When the winters are cold — and hot, then cold again like they are in Charlotte — it’s time to gather with friends around some luscious seafood and adult beverages. Sea Level NC, recently featured in Garden & Gun‘s October/November issue, has the best curated local oysters in the area. Hand-picked and selected on restaurant owner and staff trips to the coasts of North Carolina, you’ll have a fresh meal that’s as much an adventure as it is filling.
Here are the oysters for you to try, along with their best wine pairing.
Sea Level. Grown in Sea Level, NC, this is the restaurant’s namesake and house oyster. With a fairly deep cup, medium to high brine, and thin top shell, part of the oyster’s charm is cracking its hard shell. A long growing season makes this a young oyster at 1.5 to 2 years old. Pair with: Bonnet-Huteau Muscadet, Loire.
Beausoleil. This is the most popular Canadian oyster sold at Sea Level, coming from Miramichi Bay, NB. Consistently full meat, a smaller shell and a sturdy top lid make it a joy to shuck. The flavor is mild and balanced with a medium brine and slightly metallic finish. Pair with: La Marca Prosecco, Italy.
Island Creek. Grown in the best estuary in New England (Duxbury Bay, MA), this is the perfect balance of flavors with a medium to low brine. Tastes like a New England clam bake. Pair with: Gobelsburg Gruver Veltliner, Austria.
Wellfleet. With its meaty inside, these are some of the best oysters Cape Cod has to offer. These oysters can be grown from seeds, but are most often raised in a wild setting and tastes like the salty ocean, butter and yeast. Pair with: Simonnet St. Bris, Chablis.
Murder Point. This creamy, buttery oyster with a medium brine may have a whodunnit-inspired name, but there’s no mystery to where these are grown: the Gulf of Mexico, specifically on the farms of Portersville Bay, AL. This oyster is a mix of all the best. Pair with: Miner Viognier, California.
Kusshi. This west coast wonder is a deep cup full of meat, medium to low brine, and a green with a copper finish. It’s a small oyster with big flavor. Pair with: Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay.
If you’re ready to try one or all of these oysters, make your reservation at Sea Level today.
More information: Sea Level, 129 East 5th St., Charlotte, NC 28202. (704) 412-2616. Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. Closed on Sundays. Happy Hours are 4-7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 12 p.m.