DeMun Oyster Bar
740 DeMun Ave
Clayton, MO 63105
This winter brought a new face to DeMun’s charming collection of shops and restaurants: DeMun Oyster Bar, located on the corner of Demun Ave. and South Rosebury Ave. Its enticing electric blue lighting and candlelit tables beckon to passersby and drew me in for a meal.
Inside, a cluster of old mirrors adorns a section of the wall, adding to the almost surreal, yet relaxing feel that the restaurant’s décor creates. The centerpiece of the room is definitely the half-moon shaped bar, where oysters rest on ice against a backdrop of glistening glassware.
Though the selection of oysters changes daily, the menu gives a brief description of the most common oysters served, noting their origin, texture and taste. For those oysters not listed on the menu, the servers provide descriptions and recommendations.
My date and I started our evening off with cocktails: Lavender 75 and Crispin’s Manuscript. The first, a mix of lemon, gin and lavender in a delicate champagne glass, made for a bright, summery companion to the seafood that followed. The Manuscript was a heartier and spicier concoction of rye whisky and apple cider, among other ingredients.
Next, we sampled the Humboldt Gold and Pacific oysters. The Humboldt were large but mild, fresh and pleasing to the mouth. The latter were smaller with a brinier sea-like flavor—also quite good. Both were served with a light dressing of shallots and champagne that complemented the oysters without overshadowing their natural flavors.
The meal continued with perhaps my favorite menu item—the oyster chowder; a creamy, herby soup filled with the sweet, fresh flavor of oysters. The only thing that could have improved the delightful dish would have been some better bread to accompany it—what came instead was lacking in flavor and texture, more like a hamburger bun than the kind of rustic, crusty bread I imagine next to a flavorful chowder.
The meal continued with a shrimp cocktail, which seemed fairly standard, though fresher than what you would likely find elsewhere in the city. Our steamed clams were served in a lightly garlicky, creamy broth, which was satisfying in its own simple way. The downside, however, was that we had to discard more unopened clams from the dish than we would have expected for its price ($14). Our final dish was a platter of pan-seared diver scallops each topped with a dab of citrusy, ponzu glaze.
The scallops were cooked to a perfect texture—soft and moist, but not quite raw—and had so much buttery, delicate flavor that they needed no more than a hint of the glaze’s soy and orange notes to be perfect.
DeMun Oyster Bar scores big points for the freshness of its seafood—which seems particularly laudable given St. Louis’s distance from the Pacific Northwest. It’s a great place for drinks and a few oysters with friends, but probably not the best choice if you’re starving and on a budget. While cocktails and wines by the glass are reasonably priced from around $7 to $12, the fresh oysters cost $2.50 to $3 each, and some of the larger dishes are a little pricey. The scallops cost $22.
All in all, DeMun Oyster Bar is a classy, welcome addition to the charm of the DeMun neighborhood and well worth the short trip from campus for a little indulgence.