All About Oysters
at Miami's Mignonette
Photos by Mark Lobster
Located in a 1930s-era gas station Mignonette is a local find that serves some of the best seafood in town while making guests feel perfectly at home. Since opening, the oyster bar and seafood restaurant by acclaimed local Chef Danny Serfer has garnered much attention playful mix of highbrow and lowbrow dishes. The menu deftly mixes classic fare like popcorn shrimp and oysters Rockefeller with modern indulgences, including a rotating selection of fresh-from-the-water oysters.
To find out out more about this beloved bivalve, Lone Palm – and a few friends - sat down with Mignonette’s General Manager and Sommelier Matt Dinkel and Chef de Cuisine Bobby Frank for the happiest hour. We sipped, we slurped, and we learned so much.
How to Shuck An Oyster
Oyster knife, clean kitchen towel, rubber gloves, ice and a serving dish.
Rinse the oysters in cold running water and scrub if they are dirty.
Hold the oyster cup-side down in your palm with the hinge towards you and the knife in your dominant hand. Make sure to use either a rubber glove or a clean kitchen towel to protect your hand from the shell and the knife,
Gently insert the tip of the knife into the hinge of the oyster about a quarter of an inch. Then, twist the knife to pop the seal. To cut the adductor muscle – which is what holds the shells together – follow the contour of the top shell with the knife, cut through the muscle and remove the top shell.
Once the top of the shell is removed, wipe out any grit and sand and check for shell fragments. Guide the knife under the oyster from the top and slice the bottom muscle, keeping the oyster intact and preserving as much of the oyster liquor as possible.
Truth or Myth? “Only eat oysters in months that end with R”
Matt: MYTH! Today, with farmed oysters and monitoring for pathogens, you can eat oysters year-round.
Why open an oyster bar in Miami?
Bobby: Chef Danny (Serfer) and Ryan had a dream of an oyster and cocktail bar next to Blue Collar – a place to eat and drink while you wait. And a year later, Mignonette was born.
How do you choose the oysters to serve – is it based on what’s fresh for the day or some other formula?
Bobby: We do our best to keep a good variety in-house, shooting for four West and four East each day. Of course, freshness is the highest priority when serving oysters. Some oysters that we carry aren't even harvested from the water until I place my order.
There is a split between east coast, gulf coast and west coast oysters – what are the biggest differences in your opinion?
Matt: East coast oysters are more briny, the ocean's salty taste, and oysters from the west coast tend to be creamier. The water where the oyster grows really dictates it's look and flavor, what we call merrior.
What’s the most popular oyster at the restaurant?
Bobby: Kumamotos are definitely the most popular West coast oysters. People love Pemaquid and Wellfleet oysters but that's just because they have recognizable names; there are tons of quality oysters from the next town over!
Tell us about sauces – and your preferences. Is there an appropriate sauce for each oyster or is it just overall taste preference?
Bobby: Mignonette and cocktail sauce are the oyster's traditional accompaniments. This is going to sound contrived, but I like mignonette best. Cocktail sauce can hide the oyster's natural flavor, whereas a small dish of mignonette serves to enhance it.
210 NE 18th St.
Edgewater | Miami
Favorite side to go along with oysters and drinks?
Matt: Caviar, duh!
What do you think makes the perfect pairing? Red? White? Bubbles?
Matt: An oysters' flavor depends on where it comes from, just like wine. There are dry reds that pair well with gulf coast oysters, whites that I like with bigger oysters from the West coast. And let's be honest, bubbles go with everything.
How do you decide on the pairing – is it based on salinity, texture or a combination?
Matt: The brine is a major factor when pairing with oysters. But so are the more subtle notes; melon, seaweed, etc.
Tell us about some of your favorite wines for pairing.
Matt: Txakolina – its a slightly sparkling, very dry white wine with high acidity and low alcohol content produced in the Spanish provinces of the Basque Country.
Is there a secret to prying open an oyster? Do you have a special technique?
Bobby: The most important part is that first stab. Getting the curved tip of the oyster knife to click into the hinge where the oyster opens. Once the knife is in, a quick turn of the wrist should pop the oyster right open.
Who is the best oyster shucker at Mignonette?
Bobby: I would say myself, but Leon gives me a run for my money.
How many do you think it takes to open before becoming an expert?
Bobby: 10,000 hours right? I bet 1,000 oysters would do it, so like a Friday & Saturday night at the Nette!
Have you ever found a pearl?
Bobby: Sadly, no. But it's only a matter of time.