A few days ago, I wrote about how my lunch at Auberge du Soleil, from the mountainside looking down upon Napa Valley, made everything on the plate taste even better. Despite not having much of a view, I feel much the same about Hog Island Oysters in Oxbow Market. The environment made everything infinitely more special.
So before we dwell into the restaurant, a quick background on Oxbow Public Market. Situated slightly to the East of downtown Napa, next to the now defunct COPIA The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts, Oxbow is a food lover’s gem. For New Yorkers reading this post, it’s very much like Chelsea Market, without the tourist crowd, and set in the country side with views of the ridges that form the valley. The man behind the Oxbow Public Market was the project manager for the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace, and you can certainly see the resemblance.
Which is a perfect segue into Hog Island Oysters, which has two California restaurants with locations in the Ferry Building Marketplace and Oxbow.
Aside from being a restaurant, Hog Island is an oyster producer a few miles west of Napa at Tamales Bay. Of the 3 varieties of oysters produced at Hog Island, they’re most well know for the Sweet Water Oysters. Therefore if you’re a fan of sweet, pleasantly briny, beautifully shaped oysters, Hog Island Oyster at Oxbow Public Market is perhaps the prime location.
On a weekday evening, the Oxbow Market is quiet and very comfortable. Although we were sitting at a bar with views of the oyster shucking and open kitchen, the noise level was that of a fine dining restaurant. With large windows and high ceilings, you’re reminded constantly of the beautiful scenery outside.
We started with a plate of Sweet Water Oysters, which like its name is deliciously sweet and very balanced. I’ve always felt that East Coast oysters have more character, but West Coast oysters are more subtle and pleasant. With regular tumbling during the oyster farming process, all the oysters come out perfectly shaped. Hog Island also holds its oysters in a tank filled with purified water after harvest, for a really fresh clean taste. It’s probably more sanitized too.
We also tried some pasta, which was cooked in a pan with plenty of clams, sausage and kale. The freshness of the ingredients really made the dish stand out. The broth at the bottom of the pasta bowl was spectacular. If only I had more pasta, or even a bowl of rice, I could have finished the bowl clean.
If you ever find yourself in Napa, swing by Hog Island Oysters for a snack or a meal. These are some delicious oysters, and they do not come any fresher.
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Hog Island Oysters
610 1st St
Napa, CA 94559