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Magnificent Obsession: Cala

An argument against the unadorned oyster.

Cala’s grilled oysters are pearls of the ocean.


I’m normally of the opinion that good oysters, like a good tan, need no adornment—the whole point is to revel in their innate perfection. But the grilled oysters currently on the menu at Cala have forced me to revise that opinion, for the simple reason that they are very, very good. Owner Gabriela Cámara has chosen to dress up her oysters with a mix of sautéed porcini and morel mushrooms and draped each with a squash blossom; the effect, when you swallow the oyster whole, is a hot gush of brine, umami husk, and a touch of sweetness. Arranged over a wreath of sea kelp, they come six to an order, which guarantees territorial skirmishes if you’re splitting the dish with anyone other than yourself. But these are oysters worth the fight (and the $28 price tag): Cámara knows how to do a bivalve proud. 149 Fell St. (near Van Ness Ave.), 415-660-7701

Originally published in the August issue of
San Francisco 

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