St. Paul Fish Company
When I get a One Word Text from Jay Anderson, I always know where he wants to go and what he wants to do.
The word: Oysters.
The place: St. Paul Fish Company in Milwaukee’s Public Market.
ATTITUDE GOING IN
If you’re not into oysters, I don’t really understand what your problem is.
Having grown up on the East Coast, I’m a seafood snob and I was hesitant to eat ANY seafood at all for the first 10 years that I lived in the Midwest. I couldn’t imagine how it could be any good. But St. Paul proved me wrong and I’m a devoted fan of their seafood now. The next time I go, I’m going to give them the Ultimate Seafood Challenge. Their menu says that they have ‘authentic East Coast Lobster Rolls” and I’m going to check that out.
JAY: I never grew up anywhere near the ocean, a lot of my friends from the coasts and from the islands swore up and down about seafood diets being good for your health and it got ingrained in me at a young age, if it comes out of the water I’ll eat it. Oysters are my favorite, I can eat a dozen oysters and be good to go for the rest of the entire day - it’s so much energy and I love the taste. If you don't know about oysters just get a single fresh Blue Point, start with lemon juice, horseradish and hot sauce. The more comfortable you get the less toppings you’ll need.
Their servers are well-versed in the oysters’ pedigrees and flavor profiles.
If you’re a beginner and are looking for a “Learner Oyster,” then go with Kumamotos or Kusshis from the West Coast. But eventually you’ll want to graduate to the stronger stuff. That’s when you look for oysters from the coasts of Maine and Massachusetts, such as Pemaquids, Glidden Points and the reliable Wellfleets. From Connecticut Blue Points to the Goose Split’s of British Columbia, St. Paul flies them in fresh to satisfy the most discerning oyster connoisseur.
JAY: I love the different kinds of oysters, you can get sweet oysters or briny oysters. It’s interesting sweet, doesn't actually mean sweet, it means a less salty and a more fleshy taste, almost like tarr tarr or sushi. The rest of the food is amazing, too, and the prices are the best that I’ve seen for seafood. They actually fly food in for restaurants all over the city, so the prices can be low because they are only a serving a portion of what comes in and gets distributed.
When you discover a place that you like, it can be really annoying when it gets popular. Suddenly not only are your favorite seats taken but you even have to wait to get them! I want great restaurants to be successful, but when you see dilettantes from the suburbs order oysters just because they think it’s cool, that’s when I begin to lose it. We especially like to go on the early side so we can get a seat at the bar and watch our server shuck the oysters right in front of us. It gets pretty busy there, so be prepared to pounce upon an open seat. Sometimes I just give people the Stink Eye until they get so uncomfortable that they hurry up and leave.
JAY: I always laugh about the lines and the wait. I like business, I like waiting in lines for food just as much as I like watching lines form for any of our events we host here at the record label. Sometimes i even get to meet pretty cool people while i’m waiting on my seat,
If you love to cook, this is the place to go for fresh fish and seafood, anything from Stone Crab to Monkfish. Jay always picks the weirdest looking fish he can find.
JAY: Shopping for fresh ingredients here is great.
- Two pounds of mussels for 8 bucks, steam them in cheap white wine and butter
- Add a quarter stick of butter to a pan and add an a clove of minced garlic until melted then half a cup of white wine with mussels and steam until they are all open, can't take more than 10 minutes.
Or maybe you want to boil a whole lobster, whole lobsters are cheap there and it’s no longer a food for just high end spending. If you feel a little more invested you can get a whole fish like trout and slow roast them in the oven with dill lemon and olive oil and then take them out for a quick sear under the broiler before its time to eat.
Easily impress any date with any of the food you could make with their fresh ingredients.
This year, I’m going to make my Old School Brooklyn Sicilian Christmas Eve Seafood Pasta with ingredients from St. Paul.
Stay tuned for the recipe.
Be prepared to shell out (no pun intended) some cash for this, but it’s worth it if you don’t screw it up by overcooking the seafood.
Maybe you want to try some of their weekday specials: Mussel Monday, Taco Tuesday, King Crab Wednesday, Blue Point Thursday and, of course, Perch Fryday. And every day is Lobster Day: for under 16 bucks you can dine on a Maine lobster that was just staring at you from the tank a few minutes earlier. I’m especially fond of the Calamari steak in butter sauce because it’s not the typical oyster bar or seafood restaurant fare.
St. Paul Fish Company
400 N Water St, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Phone: (414) 220-8383