>> Thursday, April 12, 2012
This massive oyster bar right next to Fenway has only been open for a little over a year, yet its success is indisputable.
Island Creek Oyster Bar's main aim is simple: "to bring the restaurant to the farmer" and to create a collaboration that joins "farmer, chef, and diner in one space."
A few things help make this work. Most importantly, one of the owners (Skip Bennett) is actually an oyster farmer from Duxbury. He helps supply the restaurant with its amazingly fresh and delicious assortment of raw oysters. Furthermore, the restaurant has relationships with other seafood vendors that enable it to get really, really fresh fish.
Their bar is run by the same guy who runs the bar at Eastern Standard. Both places are known for having excellent drinks.
We came on a Sunday to enjoy their special Sunday brunch menu.
The space is huge, and gorgeous, with tall windows streaming in tons of light from the outside. The oyster bar sits right up front, proudly displaying some of the day's fresh offerings.
It's definitely fun to try the oysters. Along with your menu, you get a piece of paper that lists the fresh oyster offerings of the day. Although most of the choices are local (of course including Island Creek Oysters!) you'll see representation from the West Coast as well.
The oysters were fantastic, and Bryan and I definitely sampled several! They were all super fresh, with various different flavors depending on the region. Definitely try the Island Creek Oyster. Not only is it the cheapest of the bunch (around $2 each), it's also excellent.
Because it was brunch time, Bloody Marys were popular; it seemed like everyone was ordering one. Bryan thought the drink was only OK, still citing the "make your own Bloody Mary Bar" at East Coast Grill to be one of his favorites.
We came with some friends. Here's a look at some of the dishes we tried!
Fried Clams (hand-dug in Ipswich) over a bed of French Fries.
Smoked fish (was it trout or salmon? I can't remember) over pesto, toast, and orange slices
Crab Cake Benny $15 - poached eggs, spinach, and spiced hollandaise
I can see why this place is so popular. The space is really inviting, the service is solid, and the food is all well-executed. Considering the sheer number of people they are trying to serve at once, the consistency of quality is definitely a sign of a tightly run kitchen.
Seafood is definitely their strength, so make sure to at least try some of the oysters, if not one of their fresh fish offerings. Brunch entrees range from $9-$15, lunch from $9-$18, and dinner from $13 to $32. Of course, once you add a drink, a handful of raw oysters, and an appetizer, you're probably looking at closer to $35-$65 for dinner.
I think this would be a great place to take out-of-town guests. Imagine, sitting virtually right next to Fenway Park while enjoying some of the freshest New England seafood around.
You can't get more Bostonian than that, can you?
Island Creek Oyster
500 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02215