Shango’s Jim Guarino and a team of talented people have opened Oshun in the old Howard Shoes Building at 5 East Huron Street. Many folks have written about this venture, as the beloved building transformed over the past year. They opened just under two weeks ago, serving up lovely beverages, fresh raw bar bites and an extensive, creative seafood menu (as well as some things for those veggie or meat only eaters.) Though I typically do not like to try a new restaurant in their very first week, I have really looked forward to this one and couldn’t wait. So some friends and I popped in for a taste last week.
One of my comrades has already tempted everyone with some photos of the glorious remodel, along with detailed descriptions of the interior beauty at Oshun. We all share his sentiment on how great an experience we had last Thursday.
The designers kept the integrity of the building using the deco frescos and floor luster to the max. When you walk in, it truly feels modern but with a classic crispness of that period. We were instantly transported to a new/old place and for a couple of hours we dove into a decadent Atlantis of seafood and wine.
We began the evening, as expected, by ordering a drink from the beautiful front bar and contemplated hanging there for a bit. We all seemingly split up and walked around the restaurant in some kind of a trance, just absorbing it all while we waited for our table. It was fun to be transfixed like that for a moment. The raw bar in the back corner has its own vibe that draws you in. I knew immediately that my husband and I found our new favorite place to get oysters since moving back here from Seattle last year. We will be frequenting that often (and bonus…it is on the subway route from North Buffalo)! The dining tables flanking the giant picture windows are enticing and the place to be seen, while the booths are where a few folks could nestle in for a more intimate experience. We opted for the booth to share food and converse.
Our server was lovely and tentative but also knew how to have a good time with our table. For the first week of service, I think they were all performing on cue or at least perfectly faking it.
Three of us simultaneously shouted out “oysters” when our server asked if we were ready to order. I think there were many options to choose from and we may have stumped her slightly by asking so many questions about them. Our enthusiasm took over! The raw bar seats would be best for those wanting to drill seafood questions into the staff.
However the oysters we began with were as fresh as it gets. Plump, sweet and perfectly shucked (to order that is; not sitting on a sheet tray in the fridge like many places in town that will remain nameless!) The mignonette was pungent and sweet, which complemented the oysters and made them pop. I really could have eaten just piles more and gone home happy.
We ordered an array of appetizers and entrée items to share. The four of us eating are seasoned diners, so we were not shy. We had a seared scallop appetizer with corn risotto and garnished fresh mint and popcorn. We all adored the flavors in this plate; two of us loved the popcorn corniness and two of us thought it to be contrived. Regardless, we all agreed the flavors were spot on.
We had a clam Rockefeller style bite that was also delicious and a fun addition to our self induced buffet. The fried calamari was crisp, flash fried and served with a delicious corn salsa. Great flavors in this dish too. The shrimp appetizer had all the components for a perfect bite: spicy garlicky shrimp, corn bread, jalapeno and melon. The salad we tried had a light green-goddess type dressing that seemed to need some acid or a little more kick and the crouton was a bit large to contend with. However, the really tasty radishes were a delicious addition to the salad.
We had the trout dish, which was a perfectly prepared in a whole fish presentation and seasoned with apples, basil and pickled, roasted & grilled vegetables. It was fragrant, buttery and easy to eat. No pesky little bones flossing your teeth for you.
The vegetable sides also got some of the action at our table. The broccoli and grits dish was a plate of buttery, smoky, cheesy yumminess. The potatoes were served on a bed of light tasty cream but next to the broccoli, seemed to pale. Maybe they just needed a little salt. I think the other flavors were seasoned so well that we lost our senses by the time we ate the spuds.
My dining companions sampled the red wine list, a few bottles in fact. I found the clutter on our table a bit much after sharing so many plates of food and with all the different wine glasses piling up. Given the fact that it was the first week of service, bussing servers may have been in demand. We thought for sure there could be no room for dessert when our server offered up a salted caramel pretzel with vanilla bean ice cream. Cliché? Maybe slightly but it was truly delectable. We devoured it like it was our last morsel of food ever.
Our evening closed and we left feeling so happy and pleasantly satiated. Dining with dear friends who appreciate food similarly is heightened when the fare is as superb as Oshun’s. Check it out folks. I can’t wait to meet again at the raw bar!
5 E. Huron Street
Buffalo, NY 14203