Meaningful Pleasures of Luke’s Oyster Bar & Chop House

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, Gemmill Lane Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, Gemmill Lane
Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, Gemmill Lane Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, Gemmill Lane
Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, Gemmill Lane Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, Gemmill Lane
Set off Club Street, which, a few years ago, used to be one of the most “happening” streets in the city, Luke’s Oyster Bar & Chop House took over the premises of an insurance firm. Laying bare the original tiles, opening up the ceiling, being liberal with white paint and gilt edges, pairing walnut-shade American bistro chairs with white linen succeeded in creating an impression of a space where classy classic culinary Americana could be had.

Corn bread starter, Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, Gemmill Lane
Cornbread complimentary starter.

Oyster bar, Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, Gemmill Lane New Zealand, Onzet and Kumamoto Oysters, Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, Gemmill Lane
The New Zealand, Onset (from Massachusetts) and Kumamoto (from Japan via Washington) oysters were fresh off the boat that morning. The samples were so firm and sweet that the addition of tabasco, a squeeze of lemon or the champagne mignonette would have adulterated the pure loveliness of the bivalves. Certainly, in the words of M.F.K. Fisher, consider the oyster.
Oyster Menu, Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, Gemmill Lane

Oyster Po'boys, Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, Gemmill Lane
Even the oyster-hater thought the oyster po’boys were very well executed (murderous pun intended). The fried oysters were delicately battered so the crunchy exterior very nicely set off the slippery hot interior.

Half a Lobster Pot Pie, Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, Gemmill Lane
We regretted sharing a lobster pot pie. The puff pastry was crispy and buttery and the lobster, so succulent and well marinated with the cream and a touch of truffle that a whole pot pie to ourselves would have.

Banana Coconut Tart with Avocado Ice-cream, Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, Gemmill Lane Key Lime "Pie", Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, Gemmill Lane
The banana coconut tart was a holiday on a mythical tropical island in the mouth. The key lime “pie” would have been nice if the lime pith had not be so liberally introduced into the formation of the curd.

Having followed, albeit rather far behind, the trails of Travis Masiero from his days at The Wine Garage to Spruce, this is one restaurant that has lived up to the hype. Best service we’ve had for a long time – not snotty, but busy and unobtrusive, yet attentive – no flailing arms necessary; a nod of the head in the right direction was enough to get their attention.

Why pay good money for the pleasures of the table and amazing service? How much joy can someone recently reminded of his mortality find in the present beauty of food, drink, flowers, music, friends, knowing that soon he will neither remember nor be remembered?

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, and the doors on the street are shut — when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low — they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets — before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 12:1-8)

The mortal life is vanity; meaningless in itself. Ultimately valueless because for all of us, there will come a time when we are very much along the aging process and the physical deterioration becomes so extensive that we find no pleasure in life – our legs give out, we lose our eyesight, we have difficulty eating; when sleep eludes us and we are fearful of everything. Then we die and nothing is left of our mortal bodies.

Yet we are able to enjoy the pleasures that life offers while we are in this flesh, not with some false bravado sangfroid, but because we know that whatever enjoyment of money, possessions, food, drink etc we can find here and now is a gift from God. Because the only eternal being, the Creator, gave us the blessings of these pleasures and approved the enjoyment of these things, they are meaningless no longer and can therefore be received with joy, wholeheartedly, with thanksgiving.

Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions, land, power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil — this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart. (Ecclesiastes 2:18-20)

And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 8:15)

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. (Ecclesiastes 9:7)

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