Located on Salem Street in the North End, an area famed for its Italian restaurants, Neptune Oyster stands out as one of the most famous and talked about seafood restaurants in Boston. People flock to Neptune nightly for the raw bar, more specifically, their oysters and their famed Lobster Rolls!
Last night I met Kathryn and Beth for a trip over to the North End to enjoy some oysters, wine and a good old girlie gossip (highly intellectual conversation!)
We arrived around 6.45pm and were told we had an approximately 30-45 minute wait. Not surprising as this is exactly what I expected. Neptune's does not take reservations and no-one seems to mind waiting. We decided to go for a cocktail at Lucca's on Hanover Street while we waited for our phone call to say the table was ready. One mini bottle of Moet Chandon (each) later and we were back at Neptune's.
Neptune's is a small restaurant of about 8-10 tables with a long bar that seats about 22 people. White tiled walls, whitewashed floors and a huge mirror all along the bar-side wall covered with choices for the raw bar written in white paint. I think they have had the same staff since the place opened, who are always welcoming, efficient and friendly - no muss, no fuss, just business. Everyone seems to be squashed into the dining area and no-one seems to mind. There is a great, happy vibe about the place. This is not a place to go for a quiet dinner, ever!
We were seated at the back of the restaurant alongside a young couple who I was practically sat on top of. I hope they were not on a romantic date as our "highly intellectual" conversation may have somehow affected their evening of romance :).
So, on to dinner. We started, of course, with oysters. We decided to have one each of the Island Creek, Beach Point and my favorite, Kunimoto. All were fresh, delicious and just easily slid off the shell! No need for cocktail sauce or mignonette in my opinion.
For my entrée, I was tempted to go for the Lobster Roll but I have tried it so many times, hot with butter and cold with mayo, and felt it was time to try something new. I opted for the Roasted Striped Bass and was not disappointed at all. Flaky, melt in your mouth white fish over English fava beans, which were creamy and buttery perfection and maitake mushrooms. This dish was absolutely delicious.
Kathryn could not resist and decided to go for the Lobster Roll, hot with butter. She did end up asking for a side of greens instead of fries! All of us tried a piece of the Lobster and it was AMAZING. Chunky, buttery, meaty pieces of lobster on a toasted bun.
Beth had the tuna tartare on toasted baguette with avocado and salad with fried artichoke and white anchovies. Again, high praise!
After dinner we were contemplating some more wine when our waiter asked is if we would give up our seats for more of the waiting crowd. The kitchen shuts at 9.30pm and there was still a line waiting. Of course, we obliged and were each given a glass of dessert wine and a seat at the bar overlooking the oysters and a view to Salem Street.
Neptune is fun and noisy and the food is outstanding! A must for locals and tourists alike - you will not be disappointed. Don't be put off by the long lines, it is worth waiting for. Go have a drink and they will call you when your table is ready.
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