Island Creek Oyster Farm, otherwise known as The Shop, is the newest aspirant along the Washington Avenue restaurant strip. The oyster bar is part of a chain of oyster shops in Boston, Burlington, Portsmouth and now Portland.

The dining area and bar; tinned fish for take out

It doesn’t pretend to display the hauteur of an Eventide.  But rather it’s a simple oyster bar in a trendy looking  space.  The menu is further enbriched with plates, which draws on the fine selection of tinned fish imported from Spain.  If you choose the sardines, for example, you’ll have the best there is. Otherwise the oyster selection changes daily with  oysters plucked from Massachusetts and Maine waters.  There’s also a small pile of little necks from Duxbury, MA.

Selection of oysters on ice

I stopped in for lunch the other day as I was traveling south on 295 and existed on the southbound turnoff that takes you to Washington Avenue.  The place beckons with its big orange sign and dining deck.

The look inside is industrial modern with a long communal table and high tops around the room.  The drill is to go up to the oyster bar, fill out a card to choose your oysters.  You can extend the meal by ordering one of the tinned fish plates like sardines, which are preseneted on a paper lined tray with a big mound of sweet butter, a little tub of spicy mustard, pickled red cabbage and housemade pickles–all served with toasted bread from Standard Baking.

Satrdine plate

Kit Paschal, formerly of Roustabout, which had too short a run down the block, manages the shop.

The sardines are a premium brand from Spain packed into a gold tins.  You can have them brined in olive oil, tomato sauce or peppers.  Interestingly the beer and wine list is extensive with local beers to various wines capped with a $100 bottle of Billecart Salmon Champagne.

My lunch included a few oysters (Mookie Blues, Damariscotta; Puffers, Wellfleet, MA and Eider Cove from New Meadow’s River).  The full can of sardines with the accoutrements is a pretty full meal for lunch, and I was eminently satisfied.  If you like sardines, which I do, these are a fine example.  Other choices include mussels, octopus and squid.

Oysters are $1.50.  Lunch here is not incidental and costs around $20 for a few oysters and fish plate. The tinned fish is available to purchase to take home and range in price from $5 to $17 for standard size can.

The restaurant is open Wednesday to Saturday with lunchtime hours to mid-evening close.  It fits well along Washington Avenue where casual dining is  well represented by the likes of Terlingua, Izakaya Minato and the expanded Drifter’s Wife who will be moving into the former Roustabout space.

IF they were to include a hot soup in the winter, this would be a great place for lunch on a chilly day.

Island Creek Oysters, 123 Washington Ave., Portland, ME 207-699-4466

Rating: Good selection of New England waters in an attractive bar setting

Ambiance: Very casual

Tables: Communal, counters, high tops

Parking: On street

$$$: moderate