This post is part of a larger series called Seaport District of Boston, started when my offices moved to Fan Pier in the beginning of January 2014. Other posts in this series: Legal Harborside, Bivalves & Bubbles, Sportello, Menton, Morton’s Steak House.
I’ve been working out at Fan Pier for a little over a month now and I’m loving it. It’s truly relaxing to be able to stare out of the windows of our building everyday and see views like this or sunsets like this. Imagine having meetings in rooms like this, or chatting with a colleague in corners like this. It’s feels unreal sometimes.
I absolutely love jogging in the area, even though it’s been crazy cold out there!
And then there are the numerous new restaurants, bakeries, cafes, and stores to explore. I’ve barely started, but I’ve already enjoyed some incredible coffee at Barrington Coffee, browsed the tempting selection of gourmet foods at Bees Knees Supply Company, and peered inside Flour Bakery.
Last week, Bryan and I finally had a chance to have our first dinner in the area since the move. I showed Bryan my new ‘hood and we enjoyed a fantastic dinner at Row 34, a new venture started by the folks who also own the extremely popular Island Creek Oyster Bar.
Self-proclaimed as a “working man’s oyster bar”, Row 34 not only has many varieties of oysters, it also features a nice selection of crudos, smoked seafood, and other ocean-derived dishes.
It’s hard not to miss the massive oyster bar that seems to wrap around half of the restaurant space right when you walk in.
The space itself is enormous, housed inside an old warehouse. The ceilings are tall, and it can get a bit noisy at times. We were there on a Saturday evening, and by the time our dinner was over, a sizable crowd had gathered near the bar, sipping drinks and hanging out.
The oyster list is impressive. On the night we went, there were eight different oysters on the menu, plus clams, crab claws, shrimp cocktail, a half a lobster, and even a cool shellfish tower for $78. Oysters cost between $2 to $3 each.
Our favorites were the house “namesake” oysters: Row 34 and Island Creek. We found the Row 34 from Duxbury to be beautifully sweet, juicy, and have just enough brine for a perfect, balanced flavor. The Island Creek, also from Duxbury, was a bit saltier, bigger, and meatier, but also sweet and delicious! The Howland’s Landing from Duxbury was a smaller oyster. It was saltier, less sweet, and had more of an intense flavor.
The Rocky Nook from Kingston was slightly sweet, crisp and briny while the Ichabod Flats from Plymouth was a larger oyster with a mild, creamy, and balanced flavor. The Moon Shoal was big, juicy, a little creamy, and a bit more mild but still very tasty.
The Spring Creek from Barnstable was one of my least favorites. It was more briny, less sweet, meatier, and had a bit of that oceany, fishy taste. Finally, the Northern Cross from Virginia was crisp and briny with a nice, sweet aftertaste.
In retrospect, the server actually told me to switch out the Spring Creek (my least favorite) for the Moonshoal. I decided not to follow his advice because I’d had the Moonshoal oyster before but not the Spring Creek. I’ve learned my lesson.
Trust your servers. They know best.
Love how they offer Sriracha as a sauce for your oysters (heh, even though we didn’t use the sauces for the oysters, we did keep them around to use with other parts of our meal).
We decided to start with a tasting of a few crudos. This lovely Tuna Crudo ($15) comes with crispy black garlic and lemon zest. It was refreshing, bright, and very good.
Fluke Crudo ($12) came with pickled peppers, aleppo, and lime. The lime made the fish quite tart, almost like a ceviche. It was bright and definitely had a solid, spicy kick!
The Faroe Island Salmon Crudo was served with grapefruit, fennel, and jalapenos. It was pretty strongly salted and was quite spicy (from the jalapeño!). Although it initially took me a moment to get used to it, the flavors grew on me and I was a pretty big fan by the end.
The menu has a variety of smoked and cured items, such as Arctic Char Lox, Tilefish Terrine, and a variety of smoked seafood such as salmon, shrimp, and mussels. There’s also the Smoked Uni Toast, which the server told us we had to get if we were to just get one item.
The uni was smoky, creamy, and very fresh. Although it came served with a side of sour cream and pickled onions, we thought it tasted better plain.
One of our favorites dishes was the Fried Oyster Lettuce Wraps, which was delicious. Each crispy lettuce cup was filled with a perfectly crunchy fried oyster (which was juicy & sweet), pickled cabbage. and a creamy, spicy mayo. I loved the textural contrast of the crunchy vegetables with the juicy fried oyster and mayonnaise sauce. These were seriously awesome.
We also really enjoyed their classic Onion Rings, which were just a tad addictive.
They sell two types of classic lobster rolls. The cold one, where the lobster is tossed with mayonnaise (very traditional Boston!) and the Hot Buttered Lobster Roll. Both are served on a sweet soft toasted brioche bread with cole slaw and chips on the side.
We ordered the Hot Buttered Lobster Roll, which was simple but well executed. The cole slaw and chips were nothing particularly exciting, but they were solid and most definitely offered a very classic, traditional Bostonian experience.
Their pastas are housemade (which Bryan loves). We ordered the Bucatini with Clams, which was excellent. I loved the delicious garlicky broccoli rabe and the flavorful clams. The housemade bucatini was also very good, and I really enjoyed the added textural crunch from the croutons in the dish.
One of the specials of the day was a dish that consisted of Whole Whiting deep fried in rice flour. I found whiting to be a very rich, fatty, and strongly flavored fish (sort of like mackerel). The fennel orange salad with which it was served balanced out the richness. The fish itself was beautifully fried (I loved that crunchy, rice-based coating), even though I was not a huge fan of whiting itself.
Desserts are simple. There are a few puddings from which to choose. Our server highly recommended the Butterscotch Pudding with rice crispy treats, saying it was well “above and beyond” the other two puddings. How could we say no to that?
The pudding was indeed very tasty. Though simple, it was a perfectly fine way to end an overall very solid meal.
We had a really nice first meal at Row 34. Aside from Legal Harborside and its related restaurants, there aren’t that many restaurants in this area with such an emphasis on seafood (surprisingly, considering we are right at the harbor).
We were thrilled to discover that the food is really good here. It’s nice to know there is another excellent option for fresh oysters, great crudos, and a nice, wide selection of good seafood. It’s yet another great way to access some of Boston’s best seafood without having to wait in the super long lines.
Can’t wait to come back!
Disclaimer: I did not pay for this meal. All opinions are my own.
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