them often enough to remember which ones I like best, and Maison Premiere has about 30 varieties on the menu on any given day. My only request: make 'em briny. And it was an amazing.  

A bread basket served from Maison Premiere

More Than Just Oysters

The Maison Premiere dinner menu has other choices as well, mostly snacks and small plates, and almost entirely seafood. The Warm Olives in anchovy oil are good to nibble upon, as are the Housemade Pickles. But really, the thing to get here is the $4 bread basket, which comes with three or four different types, all of which are great, and a crock of seaweed-infused butter. One of these, a dozen oysters, and a drink or three, and you are wonderfully satisfied.        

A view of the outside seating at MAison PRemiere

For More Information and Menu at Maison Premiere

Maison Premiere is located on Bedford Avenue between Grand and 1st Street, a short seven block walk from the L train. The bar and dining room opens weekdays at 4:00 p.m., and on the weekend you can get brunch from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information and a look at the complete menu check out the Maison Premiere website.   

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