East Coast Provisions: You've Got a Friend in Richmond
There I was, sneaking up to the bar at East Coast Provisions like the Pink Panther, and wondering whether I looked a little too obvious all alone, ordering oysters and snapping pics for story highlights. I am so obviously not cut out to be under cover with all my millennial marveling, but I try to be somewhat subtle.
The place was packed on a Thursday night in February, both inside and outside. The energy was contagious. I grabbed the last high chair at the bar and got myself all giddy at the cocktail menu. "THE EXPAT" seemed right up my alley: belle isle honey habanero, lemongrass syrup, ginger beer, lime, basil, mint, and soda water. Yeah dawg.
The bartender, John, was wearing a classic English flat cap and sleeves rolled up to reveal some edgy tattoos - emitting cool. Matt, the "sous" bartender and shucker, was gliding around John in a hustle, but keeping it all casual with a smile. Everyone at the bar was chatting like one big family, which gives a lone diner hope that phones aren't actually taking over our human lives.
The owners of East Coast Provisions also own an oyster farm, according to staff! Cedar Pointe oysters. Among them were also Ruby Salts, Big Island, and a featured oyster.... oh what? Fat Baby Oysters from Long Island?? That was fortuitous. I could finally drop an oyster story at a bar after my liquid courage set in. How exciting. By the way, the basil/lemon/mint combination in my cocktail was so complimentary to those marshy, mineral-like Mid-Atlantic oyster flavors (and the wild ones from Fat Baby).
After the oyster love proclamation, we were rolling in chat on oysters, cocktails, fending off the flu, and more. I followed up oysters and the Expat with a Pinot Noir and scallops for my main. I was talked into an oyster shooter for dessert. I will say that switching back to red wine after that was a challenge, but I'm a yes person.
The oysters were handled with care like little gemstones on velvet. It truly felt as if each one served to me was a little gift wrapped nice and neatly. Thanks to Matt and John for making the experience so memorable, and cheers to bars with oysters, who always seem to bring great people together.