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An Ode to Julia for Julia

To get to The Oyster Club in Mystic Connecticut, you take Main Street into Historic Downtown Mystic and turn left on Water Street. If you reach "Mystic Pizza," made famous in the 1988 sleeper hit of the same name that first won Julia Roberts attention, you’ve gone too far. If you start thinking about Julia Roberts on your way to a totally unrelated assignment, your first-ever restaurant review, you’ve also gone too far...

In the classic romantic comedy My Best Friend’s Wedding, Julia Roberts plays a food critic of all things. In her very first scene we see her at a fine dining establishment. Before she leaves the restaurant she recites to her waiter what she’ll say in her review. This immediately marks the movie as a work of absurd fiction because a food critic would never!  (The rest of the movie is pretty great, though) 

The Oyster Club in Mystic, CT

When you arrive at The Oyster Club, the first sight is a shockingly orange door. It is not unlike those times when Julia Roberts wore atrocious ginger wigs over her glorious auburn in Steven Spielberg’s worst movie (Hook), Stephen Frears' worst movie (Mary Reilly), and Gary Marshall’s worst movie (Mother’s Day). Only not, because the orange door really grows on you… especially once you see the restaurant’s subtle and charming interior. It’s like that time in Notting Hill when you thought Julia Roberts’ character would be so annoying since she was basically a thinly veiled Julia Roberts but she totally won you over anyway! 

The food at The Oyster Club is like that too, minus the “thought it would be annoying” part. In fact, the raw oysters were as perfectly chilled and sensual as Julia’s underrated star turn in 2004’s Closer. With one tiny slurp they veritably leap into your mouth, with all the eagerness to be consumed as Julia's star-making moves in Pretty Woman. The mussels in coconut broth prove as addictive, fun, rich, and satisfying as her Oscar win for Erin Brockovich. Not everything's a winner though -- the country fried fluke is served with creamy grits and celeriac slaw. Those companions totally steal its thunder, which makes Julia's "eat the fish, bitch!" rampage in August: Osage County slightly ironic.  

Me and my restaurant date Julia, a brilliant dramaturg and writer, in CTThe Oyster Club opened in 2011 which is one year after Julia’s movie Eat Pray Love reminded us of how fun it is to eat at restaurants while travelling, especially when your date’s name is Julia.

The Oyster Club is a fine name for what turns out to be a really great restaurant that you’ll be so glad you went to instead of Mystic Pizza. But it should have been called The Pelican Brief or Oceans Eleven because they both conjure thoughts of seafood and then Mystic Connecticut could have had two Julia Roberts themed restaurants within one block of each other and this review would make a lot more sense.

Unlike Julia’s totally unprofessional food critic in My Best Friend’s Wedding, I did not tell my waitress that I was reviewing her restaurant. She was as pregnant as Julia was always hoping to be in Steel Magnolia. I hoped the critic’s badge I forgot to remove would not panic her as I madly scribbled notes while trying to concentrate on the food and forget all about Julia Roberts.

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Reader Comments (12)

So glad you loved your time in CT, Nathaniel! It's a beautiful place. I will have to try this restaurant next time I'm there.

July 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTyler


July 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

Haha nice! Thumbs up for commitment for sure!

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterT-Bone

Gr8 piece well thought out,as a lifelong Julia fan can I say watch Mary Reilly now without the Julia hysteeia of the time and it is a fine film and not as bad as it's reception in 96 claims.

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMARKGORDONUK


July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKelly Garrett

kelly -- thank you.

mark -- i'm willing to believe this. but at the time i remember hating it ;)

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

This is DELIGHTFUL, especially for me being a CT native.

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDancin' Dan

Love, love, ABSOLUTELY love this post! As scrumptious as they come! Also love Julia and the town of Mystic- equally!

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel

Oh my goodness, I'm dying. "The raw oysters were as perfectly chilled and sensual as Julia’s underrated star turn in 2004’s Closer." <-- writing goals

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLindsayC608

I loved your post .... So smart and captivating to write about food/connecticut AND Julia Roberts ... Thank you for making my day a little brighter !

July 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterClement_Paris

Mary Reilly is very underrated. And Hook is one of my children's favorite movies, Spielberg has made much worse movies

Anyway, lovely post!!

July 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHelen Morgan

I think 'Hook' and 'Mary Reilly' are far from being the worst films by Spielberg and Frears, respectively. Particularly, 'Mary Reilly' is such an underrated and interesting film. But I agree about 'Mother's Day': it is atrocious.
Anyhow, thanks for such a nice post. Julia Roberts definitely needs a role at the level of her talent and she deserves a huge comeback. She also needs to make better choices, work with better directors and stop wasting her talent, though.

July 21, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbonobo

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