We were on a family vacation to Daytona Beach the first time an oyster graced my presence. I was about 10 years old and, needless to say, disgusted. Fast forward twenty+ years, and here I am writing about Sea Level, a delicious new oyster bar in Uptown Charlotte. What is it about oysters that entice people? For me, it’s the contrast of the fresh garnishes with the cool, salty meat. Horseradish, cocktail sauce, and Tobasco. A squirt of lemon. A saltine. A traditional French Mignonette (my pick). Sure, oyster purists like them plain, but I prefer to approach oysters as if they’re the nachos of the sea. Who’s with me?
Sea Level is located uptown at the bottom of the Hearst Tower (entrance off of 5th street) and is co-owned by the same folks who brought us Crepe Cellar and Growlers Pourhouse in NoDa plus Paul Manley, who helped open Pearlz Oyster Bar in Charleston, SC. I’ve eaten at Sea Level three times (so far), including an informative and delicious evening of oysters and drink pairings with my CLT Food Blogger friends. While the farm-to-fork and sustainable foods concepts are becoming well represented in Charlotte, Sea Level is applying these food sourcing missions to seafood by shortening the food chain between oyster farmers and restaurants and by only purchasing non-threatened species. Sea-to-fork, if you will, which doesn’t have quite as nice of a ring to it. . . So, since we’re talking oysters, how about sea-to-slurp? (HOT NEW PHRASE ALERT.)