Reconsidering Row 34 (Boston, Fort Point)

My SO and daughter took me to Row 34 for my birthday, my second visit but first since trying Select Oyster. We stuck strictly to oysters, apps, and crudo, and were fortunate to have an engaged server who devised a terrific pacing/order of courses. A crisp savignin from the Jura complemented the oysters and crudo beautifully - from the well-known producer Rijckaert. It came in a conventional bottle, not the bowling-pin shaped bottle we’ve been accustomed to.

Highlights were numerous - the tuna crudo (rolled and topped with sea salt, on a bed of thinly sliced salted avocado and good olive oil), crispy oysters in lettuce cups - spicy! - and the sea bass crudo. As much as I enjoyed the tuna tartare (not to be confused with the crudo), in the style of poke, it could have benefitted from a lighter hand with the sesame oil. They have frying down - not just the fried oysters, which came out delicate - but also the “242 fries”. Not normally a fan of thick fries, we went through two orders of these. Crispy on the outside but a soft texture inside. Perhaps they use the Belgian technique of frying twice, at two different temperatures? Oysters (we sampled the Island Creeks, Duxbury, and one other that escapes me) were all superbly fresh. Hard for me to pick a favorite, they were all medium sized and briny. Also enjoyed the avocado and watercress salad (did I mention we like avocado?) and a butterscotch pudding desert. Our server comp’ed us two glasses of oloroso sherry, a wonderfully pairing with the butterscotch.

Where would I rank it against Select? Higher, in my estimation. I give Select points for the adventurousness of their crudo, but Row 34 is hardly lacking in that respect. I think Row 34 wins on ease of getting in (simply by virtue of being larger), and beer/wine selection.

2 Likes

You said you were reconsidering- what about them that caused you not to consider them until this meal? Or was it simply a preference for Select?

While oysters aren’t from the kitchen, the selection here is great.

Mainly this was just a chance to consider them relative to Select, having now visited both. However I was partly motivated by the preference shown for Select on some boards. To amplify on the “getting in is easier at Row 34” point, I think Select has very limited options for parties of 3+: just two high-tops at the front, if memory serves. That said, the conceit at Row 34 (which thankfully seems to have disappeared from their web site) that they are a “working man’s oyster bar” was just annoying - appropriate mainly if you are a man working at Goldman Sachs, it would seem, and an affront to the much larger class of working men and women.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold