First Taste: The Magical Alchemy of Little Shucker, Fillmore Street's New Oyster + Wine Bar
Baked oysters come in three varieties at Little Shucker. (Courtesy of Bread & Butter)

First Taste: The Magical Alchemy of Little Shucker, Fillmore Street's New Oyster + Wine Bar


A new, casual seafood and wine bar by the team behind The Snug has stepped up to fill The Grove–sized hole on Fillmore Street.

Open just a few weeks, Little Shucker has already proven it's a more than worthy replacement.

It would be enough if the menu—a Northern California meets New England mix of local oysters, crudos, and salads with mussels and lobster from the East Coast—just delivered on its promise. Instead, the magical alchemy of executive chef Adrian Garcia skyrockets tried-and-true classics into the stratosphere.

Let me explain.

New seafood and wine bar Little Shucker more than fills The Grove-sized hole on Fillmore Street. (Courtesy of Bread & Butter)

Smoked salmon tartine, a slice of milk bread topped with dill cream cheese and a slice of salmon, a dish that’s tasty under almost any circumstances, is unbelievably extra when drizzled with a subtly sweet caper berry jam. The white wine bath in which the Bangs Island mussels soak isn’t just delightfully creamy and buttery, the mussels are gargantuan—like, bigger and more tender than any I’ve ever seen.

“They’re from Maine,” shrugs co-owner and managing partner Liv Ringo when I ask from which mythical sea they’ve been plucked. “Of course they are,” I shrug back.

Like the weather outside on the evening I visit Little Shucker, the vibe is sunny and laid back. Outside, the coral-hued patio tables are packed with patrons and pups worshiping the heat. Inside, the large front windows are pulled wide to let in the warm late-summer breeze.

Only the shape of the space is recognizable from its former iteration; the rest has been completely redesigned. At the restaurant’s center, the bar is tiled in light blue “fish scales” and backed by glowing shelves like ocean waves. To the bar’s right and left, blonde wood is crafted into tables, chairs, and banquets. White pendant lights hover like seagulls over hexagonal floor tiles the color of the sea on a foggy day.

Wine of all colors and origins and local craft beer are on the menu, but I’m curious about the joint’s spritzes, low-ABV cocktails in bright Crayola tones. When my server tells me that the one I have my eye on, the lavender yuzu, is polarizing due to its floral notes, I only want it more. Made with blanc quina, sherry, yuzu, pineapple and lavender, the spritz is indeed flowery. But, balanced with sweet and tangy citrus, it’s delightfully refreshing and oh so pretty in its amethyst hue.

The crayon-colored low-ABV spritzes at Little Shucker.(Courtesy of Bread & Butter)

The first order of business for dinner is contending with Little Shucker’s raw bar. It includes Tomales Bay beauties alongside Maine’s finest. (If you really want to do it up, check out the beefy Big Shucker, which combines them into an even dozen and then adds bites of lobster, mussels, prawns, and kampachi crudo). Baked oysters in three varieties—spinach, pancetta, and grana padano; garlic butter, chive oil, and beurre blanc; and miso bone marrow with pickled daikon and cilantro—are the rich, saucy gateway to the rest of the menu’s abundance.

After an all-too-brief flirtation with the smoked salmon tartine, I skip the rest of the small plates and salads and dive straight into the large plates not realizing what I know now: I missed out. (Local halibut crudo with avocado mousse and gooseberry, I’m coming for you).

Still, I have no regrets; far from it, in fact, because the Maine lobster roll (the hot version), a toasted, butter-drenched bun stuffed to overflowing with chunks of sweet meat, is so satisfying it disappears in an instant, and that’s even without adding a dollop of optional caviar.

Little Shucker's lobster roll topped with caviar.(Courtesy of Bread & Butter)

Then the mussels show up and blow my mind. I add a side of fries and, when I get my first taste of the jus, I’m glad I did. Crispy and salty, they’re the ideal vehicle for dipping (besides, of course, the crusty baguette with which the mussels are served).

The meal is quick, the wait staff already an efficient machine just a few weeks after opening, but it doesn’t have to be. Little Shucker could just as easily be a place for celebration or wine-soaked conversation as a casual lunch, dinner, or happy hour stop.

Whatever shape it takes, I can guarantee it won’t be long before you’re back for more.

// Little Shucker is open 11am to 10pm Wednesdays through Sundays; 2016 Fillmore St. (Pacific Heights),

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