Last summer La Femme Fatale first brought Diva #1 to Maestro SVP for cocktails and delicious oysters. How has this restaurant been on St-Laurent, outside of B-side Bar (many lovely nights were spent there) and the Divas have never noticed it? Now a few months later, Sweet Pea approached Diva #1 about returning to Maestro SVP for some oysters. The Divas love oysters, after all, they are an aphrodisiac…
“It is oyster season all year round at Maestro S.V.P!” Maestro SVP
Sweet Pea lost her virginity a few years ago when Diva #1 coaxed her into trying her first oyster. Like many great things, oysters are an acquired taste so though Sweet Pea did not understand Diva #1’s love for the slimy creatures, she spent last summer in Greece scuba diving in search of these delicacies. This may be a slight exaggeration (she spent that trip tanning) but the point is that she was interested in going to a restaurant that specializes in oysters, which brought a tear to Diva #1’s eye.
Maestro SVP has great offers and concepts. If you eat a certain amount of oysters you will join the Maestro SVP Oyster Eating Record wall of fame/shame and be featured on their website with a little blurb with your name and how many oysters you ate. They also have different varieties of all you can eat mussels on Sundays and Mondays for 16$. Their chalkboard menu lists the current raw oysters in-house and where they are from.
We walked into the front and were greeted in the entrance by a number of shells stuck to the wall, with people’s names written within them: very decorative and perfect for a seafood / oyster restaurant. Boy are we tired of the fisherman’s cap, fishing net, anchor and captain’s wheel Maine décor of tacky seafood restaurants. Maestro SVP is about class, not the rustic restaurant in Cape Cod.
Nino Franco Prosecco & “Riesling | Willm | 2011 | Eguisheim | Alsace | France” 23$
We started our meal with two glasses of Nino Franco Prosecco, a dry Italian sparkling white wine that was the perfect beginning to our seafood rich dinner. Diva #1 was driving and was feeling responsible so we ordered a half bottle of white wine. Let’s be honest, she was hung over from the night before and could not imagine another night of drinking and sinning. We ordered the Riesling Willm dry white wine from Alsace, France. It was a great wine and though we quickly finished the half bottle and wondered why we didn’t order a full one, sobriety is nice…sometimes.
We started with a dozen raw oysters, in three different varieties. Sadly, our gluttony made it impossible for us to listen or write down the waitress’ recommendations. So unfortunately we cannot remember what we ate and at the time we were hungry and not thinking about this review. Gluttony prevailed and we were soon squeezing the lemon wedge, shaking the tobasco bottle and happily swallowing each oyster and their salty goodness. Diva #1 had her eye on Sweet Pea; she seemed happy, even giddy… maybe a future oyster lover in the making? Maybe the aphrodisiac was settling in and she was eying someone at the bar; we will never know.
All the raw oysters were meaty and it was really nice eating different types of oysters in one sitting because you could really taste their differences. The little ones were the most flavourful but the ones on the left side of the photo were so meaty and delicious. Though we did not try them, Maestro SVP also has raw oyster topping varieties, so you can choose the type of oyster and topping, for example: honey, ginger & sesame; balsam, mint & French shallots; tomato salsa, cucumber & coriander, etc. We will definitely return for that!
“Baked Oysters: Goat cheese | balsamic glaze + chives” 7$
“Baked Oysters: Cherry tomatoes + cheddar” 7$
“Baked Oysters: Rockefeller | Swiss cheese | pesto + spinach” 7$
Next came our order of a dozen baked oysters; we had three different flavours. There were many cooked oyster options. Some interesting ones that we would like to return for include cheddar & apple, blue cheese & porto, English cream & bacon, etc. That night our baked oysters included a goat cheese, balsamic glaze and chives oyster which was delicious and our favourite of the cooked variety. We also tried the cherry tomato and cheddar oyster which was both of our least favourite of the three because you barely tasted the oyster due to the strength of the cheddar. The last cooked oyster was the classic Rockefeller oyster with Swiss cheese, pesto and spinach. If you ever see cooked oysters on a menu, it is usually Rockefeller oysters. This oyster was as good as expected, very tasty and enjoyable.
“Coconut Shrimp: Marmalade and Horseradish Sauce” 12$
“Crab Cakes: Citrus Sauce” 13$
When our oyster itch was satisfied, we decided not to order main meals and just keep trying the delicious appetizers that Maestro SVP has to offer. We ordered the coconut shrimp, which Diva #1 and Sweet Pea love; the shrimps were huge, thick and meaty and the coconut batter was not greasy but fresh and crispy. The marmalade / horseradish sauce was the perfect mix of tangy and sweet and we really enjoyed this appetizer. Diva #1’s dad is a chef and he makes coconut shrimp so she considers herself a snob when it comes to this dish. Diva #1 and Sweet Pea were soon fighting over the third shrimp.
Our second appetizer was crab cakes with a citrus sauce. Fresh crab meat made up the two round patties that were not deep fried to death but lightly seared. Just look at the photo: the crab meat is clearly not enrobed in thick batter. The citrus sauce was sweet and tangy and once again, accompanied the crab cakes well. We did not feel bloated and heavy after enjoying these more luxurious crab cakes.
“Lobster Gratin: Thermidor Sauce” 18$
For our last appetizer we ordered the lobster gratin which was lobster in a thermidor sauce in a little porcelain pot. This was meant to be eaten with baguette crisps like a dip, although they should have given us more than three and we were forced to ask for more. The lobster pieces were generous and the little appetizer was filling and very enjoyable. We were pleasantly surprised and Diva #1 was happy because she may not have ordered it had Sweet Pea not mentioned it. Sweet Pea always has an eye on anything that says “lobster” in a menu ever since Diva #1 introduced her to the delicious crustacean many years ago.
“Oyster Dessert: Grand Marnier granité” 3.50$
The perfect dessert to our seafood meal was well … more oysters. Chocolate oysters are an option at Maestro SVP but the Grand Marnier granité oyster dessert sounded too scrumptious to resist. The two oysters were sweet with the Grand Marnier taste dominant and a touch of orange juice adding tang. This was a lovely end to our rich meal.
As we were talking and wondering at what time we had to meet our friends for a birthday party, we saw oyster shooters advertised on the chalkboard menu. This was intriguing and we were soon wondering if it was weird that we wanted these now, even after dessert.
“Oyster Shooter: Vodka, coriander, green Tabasco and lime juice” 6$
We ended up ordering two oyster shooters made with Vodka, coriander, green Tabasco and lime juice. The other shooter option was a vodka spiced oyster shooter with jalapenos, cocktail sauce and horseradish. Ours was delicious; the saltiness of the oyster was perfect with the cocktail that it was mixed in. We were really impressed and the coriander and lime were so refreshing.
When Diva #1 first met Sweet Pea in 2005 she found ketchup spicy and the most exciting seafood that she had tried were shrimps… not to mention her dislike of olives. Now eight years later, Diva #1 has rubbed off on her a bit and she eats her meat raw, loves all seafood, never finds anything too spicy and swallows olives without removing the pits. Once she appreciates Diva #1’s love of wild mushrooms and foie gras, she will be absolute culinary perfection. She is on her way!
We left to go to the drag Cabaret Chez Mado feeling full and happy with the experience at Maestro SVP. We were now ready for a night of beautiful men (or women?) dressed in drag, and of course some scary looking ones, dancing and singing the night away. Weird? Yes, but the Divas are all about being ridiculous.
We would love to return to Maestro SVP for raw and cold seafood during the hot summer months. Other interesting menu items include the Cold Seafood Platter for two (72$) that consists of 1/2 lobster, snow crab, black tiger shrimps, tuna tartare, Beausoleil oysters, mussels and a green salad; clearly we aren’t interested in this for the salad. Another delicious looking meal is the Maestro Platter for two (80$), which consists of their specialty bruschettas, clams, snow crab, steamed mussels, coconut shrimp, calamari, 1/2 lobster, chicken + shrimp satays and five of their specialty sauces. We hope to return soon. As oyster lovers, we only get to enjoy oysters as appetizers, there are not many main meal oyster options but Maestro SVP provides you with a variety of ways to eat oysters. Maestro SVP is a rarity and for the Divas that makes the restaurant fabulous. There aren’t many specialty oyster restaurants in Montreal and their concept is unique.