by Bovey Rao ’19
The South End of Boston is much less well known than its counterpart, the North End. While the North End is home to some of the best Italian food in the Northeast, the South End seems to be a less attractive dining destination. In reality, the South End actually is home to some of the Boston’s most well-regarded restaurants. With nationally acclaimed restaurants like Toro and Myers + Chang, and local favorites like Kitchen and Gaslight Brasserie, the South End is a must visit for the foodie in all of us. Among the local favorites is B&G Oysters, a hip oyster bar that ships in fresh oysters daily.
At the entrance, the restaurant’s vibe can be immediately observed with comical signs on their gate. Regardless of your interest (nothing wrong with enjoying a great sausage), make sure you check out the bivalves!
Despite a relatively early reservation time, the restaurant was already full. The open kitchen and wide bar is an incredible experience to view the master oyster shucker or the head chef prepare your dish. Given the namesake, expectations were incredibly high for the various oysters on the menu. When asked, the waitstaff provided a thorough explanation of the oyster’s unique flavors and the subtle differences that could be noticed. Best of all, she offered to make a small sampling plate for oyster virgins.
Given our limited student budgets, the three of us opted for two oysters each, and they were quickly shucked and delivered. Each of us was given a Chatham and a Riptide. The Chatham is regarded as one of the best beginning oysters as it provides a simple briny flavor. As expected, a nice smooth brininess prevailed in the oyster, but immediately, I could tell B&G had another level of execution. At most oyster bars, the accoutrements of the mignonette, cocktail, and horseradish are casually served as almost an afterthought. However, these sauces at B&G truly elevated the smooth salty oysters with a light acidity and almost crisp texture. We immediately switched to try the Riptide and were blown away by the sweet meatiness of the flesh. As discussed by our waitress, the subtle differences were truly what gave individual oysters personality.
Progressing through our order, I sampled B&G’s acclaimed clam chowder. Many outlets consider B&G to serve one of the best clam chowders in Boston, but unfortunately, I disagree. B&G did deliver an incredibly rich broth complete with tender clams, bacon lardons, and creamy potatoes, but it still felt slightly lacking. Normally, I expect a creamier, more viscous chowder, while this rendition was a little thin. Thus, many of the ingredients settled at the bottom and made for a somewhat inconsistent spoonful. The chowder delivered in many ways, but simultaneously failed to fulfill the high expectations.
Again faced with dish that is lauded by the community, I prepared for the B&G lobster roll. Despite being smaller than expected, the lobster roll was dense and almost bursting with sweet lobster meat. The sides of fries, pickles, and slaw were also clearly well prepared. B&G followed a traditional preparation for its lobster, in a light salad with mayonnaise, celery, and chives. The first bite starts with meeting the sweet roll and then entering the thick layer of delicate lobster flesh. Almost immediately, the sweetness of lobster flesh stands out with a light saltiness. With a light crunch, the bread and butter pickles serve as an acidic component to counterbalance the rich, sweet lobster roll. The crispy fries and fresh slaw serve as solid, but not mind-blowing sides. Overall, the hype surrounding this course was well warranted.
For dessert, we collectively decided on the blueberry bombolones, fried ricotta donuts. The hot fried dough balls were the ideal finish to our casual lunch. Thankfully, the bombolones were not overbearingly sweet, which played with the tart, almost savory blueberry jam.
Despite my incredibly high expectations surrounding B&G Oysters, I cannot say that I was disappointed. It is clear why B&G retains a perennial spot on many media outlets top restaurants. While the menu clearly displays a high level of sophistication and executes it well, come for the namesake oysters, and you will not be disappointed.
Location: 550 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116
Reservation: OpenTable or Call (617)-423-0550
Stand out dishes: Lobster Roll, Oysters, Bombolones
Overall Rating: 4.5/5