Paris Trip Report, Oysters (Part 5) - Huguette, Seulement Sea, Huîtrerie Régis, Istr, Le Collier de la Reine

Thought I’d group all the meals I had that were about oysters in a single post. Went to 5 different places for oysters across 16 days.

Exec Sum: Huguette and Istr the clear winners for me if what you want is oysters; Seulement Sea, Le Collier de la Reine (if your budget allows) and maybe Istr if you want a meal where oysters are just a part.

Huguette

I thought the oysters excellent (the cheapest ones by far, the Papillon N5, were one of my two favorites).


Next time I go I plan to order half the Papillon N5, and an assortment of the others.

The cooked food was far less successful. The soupe de poissons was just ok, the salmon (brought erroneously instead of cod ordered) not very good at all.

Being a sucker for bad puns, I loved the Rolling Stones reference on the hand wipes provided…

We were seated upstairs. When I go back, I’ll make a point of sitting either outside or downstairs near the windows.

Seulement Sea
Came for dinner on a Friday night.
Thought the oysters not as good as Huguette, but still good. The atmosphere indoors was much more enjoyable, the cooked fish better, and the moules mariniere decent.

Huîtrerie Régis
Returned here, a place I’ve been several times, for lunch on a Monday. The oysters were fine this time, though I think I preferred the ones under previous management a bit more (for me, the single sourcing not a bug, and perhaps even a feature if you’re only coming once every year or two). I got an assortment with some prawns.

I swear the room used to be a little bit bigger (though I may well have this wrong). But I didn’t like the vibe nearly as much as times past, mostly I think because I never saw the man behind the counter nor the waiter smile even once.

So for me, Huîtrerie Regis is now no longer a must; not even close.

Istr
Went by myself the evening of our big lunch at Le Clarence.
Had a pretty decent beef tartare, and very good oysters. There were only 3 choices, and here the more expensive ones were definitely better.

Reserved via LeFork, and received a 30% discount on the food.

Le Collier de la Reine
Came Sunday at lunchtime, the last day of our trip. It is definitely lives up to the uber-trendy clippings. The room was bright but not sure I liked the vibe that much.

The oysters were very good but limited choice. I also go a side of very tasty frites with a nice aioli, but they weren’t served hot enough.


This was by far the most expensive of the 5 places at which I had oysters. The rest of the menu did look interesting. If money not an issue, or you’re looking for a dinner spot which happens to serve oysters, Le Collier de la Reine might be worthwhile, but when it’s oysters I’m seeking, I won’t return.

Overall, for oysters I preferred Huguette. Second for oysters would be Istr (and in particular a bargain at 6-7 Happy Hour).

OTOH if you or others in your party want cooked food, then Seulement Sea would be far preferable to Huguette, where we didn’t like our two cooked dishes at all. I’d also consider Le Collier de la Reine, and possibly Istr as well.

7 Likes

Andy, I’ll toss out our favorite super casual raw-bar oyster table: . JUSTE Absolutely no frills, wooden tables often shared, bucket in the center for shells, fresh shellfish, few cooked mains but the pasta with clams or mussels is quite good. Young local crowd.
Our no stress lunch table: menu

1 Like

I consume a huge amount of oysters at dozens and dozens (and dozens) of different places in Paris every year and yet would be hard pressed to declare an absolute favourite. Even if I could, I’d probably change my mind in a week. At the moment, La Cabane (ex Huitrerie Garnier) on avenue Mozart in the 16th is the most recent object of desire… it’s an offshoot of the excellent Huitres et Salmons de Passy on rue Annonciation, also in the 16th.

BTW, for those that happen to like insignificant details, avenue Mozart is one of the higher end properties on the board of the French version of Monopoly. I love being instructive. :innocent:

Yes, Collier de la Reine has a certain style designed for a certain sub-species of Parisians. Even so, I should have warned you not to go on Sunday mid-day when the brunch crowd is out in force.

1 Like

I am at most an advanced beginner when it comes to oysters.

Huguette was my favorite of the five I tried this trip, but I can’t say the differences were enormous. Mostly I wouldn’t go back to Le Collier de la Reine if wanting oysters primarily because the oysters were about the same as at other places yet cost significantly more (and partly because I didn’t’ love the vibe; though to be clearer, I didn’t hate it).

Looking forward to trying more new places next time we’re back, and likely returning to Huguette if staying in the 6th. And I wouldn’t refuse to go back to Collier de la Reine if with someone who wanted to go; it just won’t be on my list.
And I do so love keeping lists :grinning:!

2 Likes

Thanks. Looks great! Added to my list for next year’s trip!

“The Minister of Culture” (my wife) had me spend late morning into early afternoon at the D’Orsay, viewing the Munch exhibit. We then spent part of the afternoon outside, under the awning, at Huguette, eating oysters & easing my post-Munch anguish with a large serving of friture d’eperlins (fried smelts). Thank you Parn. The waitstaff were upbeat, the wine was good & the food exactly what I needed to plow thru the rest of the day.

4 Likes

:scream:

4 Likes

I love that you have an entire post dedicated to oysters! Thanks for the great reports.

Pilgrim, we like Juste, too.

I have “issues” with oysters. I want them as a snack, by the dozen, sometime during the course of the day - not as a starter for dinner, nor for lunch. And I just want a dozen and a glass of wine - nothing else. I feel like that’s more challenging to do in Paris vs. New Orleans or even NYC, but it may just be a matter of timing, place, other things I have on the agenda, etc. which is MY problem, not Paris’s! I am intrigued by the 6:00 happy hour at Istr, which I’m guessing gets packed like all good happy hours.

1 Like

Oysters are one my favourite foods! Though that means that these days I more often eat them at home than at a restaurant. I can get all the French oysters here in the Netherlands, including some of of our own specialties (like Zeeuwse creuse).

So, I have often bought Gillardeaus, and saw that you had them too. Nice!

A restaurant’s quality of oysters is only as good as its source. So, it’s often hard to distinguish from the outside who will have great ones. Also meaning that specialised oyster restauramts do not necessarily have the best oysters. In Paris I can imagine the big brasseries, e.g. La Rotonde, to have excellent sourcing given the amount of oysters consumed daily.

I will try oysters next time I’m in Paris. I do like them as a pre-starter for a meal. Because for me having oysters means drinking wine, e.g. Muscadet, and only having oysters and half a bottle is asking for trouble… :slight_smile:

Rule #27 for enjoying Paris: never ever eat in an upstairs dining room. If that’s where they want to seat you, make a fuss and insist on the ground floor even if it means waiting for a table to be available.

3 Likes

Forget about the tourist favourites like boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin, and onion soup because a platter of oysters and/or fruits de mer is the real iconic dish of Paris. We Parisians love our oysters and are VERY finicky about them. Quality is pretty much assured whether it’s an expensive brasserie or hole-in-the-wall “cabane”/ oyster shack.

Thanks to Gillardeau and others, oyster farming techniques and practices have been revolutionized over the last decade. I for one no longer pay attention to the producer/ exact source but more on the type and geographic origin of the oysters. The bigger the geographic choices (Normandie, Bretagne, Marenne-Oléron, Cap Ferret/ Arcachon, etc) the better.

3 Likes

Or walking out if you get the feeling of bad vibes. They most probably won’t improve. Better from everyone’s point of view.

For us French-speakers it’s way easier to get the table we want without being confrontational or bullying. For English speakers, yes, walking out could be the better option.

I always make rezzies, usually by telephone and rarely online. One of the reasons is to get a good table by cajoling, pleading, charming the person at the other end of the line. But being too pushy is counterproductive. It has to be done delicately. Something a lot of foreigners don’t understand when dealing with the French.

2 Likes

The Thursday I went I got there at 7:00 PM, and the place definitely was not packed.

Not really challenging at all. Maybe just a matter of you being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Almost all the two dozen or so continuous-hours historic brasseries scattered throughout Paris serve excellent oysters. Sure, you have to pay for the historic decor as well and not places where I’d have a full meal (with the exception of La Rotonde Montparnasse) but no hestitation to have a platter of fab multi-source oysters at any time of the day. Admittedly the choices are more limited in some of the tourist zones, notably around the Tour Eiffel.

Google “Paris Oyster Map” and go to the edit mode. It’s a map created by an oyster-loving Chowhounder years ago. I try to keep it updated. So, so many places to find oysters in Paris.

2 Likes

Good to know - thanks!

Love this, thanks Parn. This will help me make a better effort at being in the right place at the right time.

Thx.

Looking forward to the note with the other 26+ Rules! :smirk::grinning:

Damiano is so right.
And since I can get gillardeaux - my fave ! - practically downstairs on rue des Martyrs here, I prefer to ask the poissonnerie to open a few dozen at a designated time, then friends and we lug a platter or two upstairs chez nous andw have a leisurely feast, much more so than in a restaurant.
If you are staying in an hotel and don’t have a kitchen, I would recommend 2 good gillardeaux spots
la Mascotte, on rue des Abesses. Great people-watching while you stuff face.
The marché St Quentin, the poissonnerie in the northern end of the market. Just as in any poissonnerie, you can ask them to open the oysters for you. Get a good bottle of Loire white from the great cavist. He’ll even give you real glasses for your “piquenique”, at the tables and chairs set up right outside his shop. Eating inside a market may sound shabby. Not if you’re in a nice market in Europe. It is much much more sanuk than in most restaurants.

3 Likes

And if you’re at marché St Quentin, you can take a few steps down rue de Chabrol and go to Pleine Mer. Years ago on Chowhound ptipois, who now goes by the name of an elegant Bordeaux wine grape, pronounced that the best oysters to be had in Paris were at Pleine Mer on Tuesdays. On Mondays the owner went to the coast to get a new haul, and on Tuesdays he had the freshest oysters of the week. We always enjoyed it.

3 Likes