Jennie Tai
featured Virginia

Merroir: Home of Mosaic District's Newest Oyster Bar

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{ Inside Merroir }
Topping is home to one of Virginia’s largest oyster estuaries and my favorite “virginica” – the “Olde Salt”. The Rappahannock River Oyster company currently owns three different restaurants on the East Coast, with two in Virginia, one in D.C. and another under construction at the Mosaic District (slated to open later this month).

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{ Merroir’s Pebbled Patio }
I visited the oyster estuaries a year ago to see where oysters were bred, and to taste them at their freshest state. Their tasting room, Merroir is a small hut with a bar and a few tables inside, overlooking the patch of river where their oysters are harvested. The name, Merroir, is a play on words with “Mer” meaning “the sea” in French, and the wine term, “Terroir” that describes how the taste of wine reflects the part of land its grapes were grown in, just as the way an oyster’s taste reflects part of the ocean it was plucked from.

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{ The menu for the day}
The belief that oysters are seasonal is myth. You may have heard the saying that oysters are only “in season” during the months with the letter “R”, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t edible during this time. It means they aren’t palatable, because during this period of the year – oysters are repopulating and just beginning to spawn, meaning they aren’t as plump and full-formed yet. So in short – it’s not that they are harmful to eat outside of the months without the letter “R”, but that they probably won’t taste as good.

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{ White Wine & A Dozen of Mixed RR Oysters}
What was supposed to just be an overnight trip to Topping, VA ended up taking the entire weekend. Bub and I sat in the tasting room our first visit to Merroir, finishing the first round of oysters when we looked up at each other, and both agreed we’d need to stay another night and have another round of oysters the next day. We didn’t want to leave!

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{ Clam Chowder }
Topping is a quiet part of the Rappahannock River, where the “downtown” area is small and speckled with very few restaurants, and a handful of vineyards (one being my favorite place in the world) leading into it.
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{ Rockfish & Mussels}
Before leaving Topping, we took home with us a box of 100 mixed oysters to enjoy with my mom, who is just as crazy about oysters as we are.

Tip: Shucked oysters can be refrigerated for up to 4-7 days. Freeze them for up to 4-6 months.

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{ Crab Cake | Grilled Broccolini | The Smores Donut }
The grilled smores donut was the best surprise to end with at the end of our meal. It’s literally a grilled donut smothered in chocolate, and topped with melted marshmallow and crumbled graham crackers. Both times we visited Merroir that weekend – we ended the meal with that same dessert.

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{ Views by the patio }
If you walk up to the river from the patio and look down, you’ll notice hundreds of oysters so close to the edge, you could literally lean over and pluck them from the water.

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{ Pier at Tide’s Inn }
If you venture down to Merroir, or Topping VA – I recommend staying at the award-winning Tide’s Inn, situated right by the river with beautiful views of the water and wildlife, a massive golf course and luxurious spa. Also – every night, they roast smores by the river!

Next weekend, from April 8-12 – they’ll be celebrating “Taste of Spring: Brews, Buds & Bites“, where local brewers of craft beer and hard cider will be serving their best with charcuterie, oysters (of course), mixed seafood and other bites with live music and lovely views of the blue ridge mountains.

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{ Lionel! }
P.S. Meet Lionel! I was chasing this handsome little guy two days for a photo before I spotted him Sunday morning across the river and nearly broke an ankle climbing down a muddy hill to snap this photo. They’re probably all over Topping, but I had never seen a black and white duck with a scarlet red face before. Isn’t he pretty?

Merroir: 784 Locklies Creek Rd, Topping, VA 23169

Tide’s Inn: 480 King Carter Drive · Irvington, VA 22480

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