When humanity goes to Mars to build a replica Earth after we destroy the original, Space Boston will probably be so small that there’ll only be room for one seafood restaurant. Island Creek Oyster Bar is going to be that restaurant. This Kenmore Square spot is from the people behind the Island Creek Oyster Farm, who probably know more about what it takes to make great seafood than just about anyone else currently alive. And the result is a temple to oysters, a place to worship with mignonette instead of holy water.
The dining room here, which feels kind of like the runway of an oyster-themed fashion show, is big enough that you can often walk-in on weeknights, or get a weekend reservation a day or two in advance (as long as the Sox aren’t in town, anyway). While it’s not open for lunch, that accessibility alone gives Island Creek a leg up on many of Boston’s great little oyster bars - we love them too, we just don’t love having to wait in line in the cold or book days in advance. It’s a place that’s fun, has an expansive menu that goes beyond a great raw bar, and works for just about any occasion you can think of.
Don’t overthink things with the menu: start with the oysters. Yes, Island Creeks are available at just about every decent seafood restaurant in the city, but they really are better, fresher, and brinier here. After you finish off your second dozen, explore the appetizers and fried fish sections of the menu, which are the best offerings in the restaurant. The crispy oyster sliders that come with chili lime aioli are good enough to eat twelve-at-a-time, White Castle style. And while the grilled razor clams aren’t always available (apparently this has something to do with the phases of the moon), hopefully they hit your table because the garlic mixture they’re topped with is perfect.
There’s a nightly rotation of fresh-off-the-docks fish, and while it’s all generally well-made and prepared with interesting sides like chestnut hash, don’t feel bad if you don’t get around to ordering any. Island Creek is more fun if you pack in as many of the smaller plates as you can. If you really want something entree-sized, go with the lobster roe noodles, a rich, meaty pasta that comes with braised lamb and enough big lobster chunks to make you feel like you got your money’s worth (at $36, it’s the most expensive thing on the menu).
Put it all together and Island Creek is close to an ideal representation of what New England does best when it comes to food. There are definitely going to be a few drawbacks to living in outer space (have you tried Tang or freeze-dried fruitcake?), but at least we’ll have a great seafood restaurant.
Some decisions are no-brainers: getting to the movie theater in time to catch the previews, working from home when it snows, and ordering the oysters at Island Creek.
Salty little balls of fishy goodness. Simple but great.
One of these days we’re going to sit down alone at the bar, order 12 of the sliders, eat them in silence and then leave.
It’s served with three buttermilk biscuits, just floating there in the bowl like it’s a hot tub. You might be jealous of the biscuits at first, but you’re the one that gets to eat them, so you win.
They have the coolest name of any shellfish, and and a sweet, meaty flavor that backs it up.
Salmon and caviar are two pretty good things. A mouthful of both of them together along with a radish is a great thing.
Braised lamb, big chunks of fresh lobster, and al dente linguine. You want this, and you’re right to feel that way.