Also known as “European Flats”, the famed Belon is our favorite oyster this time of year. Atlanta Fish Market is one of the only restaurants in Atlanta serving this hard-to-find gem, so we often hear the question “what’s so special about belon oysters?”
Well for starters, these oysters are essentially a species unto their own in the oyster world. In fact, their shells are impossibly round and more closely resemble a large scallop than a common oyster. As the nickname might suggest, these oysters are “flat”- so flat in fact that many of these oysters cannot close their shells after being removed from the water and must be banded (notice the red rubber bands above) and packed upside down to stop the shells from draining.
“Belon” is actually the name of a river in Brittany, France that’s said to cultivate the finest oysters in Europe. In fact, the species wasn’t introduced to the United States until the 1950s, but it flourished in the chilly waters of Maine and 70 years of cultivation has resulted in an oyster that’s incredibly unique in that it has none of the briny, salty flavors commonly associated gulf-raised bivalves. Instead, they’re known for their strong mineral, metallic, and sometimes even hazelnut flavors that many find polarizing. When it comes to Belons there’s one thing we can agree on one thing- this is an oyster that will leave few without opinion.