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Posted by aaron at 01:01PM, Sunday, October 31st, 2004

Barbara Lynch extends her dominion to the sea: B & G Oysters (restaurant review)

550 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts

One Friday night in August we checked out B&G Oysters, yet another member nation of Barbara Lynch's local food empire, on Tremont Street. I remember, a year ago, seeing the sign "Bivalves" while eating at the Butcher Shop, its sister restaurant across the street, and wondering what that meant. We found out that the Oyster House does, in fact, serve plenty of bivalves, and that they're pretty decent.

The decor is pretty and trendy, though no thought seems to have been given to acoustics in its design, which is terribly unfortunate, as it's tiny and filled with loud post-college daddy's girls in ugly pointy shoes laughing too loud, and if that's not enough to annoy you, tinny music is piped in. The tiled surfaces really don't help with noise abatement. I found myself hoarse after our meal. Service was leisurely but not pressured at all, and our waiter was conversant with the smallest details of the menu and wine-list. The wines are mostly white (go figure, with a mostly-seafood menu), which really isn't my area, but our waiter gave us a great pouilly fuse recommendation, which seemed like a good value to this wine snob, and went well with everything we ate.

The food was quite good. We started with an assortment of PEI and Pacific Northwest oysters. I remain unconvinced that it's proper to eat East Coast oysters in the summer time, but some of the Pacific ones were nice -- not briny and minerally, as fresh Wellfleets will be in season, but fleshy and succulent, without a hint of mud. I followed that up with a plate of grilled sardines, which were about perfect: savory and just a little crunchy, and served with greens and strips of fennel root. I had fish tacos for an entree. These were the least impressive part of my meal, just because there was nothing spectacular about them: though they were good, they weren't twenty-whatever dollars good. My husband had moules frite -- mussels in a butter and wine sauce, with cream and saffron and stock, again, fennel root. That was absolutely sublime. One of our companions ordered a cod dish, which came garnished with tiny black mushrooms marinated in truffle oil. The scent permeated the whole table, and the mushrooms were amazing. Her cod was flaky and perfect.

We all left sated and happy, and a little buzzed, having partaken of an almost perfect summer meal. Get reservations for a weekend night: we saw an endless stream of people turned away at the door, and I saw only two tables that could seat a party of four. Do not under any circumstances use the valet parking service. We waited for our car for half an hour. Just tune out the crowd -- the South End is fast losing its charm -- and concentrate on the food. Prices are pretty reasonable given the quality (the five of us spent a little over $300). Major props to the staff for decent wine recommendations. Mmmm.
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