EG Bourdain (Anthony's clone) met me at the Liberty Hotel in Beacon Hill at 1:30 p.m. and we immediately went to the North End (Little Italy) and Neptune Oyster Bar. Neptune is small and doesn't accept reservations so I knew there was a chance we would have a long wait.
Upon arrival, there were a bunch of people waiting at the door. The 18 counter/bar seats were filled as were the 20 or so banquette/table seats. The wait enabled EG Bourdain to attempt to cash in the handful of scratch off lottery ticket winners he arrived with. That's a story for another post....as is the fact that the merchants in the North End evidently don't like to cash in the tickets. EGB was glad to be able to walk back to Neptune and we will leave it at that.
We ended up getting a seat at the bar after about a half an hour. We immediately scanned the 10 or so oyster options that were written on a mirror behind the bar. We ordered oysters from Bluepoint, CT, Wellfleet, MA, Fanny Bay BC and Ninigret, RI. They varied in size and saltiness but were all extremely fresh and great tasting. We could have easily knocked off several dozen but needed to save some room.
We followed the oysters up with was clam chowder and shrimp cocktail. The clams were very good but the broth didn't knock my socks off. The shrimp were huge, fresh and winners.
The next two dishes were absolute knockouts. First up, "Neptunes on Piggyback" You guessed it, crispy oysters served on Berkshire pulled pork and brioche. WOW!! The pork was tender and flavorful and the oysters were plump with a nice, crisp fry.
At this point I was very happy but started to get concerned because I was starting to feel full (the beers we were pounding didn't help) and hadn't even tried the lobster roll. Not to mention the fact that we had to be at a Steakhouse for dinner in 2.5 hours...
Neptune serves two versions of lobster rolls. One is traditional (cold and with mayo) and the other is warm with butter. Of course we ordered one of each and shared them. Both rolls were large and featured very generous chunks of succulent sweet lobster. These were so delicious that EGB devoured his in less than a minute. No lie. Our waitress/bartender was amazed and said that was easily a record. I enjoyed both rolls but everything about the warm one was awesome. I could eat that one every day, all day.
It should be noted that since EGB finished his rolls a good ten minutes before me he felt the need to order a lobster cocktail. This was another generous portion of large chunks of lobster. It was totally unnecessary and gifted to the diner next to us after a few delicious bites.
Neptune Oyster Bar is a fun place to grab great oysters, an amazing lobster roll and don't forget those piggybacks. I highly recommend it.
Unfortunately, EGB had to catch an early flight home the next morning so I was on my own for lunch. Pizzeria Regina was almost the call but I don't get to Boston often so I wanted more oysters and lobster. I considered making a return visit to Neptune but B&G Oyster sounded too good to pass up.
B&G is similar in size to Neptune and has similar bar/counter seating. It's more stylish than Neptune and features an open kitchen area. I was fortunate to grab a seat near the chef and was able to watch him work.
I started with a half dozen oysters served with prosecco mignonette. I went with Island Creek, MA, Taylor Bay, MA. and Marionport's, MA. These were so great that I quickly ordered another half dozen adding Umami's, RI to the mix and more Island Creek's. The Island Creeks were my weekend favorites.
Everything that the chef was preparing looked great and made my next selection very difficult. That said, I was craving another lobster roll. B&G's version was a gourmet twist on the traditional lobster roll. It was on the small side but featured nice pieces of lobster with a very minimal amount of mayo on a nicely toasted bun. The fries were killer and the pickles and slaw were a perfect compliment.
At this point I was happy and full but wasn't comfortable leaving Beantown without having some fried clams. I really needed EGB because the menu only had an entree size portion with fries. No way could I handle that. I asked my waiter if I could have a small portion of fried clams for "dessert" and he smiled, almost laughed and happily obliged. Five minutes later out came perfectly crisp clam bellies. My kind of dessert... and my kind of place.
Both restaurants were outstanding in every way (service included) and I would highly recommend visiting both. I'd probably give a slight nod to the oysters at B&G and I would love to return to B&G to try some of their entrees.
Of the 3 lobster rolls I had in 24 hours, I'd rank the warm roll at Neptune #1 followed by B&G's and then the cold one at Neptune's.