He reminds me a bit of Molly Malone. Only instead of crying “cockles and mussels,” Brendan Parsons is challenging people on Commercial Street to a friendly game of rock, paper, scissors, shoot. That’s the gamble to score an oyster for a buck from Portland’s newest mobile food cart: BP’s Shuck Shack.
“Do one thing and keep it simple,” is Parsons’ motto.
His oysters hail from Mook Sea Farm, a 30-year-old oyster farm on the Damariscotta River, featuring Wiley Point, Pemaquid Point, and Wiley Petite mollusks. Growing up in Damariscotta, home of Maine’s finest oysters, the 26 year old spent summers harvesting bivalves. He later had a gig with a catering company shucking them at weddings and events. Now Parsons brings the briny beauties to the street.
“I love oysters and the food cart scene in Portland is pretty bumping,” said the UMaine grad. “Everyone likes the idea of grabbing an oyster to go. You can buy a single or two.” Pop one on your way to your next meeting for a protein pick-me-up.
Once newly pried, Parsons tucks the gleaming gems into a wooden tray or slides them into indentations on his custom countertop. Yes this is street food. No it is not pedestrian. He offers gourmet mignonette sauces such as classic French, champagne tarragon, seaweed cucumber and sesame ginger. Stand at the al fresco bar, formerly an Oscar Mayer hotdog cart, and knock em back Old Port style.
These oysters are as succulent as any served in the posh raw bars in town — and if luck is on your side, a heck of a lot cheaper. Normally $3 a pop, on Fridays from 4 to 6 p.m. Parson takes the rubber gloves off to offer customers the chance to shoot back a few for chump change.
But beware, this guy spent his childhood perfecting this game of chance: he beat me and may beat you. (Tip rock beats scissors). His barker spirit and the festive air swirling around his mobile operation makes it feel alive, alive-Oh!.
Shucked on the street, right outside the Custom House, the concept is fresh and fun. Who needs to duck inside and fight for a table, when you can shoot a few sea creatures hotdog style on the street with the hoi polloi?
Like the tide, his hours ebb and flow. For now BP’s Shuck Shack, corner of Commercial and Pearl streets, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 noon until 8 p.m. or “until we run out of oysters.”