The Embarcadero Wine & Oyster Bar
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Par Seema Dhawan

Embarcadero Oyster Bar

Restaurateur Heesung Kim launched The Embarcadero in 1995, naming the wine and oyster bar after San Francisco’s waterfront district. She wanted to capture the vibe of the California city’s waterfront dining zone and its love affair with Asian fusion cuisine. Her aim was to add some much-needed variety to what was then a steak-and-potatoes dining scene. Located a block away from the Scotiabank Saddledome, the restaurant is a popular spot with hockey fans.

The two-storey converted brick mansion retains a homey feel. With stained-glass windows, the large upper-floor dining room is filled with natural light. The casual fine-dining restaurant serves a variety of dishes from the popular Atlantic lobster served with lemon herb butter to rack of lamb with a thyme and Dijon mustard breadcrumb crust. The seasoned flame-broiled eight-ounce AAA Alberta filet mignon is another of the most popular entrees.

Oyster lovers can choose from six to 14 varieties of fresh North Atlantic and Pacific oysters. The icy oyster platter is topped with one of each oyster variety available on a given day, and a specially priced daily oyster feature is also on the menu.

I really think the dining experience is all about choice. - Heesung Kim, owner
Oyster bar, casual fine-dining, wine bar
The Embarcadero is a 17th Avenue Southwest wine and oyster bar with a casual take on fine dining. Photo by Seema Dhawan

The Fusion Effect

The Embarcadero has gone from selling 500 oysters a week in 1995 to 3,000 on a busy week. “I think Calgarians have become much more cosmopolitan,” says Heesung of her 20-plus years in the restaurant business.

The restaurant’s signature Korean-inspired oyster sauce is served on ice along with the oysters and enjoyed both by oyster enthusiast and oyster virgins, as Heesung calls them. The recipe is inspired by her mother’s Montreal kitchen, where she ate many pints of shucked oysters while growing up. Soya sauce, garlic, sesame oil and radish are part of the Korean twist to the condiment. The addition of red radish complements the oyster perfectly and adds texture.

Oyster bar, casual fine-dining, wine bar
The Embarcadero is a 17th Avenue Southwest wine and oyster bar with a casual take on fine dining. Photo by Seema Dhawan

As Fresh As It Gets

Keeping the oysters as fresh as possible is a big priority at The Embarcadero. Oyster shipments are picked up directly from flight cargo centres in Calgary to make sure they get to the restaurant as quickly as possible. Heesung has also toured many oyster farms to observe their harvesting process to ensure freshness. “People who like oysters really like them,” she says. “They can tell the difference between a fresh oyster and not-so-fresh oyster.”

Oyster bar, casual fine-dining, wine bar
The Embarcadero is a 17th Avenue Southwest wine and oyster bar with a casual take on fine dining. Photo by Seema Dhawan
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